Expiration Date was the next Tim Powers's next book after Last Call. Though essentially taking place in the same contemporary magical setting as Last Call, Expiration Date introduces the reader to an entirely new set of characters and situations and in fact the link between the two books is not firmly established until this loose trilogy is finally tied up in Earthquake Weather.
In Expiration Date, Powers once more treats his readers to a world of the weird and wonderful. Villains like Loretta deLarava – the cigar smoking, ghost eating film producer who lives on the Queen Mary, and Sherman Oaks – a murderous one armed tramp, so ravaged by the excesses of his "habit" that he cannot even remember how old he is. We meet also the ghost of none other than Thomas Edison, running around Los Angeles in the body of a small boy!!
UK Edition – The True First
Expiration Date was first published as a paperback original in the United Kingdom by HarperCollins in March 1995. ISBN 0-586-21856-4, it featured cover art by David O'Connor and sold for £5.99. The edition was reprinted at least once. This edition marks the first appearance of Expiration Date and is thus the true first edition as it precedes the US hard cover detailed below. Booksellers who wrongly list the US edition as the first edition, please take note!
The rear cover of this edition features an interesting curiosity. The blurb names "Lew Sullivan" as the central protagonist. Powers offers an explanation for this below.
The first US edition appeared in January 1996, published by Tor. ISBN 0-312-86086-2, this hard cover edition (pictured above centre) cost $23.95 when issued. It also featured a revised text different to the HarperCollins edition issued the previous year. Powers explains …
The manuscript was sent to both HarperCollins in the UK and Avon Books in the US. (Avon had originally bought the book, though we later bought it back and sold it to Tor.) The British publisher simply went to press with it, but the Avon editor asked me to do re-writes — mainly add a couple of scenes, which were improvements, and I took the opportunity to change some things on my own, too. So basically the British edition is a first draft. The American edition is the "preferred text." In fact, I made a few further changes for the American paperback, so _that's_ the preferred text!
Tor issued the mass market paperback edition (above right) came out in December 1996, ISBN 0-812-55517-1, cover price $6.99. It featured the same artwork by Michael Koelsch as appeared on both the hard cover and the uncorrected proof (pictured above left).
Copies of both the US hard cover and mass market edition are not at all hard to locate – this link to ABE or do take a look at eBay. Copies of the US uncorrected proof conversely are very rarely offered for sale – I believe I've only seen perhaps two copies offered in the last ten years. They do come up though, so determined collectors should keep their eyes open.
The most recent appearance of Expiration Date in the US (or anywhere else, for that matter) is this trade paperback reissue published by Orb in 2007. This new edition uses the same internal layout as the previous US editions, but does feature new cover art credited to Sara Hayward / Digital Vision. A trade paperback, it has a cover price of $15.95 and carries the ISBN 978-0-7653-1752-0.
In January 1998, the Science Fiction Book Club published Fault Lines, an omnibus edition by Guild America of Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather.
The edition carries the SFBC ident number #18669 and has the ISBN 1-56865-497-9. The cover art is by Don Maitz and a poster of this cover was included with the shrink wrapped book. The issue price was $15.98.
Presumably copies of this are no longer available directly from the SBFC, however copies do tend to come from time to time offered by independent book dealers. Follow this link to ABE to see if there are any currently on the market. Note that the chances of finding copies complete with the poster of the cover art are slim. I have, however, seen copies offered on eBay.
Foreign Language Editions
To date, only three foreign language editions of Expiration Date have been published.
- French – Date D'Expiration – a small format paperback edition published by J'ai Lu, Paris in 1996. Translation by Isabelle St.Martin. ISBN 2-227-24154-7.
- Dutch – Vervaldag – a large format trade paperback published by Meulenhoff, Amsterdam in 1996. Translation by M.K. Stuyter sj and illustrated by Nico Keulers. ISBN 90-290-4615-5.
- Polish – Data waznosci – mass market paperback published by Prószynski i S-ka, Warsaw in 2000. Translated by Marcin Wawrzynczak. ISBN 83-7180-591-8