cover image Alternate Routes

Alternate Routes

Tim Powers. Baen, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8340-7

Powers (Medusa’s Web) continues his run of smashing expectations and then playing with the pieces in this entertaining urban fantasy. Former Secret Service agent Sebastian Vickery makes an under-the-radar living driving passengers in cars that protect them from spectral energies flowing around Los Angeles’s freeways. After another agent, Ingrid Castine, saves him from assassination, Vickery discovers that someone exploiting those energies is blurring the boundaries between our physical world and a toxic, irrational landscape called the Labyrinth. Vickery and Castine must seal that rift to keep the Labyrinth from flooding their reality, though doing so will likely mean going into it themselves. Though the turns of the plot seem irrational at times, Powers eventually combines the disparate pieces of Vickery and Castine’s quest to create a solid story. Throw in a unique helper calling itself Mary and clever twists on a favorite Greek myth, and this calculated, frenetic novel ends with hope for redemption born from chaos. Powers’s work is recommended for urban fantasy fans who enjoy more than a dash of the bizarre. (Aug.)