Tim Powers

Tim Powers, the author of On Stranger Tides.

"Yeah, I think it would be a mistake for a movie to closely resemble a book in most cases. They're such different forms and work by such different mathematics. And of course I always remember that famous line of James Cain's when someone said to him, 'What do you think of what Hollywood has done to your novels?' And he pointed to the bookshelf and said... 'They haven't done anything to them. Look - there they are.' That would be my attitude."
―Tim Powers[src]

Timothy Thomas "Tim" Powers (born February 29, 1952) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. His 1988 novel, On Stranger Tides, was optioned for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. Most of Powers's novels are "secret histories": he uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.


Early life and careerEdit

Powers was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in California, where his Roman Catholic family moved in 1959.

He studied English Literature at Cal State Fullerton, where he first met James Blaylock and K. W. Jeter, both of whom remained close friends and occasional collaborators; the trio have half-seriously referred to themselves as "steampunks" in contrast to the prevailing cyberpunk genre of the 1980s. Powers and Blaylock invented the poet William Ashbless while they were at Cal State Fullerton. Powers's first major novel was The Drawing of the Dark (1979), but the novel that earned him wide praise was The Anubis Gates, which won the Philip K. Dick Award, and has since been published in many other languages.

Pirates of the CaribbeanEdit

On September 11, 2009, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth film in the franchise, was announced at the D23 Expo.[1] After the title was announced, those familiar with Tim Powers' novel of the same name, suspected there was a connection. On October 2009, Powers was able to confirm that in between the release of the first and second "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, Disney optioned his book.[2] "I was very pleased in 2006 when my agent told me that Disney had approached us wanting to option my book for a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie," Powers says. "And then for three years I kind of just watched Google News hoping that it would happen."[3][4][5] Despite being confirmed that the film would be based upon the novel, Powers wasn't sure how close the film's plot would relate to it.


Serena, Tim Powers, and Johnny Depp.

"I've watched all the movies several times, of course, and I think the clear thing they would use is the trip to the Fountain of Youth," Powers said. "My main character doesn't overlap with Jack Sparrow at all [in personality or circumstance]; they're totally different characters. I suppose they might overlap the Geoffrey Rush character Barbossa and Blackbeard. The only thing I feel certain they will hold on to is the Fountain of Youth since they telegraphed that at the end of the last movie."

On August 13, 2010, Tim Powers mentioned that he and his wife Serena were going to visit the set of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.[6] They drove up to Universal Studios where filming took place and got to meet Penélope Cruz and Johnny Depp in their pirate makeup. Powers also gave Johnny Depp a copy of his book.[7] Tim and Serena had the chance to take a picture with Johnny Depp in costume.[8]

In later interviews, Powers said that the movie would not have a lot to do with his book, since it was the fourth installment of a fairly complicated series, with characters and plot elements already established.[9] Among the few things used from the book, he only noted that the film had Blackbeard, the Fountain of Youth, and the title. However, Powers had stated he didn't mind that, saying "I've never thought that a movie has much obligation to resemble a book it might've been based on." He always thought of To Have And Have Not—both the Hemingway book and the Bogart movie—in which the only things in common was the name of the protagonist. Powers had stated his belief that it's "hopeless and naive" for writers to make the eventual movie similar to the original book, saying both are such different forms and work by such different mathematics. Whenever asked about this, Tim Powers brought up a famous line by James Cain when someone asked him, "What do you think of what Hollywood has done to your novels?" And he pointed to the bookshelf and said... "They haven't done anything to them. Look - there they are." Powers said that would be his attitude.[4]

On May 7, 2011, Tim Powers and his wife attended the film's premiere at Disneyland, where they saw Johnny Depp, Keith Richards, and Jodie Foster, among others. After watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Powers said "It looked good to me."[9] Over time, Powers had said they did a good job of making a movie, but doesn't think they at all adapted his book to a movie.[10]


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