cover image The Properties of Rooftop Air

The Properties of Rooftop Air

Tim Powers. Subterranean, $35 (80p) ISBN 978-1-59606-974-9

The evil clown Horrabin returns in this tense and emotionally rich novella, which pulls readers back into the world of Powers’s 1983 fantasy, The Anubis Gates. In 19th-century London, 34-year-old Isaac Fairchild is a member of Horrabin’s crew, and a poor one at that, having failed miserably as both a Mintie Dropper and a Famished Beggar. Fairchild’s greatest desire is to learn to read, to be like the people who “peer into the pages and then raise their heads knowing things they hadn’t known before.” Fortunately for Fairchild, Horrabin offers just that, but the opportunity comes at a price. Deep in the bowels of the Rat’s Castle, Horrabin is raising an army of tiny men with a singular mind, dubbed the Spoonsize Boys, and Fairchild is left with a choice to join their hive mind, gaining intelligence but losing himself to Horrabin’s bidding in the process, or to resist and retain his autonomy. Powers delves deep into themes of desire and selfhood while bringing back familiar faces sure to please long-standing fans. Though the high price tag and Spartan length may turn off casual readers, Powers enthusiasts will enjoy this return to the Rat’s Castle. Agent: John Berlyne, Zeno Agency. (June)