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"Heavy" Deck in Tim Powers' novel "Last Call"?


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renard  renard is offline
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"Heavy" Deck in Tim Powers' novel "Last Call"?


Hi, guys. *Love* this board -- I cannot believe how learned this crew is!

Maybe this is not the place for a query about a work of fiction, but I'd love to find out whether any of you hardcore historical tarotistas have read any of Tim Powers' novels, especially the Tarot-based thriller, "Last Call." A very sinister tarot deck -- no one alive has ever seen the Tower -- which is very very old but has been reproduced in modern times by specially trained artists -- figures heavily in the book.

My question is whether any of the woo-woo tarot lore in the novel is widespread, or did Powers make it all up?

1) is there an old practice of poking pins in the cards to "step down" their power?

2) do people ever talk about "heavy" decks -- decks that seem to be more powerful than others?

By the way, the book is a wonderful read.

Namaste, Renard
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Powers is a wonderful writer of fiction.

One of my fav's is "The Drawing of the Dark"
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My favorite was the Anubis Gates, talk about using EVERY time travel method known to man!

He's still writing? I thought he'd died a few years back!
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i have last call but i haven't gotten very far into it yet. i had just finished a very heavy book--took 2 monthes to read so i wasn't in the mood to start another thick one immediately. so i'm reading anita blake, ivory trilogy, and white wolf books. i can read 2 or 3 of them a week and i feel like i'm really getting someplace!! but what i've read of it so far has been interesting. the beginning sure goes off w/ a BANG!! i'll probably finish it this winter when i can't go out as much and i'm trapped inside.
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Mmm....Anita Blake....good stories. They were great escapism at this time last year (after a long day of editing terrorist attack stories....).

Ladyhawke
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darwinia  darwinia is offline
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Originally posted by HudsonGray
<<My favorite was the Anubis Gates, talk about using EVERY time travel method known to man!

He's still writing? I thought he'd died a few years back! >>

I just bought the paperback version of his newest book: Declare which is sort of a suspense/espionage book going from WW II to The Cold War in 1963. I read an interview with Powers saying that he became fascinated with the story of Kim Philby so he wrote this book which is a bit different for him.

Still trying to find Last Call, but a friend of mine in Australia traded a copy of The Stress of Her Regard with me which is out of print and very hard to find, at least in Canada.

I wasn't keen on The Anubis Gates because of its farcical tone, but he's a great, original writer, and very much worth a read.

Incidentally, I also read an interview with him about Last Call and he bought a tarot deck for reference and was so creeped out by it that he wouldn't even shuffle it!!

Judy
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Try reading some of the Charles deLint books, he brings tarot into some of them & combines modern day times with connections to ancient mythology. VERY different type of stuff.
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I have read several of Charles de Lint's books, my favourite being Memory and Dream. The last of his newer ones I read was Someplace To Be Flying--loved the Crow girls. <g>

He gets a bit fey for me sometimes but I like his writing style.

Thanks,

Judy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darwinia
I have read several of Charles de Lint's books, my favourite being Memory and Dream.
I haven't read those but I have read "The Onion Girl". It is an incredible book. There is a long section in the book that is very dark so it took me awhile to read it because I stopped reading it for a few weeks.

Speaking of Last Call (a book I haven't read but found out about just now after searching around on google), here is a quote from an ignatiusinsight.com interview with Tim Powers regarding Last Call and Tarot:

Quote:
Originally Posted by IgnatiusInsight.com
IgnatiusInsight.com: Your award-winning novel Last Call (1992) is set in Las Vegas and uses Tarot cards as part of a symbolic framework within the story. How did you arrive at the idea of using the cards in that way, and how important is to create a moral framework for objects such as Tarot cards? Do most fantasy novels today implicitly embrace a more relativistic moral vision, or a more traditional "good vs. evil" perspective?

Powers: I read in a book on gambling that modern playing cards are derived from Tarot cards, and I was intrigued by the idea that both have an intrinsic glamour and an intrinsic peril. (I wonder if a non-Christian writer would agree that Tarot cards are scary.) So I re-read T.S. Eliotís "The Waste Land," because it involved Tarot cards, and I found myself in Fisher King and Holy Grail territory again. Eliot talks about the Perilous Chapel in the wasteland, and writes, "I will show you something different from your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening striding before you Ė I will show you fear in a handful of dust."

Now thatís obviously somebody walking east, and I wanted to start the story from here, southern California Ė so whatís east of here that could be called a perilous chapel in a wasteland, having to do with playing cards? Obviously Las Vegas! And so I read all about Las Vegas, which led me to the gangster Bugsy Siegel, and pretty soon the stack of "things too cool not to use" indicated the plot and characters of that book.

I donít think I created a moral framework for Tarot cards Ė I think I used the framework that was already clustered around them. I mean, everybodyís scared of Ouija boards, right? Tarot cards are very similar. It might be an idiosyncrasy of mine, or something Iíve picked up from being a Christian and a C. S. Lewis fan, but Iíve always taken it as a given that magic is bad for you, and that if you mess with it a lot it will damage and diminish you.

I think a book that presented Tarot cards a benign or neutral Ė as opposed to dangerous Ė would have to get over the average readerís accumulated impression that Tarot cards are dangerous. I had to buy a deck of the Ryder-Waite Tarot cards, to look at the pictures on them, but Iíd never shuffle them. After all, if some fortune-telling device works, youíre getting something: information. Is this free? If itís not free, what is the cost? How come youíre asked to hand over your credit card without being able to see what kind of numbers, or even what kind of currency, is on the voucher?

I really donít read contemporary fantasy much. But I hope it manages to work from a bigger perspective than the default philosophies of the late 20th century Ė like "Donít be judgmental," and "Violence never settles anything," and "People donít do bad things because of informed deliberate choices, but from lack of education or an abusive upbringing," and "Recycle your aluminum cans." Fantasy fiction that worked from this sort of standard-issue assumptions would reek of 1990, and would be pretty tepid stuff compared to the fantasies that grew out of the more robust philosophies that preceded (and will doubtless follow) those of the late 20th century.
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