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Three Days to Never

Three Days to Never

3.5 19
by Tim Powers, J. K. Potter (Illustrator)

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When Albert Einstein told Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 that the atomic bomb was possible, he did not tell the president about another discovery he had made, something so extreme and horrific it remained a secret . . . until now. This extraordinary new novel from one of the most brilliant talents in contemporary fiction is a standout literary thriller in which one man


When Albert Einstein told Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 that the atomic bomb was possible, he did not tell the president about another discovery he had made, something so extreme and horrific it remained a secret . . . until now. This extraordinary new novel from one of the most brilliant talents in contemporary fiction is a standout literary thriller in which one man stumbles upon the discovery Einstein himself tried to keep hidden.

When twelve-year-old Daphne Marrity takes a videotape labeled Pee-wee's Big Adventure from her grandmother's house, neither she nor her college-professor father, Frank Marrity, has any idea that the theft has drawn the attention of both the Israeli Secret Service and an ancient European cabal of occultists -- or that within hours they'll be visited by her long-lost grandfather, who is also desperate to get that tape.

And when Daphne's teddy bear is stolen, a blind assassin nearly kills Frank, and a phantom begins to speak to her from a switched-off television set, Daphne and her father find themselves caught in the middle of a murderous power struggle that originated long ago in Israel and Germany but now crashes through Los Angeles and out to the Mojave Desert. To survive, they must quickly learn the rules of a dangerous magical chess game and use all their cleverness and courage -- as well as their love and loyalty to each other -- to escape a fate more profound than death.

A pulse-pounding epic adventure that blurs the lines between espionage and the supernatural; good and evil; past, present and future, Three Days to Never is an exhilarating masterwork of speculative suspense from the always remarkable imagination of the incomparable Tim Powers.

Editorial Reviews

This Tim Powers supernatural literary thriller begins with the theft of a lost Charlie Chaplin film but quickly catapults a 12-year-old girl and her college professor father into realms that would perplex even the resilient Little Tramp. At the root of these shenanigans is a cast of characters who include Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and a secret band of Mossad agents who specialize in occult cabals. As in Declare and Last Call, Powers's tightly wound conspiratorial plots refuse to yield to neat summary, but be assured that this novel feels like a magical chess game played in several extra dimensions.
James Morrow
At first blush, Three Days to Never looks like the sort of fast-paced confection that reviewers routinely compare to roller-coaster rides, but Powers's novel is more like a ride on a roller coaster affixed to a centrifuge plummeting from the top of Mt. Shasta. Nearly every page introduces yet another crypto-supernatural trope: poltergeists, astral bodies, Aeons, dybbuks, holographic talismans, electronic Ouija boards, clairvoyance, pyrokinesis. Before too long I found myself saying, with apologies to my favorite physicist, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Powers!" And yet despite this surfeit of conceits, or perhaps because of it, the book won me over. With its exuberant genre-scrambling, to say nothing of its philosophical hijinks, low-jinks and nether-jinks, it's a postmodern work par excellence that will have you counting the days -- far more than three, alas -- until the next Tim Powers valentine appears.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Powers (Declare) delivers another top-notch supernatural spy thriller. When Frank Marrity's grandmother dies unexpectedly during 1987's New Age Harmonic Convergence, his 12-year-old daughter, Daphne, steals a videotape from the old woman's Pasadena house that turns out to be a Chaplin film long believed lost. Before Daphne can finish watching the film, its powerful symbolism awakens a latent pyrokinetic ability in her that burns the tape. Frank later discovers letters that prove his grandmother was Albert Einstein's illegitimate daughter. This comes to the attention of a special branch of the Mossad specializing in the Kabbalah as well as a shadowy Gnostic sect interested in a potential weapon discovered by Einstein that he didn't offer to FDR during WWII-a weapon more terrible in its way than the atomic bomb. In typical Powers fashion, his characters' spiritual need to undo past sins or mistakes propels the ingenious plot, which manages to be intricate without becoming convoluted, to its highly satisfying conclusion. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This latest novel by World Fantasy Award winner Powers (Last Call) posits that long before Albert Einstein died, he discovered something potentially more frightening than the A-bomb. He hid this secret in a lost Charlie Chaplin movie, which surfaces 70 years later dubbed onto a Peewee's Big Adventure videotape. When Frank Marrity's grandmother dies, her body atop a gold swastika, her final message to her grandson and the psychic echo of her death trigger a desperate search for Einstein's discovery. Telepaths and telekinetics, a blind assassin who sees through other people's eyes, a fire-starting poltergeist, a severed head inhabited by ghosts' voices, a woman who's turned herself into a man through magic and force of will, and Charlie Chaplin's handprint in the concrete outside Grauman's Chinese Theater all play a part in the deadly scramble that follows. Frank and his 12-year-old daughter, Daphne, must flee rival agents of the Mossad and an underground sect of Gnostic heretics: both sides want them dead (at least some of the time). This is a wild and wooly romp-fun, too. Recommended for general collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Middle Eastern power struggles, the structural integrity of the space-time continuum and the secret life of Albert Einstein are among the ingredients blended with Machiavellian cunning by prizewinning fantasy author Powers (Declare, 2001, etc.). An apocalyptic legacy from the Cold War years is unearthed when an elderly woman, Lisa Marrity, dies during a Harmonic Convergence observed from California's Mount Shasta. Lisa (of Serbian ancestry, born Lieserl Maric) harbored secrets, which are discovered by her grandson, college English professor Frank Marrity, and his 12-year-old daughter, Daphne, as they sort through her possessions. A tissue of allusions to Shakespeare's The Tempest, which implicitly link Frank and Daphne to Prospero and Miranda, provide entry to interconnected revelations about a videocassette of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, which actually contains an unreleased 1926 silent film, Charlie Chaplin's preserved footprint from Grauman's Chinese Theater and a rudimentary time machine invented, then disowned, by Einstein-for personal reasons that explain why those who seek to reconstruct it refer to the device as "the Einstein-Maric artifact." Hot on its trail are operatives of the Mossad and the sinister European secret society Vespers-for whoever possesses the time machine will be enabled to enter, and alter, the past, thus reshaping current events as well as the past. Further complications are provided by blinded double (perhaps triple) agent Charlotte Sinclair and Frank Marrity's estranged father Derek, each with a personal reason for wanting to change history. The novel has two glaring weaknesses: a cumbersome overload of manic invention, and intriguesso convoluted that characters are obliged to deconstruct and explain them to one another repeatedly. That said, this remains an astonishingly sophisticated and engrossing narrative-a powerful and truly disturbing envisioning of global conflict and the paradoxical allure of mutually assured destruction. And Powers succeeds wonderfully with the sorrowing, guilty figure of Einstein, convincingly imagined here as a genuine tragic figure. Not exactly a shapely construction-but, as Shakespeare's Othello might say, there's magic in the web of it.
“[A] breathtaking achievement, the complexity of which a review can only begin to capture...[A] powerful work.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[THREE DAYS TO NEVER] contains so many genuine pleasures...plenty of action, humor and unexpectedly touching human drama.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Quirky, humorous and packed with suspense, THREE DAYS TO NEVER is a head-spinning thriller.”
Denver Post
“[An] intense, downhill-race of a story . . . the summer sleeper hit of 2006.”
Washington Post Book World
“Brio, bravado and a salutary measure of lunacy . . . A postmodern work par excellence.”
“Moves at a frantic clip...[the] very outlandishness [of Powers’s metaphysics] makes the story all the more compelling.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Grade: A . . . Combining historical fact, science-fiction and thriller pacing, THREE DAYS TO NEVER is worth the wait.”

Product Details

Subterranean Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Three Days to Never

A Novel
By Tim Powers

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Tim Powers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0380976536

Chapter One

"It doesn't look burned."

"No," said her father, squinting and shading his eyes with his hand. They had paused halfway across the weedy backyard.

"Are you sure she said 'shed'?"

"Yes--'I've burned down the Kaleidoscope Shed,' she told me."

Daphne Marrity sat down on a patch of grass and straightened her skirt, peering at the crooked old gray structure that was visible now under the shadow of the shaggy avocado tree. It would probably burn up pretty fast, if anybody was to try to burn it.

The shingled roof was patchy, sagging in the middle, and the two dusty wood-framed windows on either side of the closed door seemed to be falling out of the clapboard wall; it probably leaked badly in the rain.

Daphne had heard that her father and aunt had sometimes sneaked out here to play in the shed when they were children, though they weren't allowed to. The door was so low that Daphne herself might have to stoop to get through, and she was not a particularly tall twelve-year-old.

It was probably when they were too young to go to school, she thought. Or else it's because I was born in 1975, and kids are taller now than they were back then.

"The tree would have burned up too," she noted.

"You're going to get red ants all overyou. She might have dreamed it. I don't think it was a, a joke." Her father glanced around, frowning, clearly irritated. He was sweating, even with his jacket folded over his arm.

"Gold under the bricks," Daphne reminded him.

"And she dreamed that too. I wonder where she is." There had been no answer to his knock on the front door of the house, but when they had walked around the corner and pushed open the backyard gate they had seen that the old green Rambler station wagon was in the carport, in the yellow shade of the corrugated fiberglass roof.

Daphne crossed her legs on the grass and squinted up at him against the sun's glare. "Why did she call it the Kaleidosope Shed?"

"It--" He laughed. "We all called it that. I don't know."

He had stepped on what he'd been about to say. She sighed and looked toward the shed again. "Let's go in it and pull up some bricks. I can watch out for spiders," she added.

Her father shook his head. "I can see from here that it's padlocked. We shouldn't even be hanging around back here when Grammar's not home." Grammar was the family name for the old lady, and it had not made Daphne like her any better.

"We had to, to see if she really did burn it down like she said. Now we should see if"--she thought quickly--"if she passed out in there from gasoline fumes. Maybe she meant, 'I'm about to burn it down.' "

"How could she have padlocked it from the outside?"

"Maybe she's passed out behind the shed. She did call you about the shed, and she doesn't answer the door, and her car is here."

"Oh . . ." He squinted and began to shake his head, so she went on quickly.

" 'Screw your courage to the sticking place,' " she said. "Maybe there really is gold under the bricks. Didn't she have a lot of money?"

He smiled distractedly. " 'And we'll not fail.' She did get some money in '55, I've heard."

"How old was she then?" Daphne got to her feet, brushing down the back of her skirt.

"About fifty-five, I guess. She's probably about eighty-seven now. Any money she's got is in the bank."

"Not in the bank--she's a hippie, isn't she?" Even now, at twelve, Daphne was still somewhat afraid of her chain-smoking great-grandmother, with her white hair, her grinding German accent, and her wrinkly old cheeks always wet with the artificial tears she bought in little bottles at Thrifty. Daphne had never been allowed in the old woman's backyard, and this was the first time she'd ever been farther out than the back porch. "Or a witch," she added.

Daphne took her father's hand as a tentative prelude to starting toward the shed.

"She isn't a witch," he said, laughing. "And she isn't a hippie either. She's too old to have been a hippie."

"She went to Woodstock. You never went to Woodstock."

"She probably just went to sell her necklaces."

"As weapons, I bet," Daphne said, recalling the clunky talismans. The old woman had given Daphne one on her seventh birthday, a stone thing on a necklace chain, and before the day was out, Daphne had nearly given herself a concussion with it, swinging it around; when her favorite cat had died six months later, she had buried the object with the cat.

She tried to project the thought to him: Let's check out the shed.

"Hippies didn't have weapons. Okay, I'll look around in back of the shed."

He began walking forward, leading the way and holding her hand, stepping carefully through the dry grass and high green weeds. His brown leather Top-Siders ground creosote smells out of the bristly green stalks.

"Watch where you put your feet," he said over his shoulder, "she's got all kinds of old crap out here."

"Old crap," Daphne echoed.

"Car-engine parts, broken air conditioners, suits of medieval armor I wouldn't be surprised. I should carry you, your legs are going to get all scratched."

"Even skinny I'm too heavy now. You'd get apoplexy."

"I could carry two girls your size, one under each arm."

They had stepped in under the shade of the tree limbs, and her father handed her his brown corduroy jacket.

He shook his head as if at the silliness of all this, then waded through the rank greenery to the corner of the shed and disappeared around it. She could hear him brushing against the shed's far wall, and cussing, and knocking boards over.


Excerpted from Three Days to Never by Tim Powers Copyright © 2006 by Tim Powers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Tim Powers is the author of numerous novels including Hide Me Among the Graves, Three Days to Never, Declare, Last Call, and On Stranger Tides, which inspired the feature film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award twice, and the World Fantasy Award three times. He lives in San Bernardino, California.

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Three Days to Never 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was spellbound from the very first page. I¿ve never read anything quite like ¿Three Days To Never¿ by Tim Powers before. What a skillfully creative and imaginative novel. It was purely enjoyable. He goes where no one else has ventured. Just imagine a strange unfolding of spies trying to uncover the hidden secrets of Albert Einstein. There are other wonderful characters too such as Franklin Roosevelt and Charlie Chaplin. A father, Frank Marrity, and his twelve-year-old daughter Daphne are completely involved to their surprise ¿ their lives become a fantastical adventure beyond anything any one could imagine. Reading this novel is like being on a magic carpet ride that gets wilder with every turn. Tim Powers writes with a passion that has peaked my interest and curiosity and I feel compelled to venture deeper into his imagination. I¿m currently looking for his other works of wonderment. Bravo!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1987 Frank Marrity's grandma dies suddenly during the New Age Harmonic Convergence. The family comes to the deceased¿s home in Pasadena where Frank¿s twelve years old daughter Daphne takes a videotape to watch. The flick is a lost Chaplin classic, but it does not leave the preadolescent watching it laughing. Instead some subliminal compelling symbols awaken a dormant fire starter-kinetic skill inside of Daphne to her trepidation her new talent leads to the burning of the tape. --- Not long afterward, Frank going through his grandmother¿s documents uncovers a shocking find that she was Albert Einstein's illegitimate daughter. Though he tries to keep this quiet until he can figure out what this means, two dangerous groups learn of his connection to the late great scientist. The Kabbalah cell of the Mossad and a Gnostic sect want Frank, Daphne and the documents both sides will do whatever to take what they covet as each believes that Einstein discovered a weapon more powerful than the atom bomb, but so fearful of its potential pandemic devastation, he refused to give this weapon of ultra mass destruction to even President Roosevelt. --- THREE DAYS TO NEVER is a superb science fiction espionage thriller that proves that Tim Powers (apropos name for this novel) writes tales faster than the speed of light. The action-packed story line is fast-paced yet never loses focus of the two Einstein offspring being in jeopardy with no one but themselves to trust. Readers will root for the precocious Daphne and her dad to defeat their adversaries, but the odds are overwhelming as the enemy comes from two sides and each moment a new one seems to arise. If relativity is genuine, this one sitting tale will receive several award nominations as one of the year¿s best thrillers. --- Harriet Klausner
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Guest More than 1 year ago
looking at the cover and reading the back got me interested in this book that level of interest however was not sustained once i began reading the book, however. i assumed that after the first 100 pages, things would pick up -- really no acceleration here except in the last 10 pages or so. character development was pretty weak and the story line itself was a good one in theory but never really materialized in terms fulfilling the idea. if i had to describe a feeling i had while reading this book -- it would be relief in coming to the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Poor Character Development, Poor Story, Never really goes anywhere and you sort of have to fill in your own stuff because Powers just seems to like to leave gaps all over the place.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book seemed to have a lot of promise in the story but just never really got going. I kind of had to make up stuff for myself because I think a lot was left out in some descriptions and way too much in others. Takes about 200 pages for things to actually start happening and the only reason I finished is becasue I payed the hardcover price for it. Most of the characters or not develpoed well enough at all. Just not put together nicely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Einstein's scary 'other invention', fifth dimension visits by our other selves, and possibly changing history are all part of this great new fantasy mystery thriller THREE DAYS TO NEVER by Tim Powers. Not being much of a 'fantasy' reader myself, I had some misgivings when I started this book. I am now a BELIEVER!! Bits and pieces of reality possible truths real times, places and people and characters that engaged me from the very beginning drew me into this story immediately. Even the explanations of what was happening began to sound eerily probably. Then the quandary, sometimes I did not know whether to root for the original character, or for the other time dimension 'same' characters!! This book reaches the intellect, the emotions, and thriller instinct in us all!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book could have used a good prolouge like at the begining of Star Wars movies to bring the reader up to speed about the world this story is being told in, because it's so different starting out that I was confused until I was already past one story line/concept and on to the next. I liked the idea and it was well written, so I'm sure I'll try another of his books. And if you like sci-fi/paranormal you should give it go.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Since I live near Princeton and have an interest in Einstein, I thought the story line would be a nice back drop and an interesting read. I gave it a 120 pages and finally said No Mas! It just dragged and dragged and dragged ... Mr. Powers has seen the last of me.