The Skies Discrowned
"His crime: unwilling witness to a political assassination. So the new régime condems Frank Rovzar to slavery in the uranium mines of the Orestes system. But Frank eludes his captors and, like all outlaws, flees to Understreet – a vast subterranean city and a haven for all wanted men. Frank is quickly drawn into Understreet way of life – earning his living as forger, thief, killer. But he never loses sight of his main ambition – to see the rightful government restored." — Cover Blurb For the Laser Books edition.
Published when he was only 24 under the name "Timothy Powers" this was the first novel by Tim Powers to be published. Released in May 1976 by Laser Books (Toronto), it was the twenty-eighth title in a series which had, among others, titles by K. W. Jeter and Dean R. Koontz (under the pen name of David Axton).
J. Grant Thiessen of Pandora's Books (where I purchased my own copy) says of the Laser series… "There were 57 books published by this publisher in a numbered series, plus 1 book which was not numbered in the series, and was used as a giveaway at the beginning of the series to promote sales… While this first book was only available as a giveaway, the next 54 were available by subscription and/or newstand or bookstore sale…The final three were only available to subscribers and reviewers, and are therefore relatively scarce for non-mass market paperbacks… Many of the titles released were heavily edited to fit a pre-established page count."
Number twenty-eight of the series carried the ISBN 0-373-72028-9 and the cover art was by the celebrated genre artist Frank Kelly Freas. The original selling price was only $0.95. Being a limited print run and now getting on for thirty years old, copies of this particular Powers novel are now fairly rare, though if you look hard enough you should be able to find one in collectible condition. Try this link to Advanced Book Exchange to locate a copy on-line. My thanks to everyone who contacted me with information on the Laser series.
Listen to Tim Powers talk about the origins of The Skies Discrowned in this exclusive interview excerpt (13.8MB).
Follow this link to see the examples from Tim Powers's original handwritten manuscript of The Skies Discrowned.
The Skies Discrowned appeared again in April 1986, when it was published by TOR.
This new edition was released under the title Forsake The Sky and included a text that had been slightly reworked by Powers. It's interesting to note that this issue labeled the work as being by "Tim" and not "Timothy" Powers. Also note that the cover describes him as the author of The Anubis Gates. Clearly after the success in 1983 of that award winning novel, Powers was now considered a very bankable writer, hence this re-issue of one of his earlier works. ISBN 0-812-54974-0, with cover art by Boris Vallejo, this edition originally sold for $2.95. Like the earlier Laser edition, it is now quite rare to find a copy in pristine condition. This link to ABE will help you locate a copy. And often copies can be found on eBay.
For collectors, a signed limited edition of The Skies Discrowned was issued in 1993 by James Cahill Publishing. (Sadly their web site is no longer active.)
Only three hundred hard covered copies were issued, signed by Powers (who also wrote an introduction), James P. Blaylock (who wrote the Afterword) and Phil Parks (who did the artwork and who has illustrated a number of works by Powers and Blaylock).
Foreign Language Editions
- French – Les cieux découronnés – Published by J'ai Lu in December 1998. A mass market edition, it carries the ISBN 2-290-04670-1 and had cover art credited to Carrado Parrini. The translation is by Etienne Ménanteau.
The edition is still available online from Amazon.fr for 5.70 Euro – excluding shipping.
I am not aware of any other foreign language translation of this novel.
2004 saw a brand new edition of this first Powers novel. To celebrate the author's visit as Guest of Honor to Arista 2004, a convention taking place in Boston in January, NESFA Press released a trade hard cover omnibus edition featuring both The Skies Discrowned and An Epitaph in Rust – interestingly the second time this publisher has released an edition of the latter of Powers's two Laser books. Powers of Two features an original introduction by Powers entitled The First Concrete Evidence. Released in trade hard cover, this edition displays cover art by Bob Eggleton and has a jacket designed by Alice N. S. Lewis. It was edited by Lisa Hertel and seems still to be available directly from the publishers priced $24.00 plus shipping.
Though this was not a limited edition as such, reportedly 1000 copies were printed. It subsequently transpired that this printing was full of errors, both in terms of typesetting and proofing and NESFA recalled it. 800 copies of the first printing were withdrawn and pulped and a second, corrected printing was subsequently issued. Copies of this reissue state "second printing" on the copyright page, but this is (and the corrected text!) would appear to be the only differences between the two variants. Both editions carry the ISBN 1-886778-5, and the dimensions are5-1/2" x 8-1/2", viii+292 pp. Powers fans should be note that the first "withdrawn" edition is extremely scarce and highly collectible. Powers of Two is available from Amazon.com. You should also be able to find copies offered regularly on eBay.