1992 marked something of a watershed for Powers fans with the publication of the World Fantasy Award winning Last Call. This extraordinary novel, together with sequels Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather form a sequence known variously as The Last Call Trilogy, The Fisher King Trilogy and The California Trilogy. I don't believe any one of these labels has become the definitive name for the 'series'.
Last Call showed something of a change in direction in Powers's writing, being the first of his novels (with the exception of a brief section of The Anubis Gates) to be given a truly contemporary setting. Here we are treated to a vision of an early 90s Las Vegas, but with that sorcerous torque that only Powers can give to a story. Certain themes however are present here, just as they are in his other work: body switching, which featured so heavily in The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides, is once again integral to the central plot of the story: The Fisher King legend, which formed the backdrop to The Drawing of the Dark, and, of course, the very rough and real physical dangers, both to body and soul that virtually every Powers protagonist is exposed to as a matter of course.
Powers discusses many of these recurring themes and motifs in his work at some length in the Tim Powers Interview which you will find elsewhere on this site.
The Charnel House Limited Edition
Two states were issued and featured artwork by Peter Richardson and J.K.Potter, the latter now particularly associated with Powers. They also featured an extra poem and a slightly different text to the US trade edition published by William Morrow.
350 copies were signed, numbered and issued in a slipcase at a price of $150.00 and carried the ISBN 0-927389-05-3. A further 26 lettered copies (shown above) ISBN 0-927389-04-5 were also issued and were originally priced at $600.00.
Each of the twenty-six copies has a different tarot card on the front. This lettered state is now considered one of the most beautiful and collectable books ever published. Find out more about it by following this link.
And if you've not already done so – check out the Charnel House article written exclusively for this web site by Joe Stefko – the man behind these extraordinary limited editions. In it he details how his association with Powers came about and how it led to these much sought after and collectable books.
Check this link to ABE to see if any examples of these gorgeous Charnel House editions are currently being offered.
Released virtually simultaneously with the Charnel House edition was the US trade edition, a hard cover published by William Morrow. Originally, Powers had secured a two book deal with Morrow (who he had moved after nearly ten years with Ace) but soon after the publication of Last Call, and following a corporate restructure at Morrow, Powers and his agent bought the rights back for the second book and it was eventually re-sold – along with a third book – by Beth Meacham at Tor, whom Powers had worked with previously on The Anubis Gates.
Morrow published Last Call in 1992 as a hard cover edition which carried the ISBN 0-688-10732-X. The cover art was by Rick Lovell and it was priced at $23.00. There were five reprints of this edition. Pictured above on the left is the uncorrected proof copy. Here are a couple of helpful ABE links – this one for the proof copy, and this one for the Morrow hard cover.
Last Call has been reissued three times in the United states. The first mass market paperback edition was published in October 1993 by Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-71557-0, the cover price was $4.99. The cover artist is not credited.
A trade paperback edition was issued by Avon in 1996 and remained in print for some years. This edition (above centre) had a redesigned cover and carried the ISBN 0-380-72846-X. It was priced at $13.00 and is still widely available. There were a number of subsequent reprints.
A new mass market paperback was published by Avon in 2005, again with a redesigned cover. This edition (ISBN 0380715570, cover price $7.99) can be ordered on-line.
To date, the only appearance of this Powers novel in the UK was a paperback original edition released by HarperCollins in December 1993. There was no hard cover ever issued in the UK nor has there ever been a reprint of this paperback edition – which is pretty extraordinary given the awards this novel scooped!
This British release carried the ISBN 0-586-21452-6 and was priced at £4.99. It can be difficult to locate in collectable condition. Try this link to ABE to see if any are currently being offered.
Last Call won the following accolades on its publication.
Foreign Language Editions
- Spanish– La Última Partida. The Spanish edition (above left) of Last Call was published in hard cover by Martinez Roca in 1993. This edition carries the ISBN 84-270-1740-5 and featured cover art by Manuel Morales. The translation was by Albert Solé. A Spanish book club edition followed around a year later, published by Círculo de Lectores. This too was hard cover and this edition – extremely difficult (but not impossible!) for completest collectors to locate carries the ISBN 84-226-4983-7.
- Czech – Poslední výzva. The Czech edition was released in 1998 by Perseus and was a mass market paperback edition release in two parts. Cover art on both editions was by Petr Bauer. Translated by Petr Čern.
- Dutch- De Laatste Kaart. The novel was released in Holland by Meulenhoff of Amsterdam in 1994. This was large format trade paperback edition. The translation by M.K. Stuyter sj and cover art by Nico Keulers.
- French –Poker D'Ames. A small format paperback edition, published by Editions J'Ai Lu in1994. This edition is still available online from Amazon.fr at 7,98 Euro. This edition carries the ISBN 978-2277236023.
- Italian – L'ultima Chiamata. A trade paperback published in 1995 by Fanucci Editore, 1995.
- Polish – Ostatnia Odzywka. A mass market paperback edition published by Zysk i S-ka, in 2000. Translated by Mirosław P. Jabłoński.