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The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Fantasy Masterworks # 47)

01/09/2005. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

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pub: Gollancz. 464 page enlarged paperback. Price: 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 0-575-07725-5.

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Now here's a quandary. Why is Tim Powers' 1983 classic 'The Anubis Gates' classed as fantasy when this time travel story to 19th century London is really Science Fiction?

Historian Brendan Doyle is recruited by the eccentric millionaire J. Cochran Darrow to accompany a group of tourists to a lecture given by Samuel Coleridge in 1810. The only problem is that things go wrong and Doyle is stranded in the past with a Romany circus. It's only later that he realises he isn't alone and in the early mornings, wandering through the streets of London, avoiding people throwing their lavatory proceedings out on the street as he listens out for people whistling The Beatles melody 'Yesterday', signalling others in the same predicament as himself..

Stuck in the past with his knowledge also allows Doyle to meet other historic figures like Byron and his wife. He also learns why he his own destiny but that's for you to read.

'The Anubis Gates' is one of the classics of time travel stories even if it doesn't dwell on the means of getting back into the past. If anything, the opening chapters are almost like a Victorian melodrama - which considering where they are going is probably appropriate - and you're caught unawares when you're drawn into the story. For an American, author Tim Powers also did a remarkable job of capturing our country without getting gushy in the American way of everything being new to the time traveller. A good sign for any writer, especially as this book put him on the map. Although I think Gollancz has put this book in the wrong category, it is one that should be in your SF collection to be savoured. Oh, be careful of people who walk around on stilts. 'Yesterday...all my troubles seemed so far away.'

GF Willmetts

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