Stay tuned for this literate end-of-the-world saga to continue—and well beyond 2012, come to think of it.

THE SACRIFICE GAME

The world’s going to end in 2012. It’s not? Well, don’t let the homicidal Maya who figures in the pages of D’Amato’s (Beauty, 1992, etc.) latest futuristic/apocalyptic/sci-fi thriller know.

Now, the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012—and even if it’s lately been discovered that they cooked up a calendar that gives us a few thousand more years, said “ethnic Maya, a twenty-first-century descendant of those guys who built all those palaces in Mexico and Guatemala with the big wacko pyramids with the scary stairs,” young Joachim “Jed” Carlos Xul Mixoc DeLanda really wouldn’t mind if the crawling anthill that is the human world disappeared. “Life sucks,” he sighs. He knows more about it than most, having been sent back in time to save the world from one prophecy, only to decide that the world may not deserve saving. World-weary Jed’s got other world-savers on his trail, including a cool chick named Marena, who calls him as she sees him: “You’re what shit would shit if it could shit.” Never mind the scatological scurrilousness: everyone in D’Amato’s sprawling, busy novel has a job to do in playing the big, elaborate game that will decide the world’s fate. It helps to have a little knowledge of things Mayan to read it, and it helps to be a little geeky—geeky enough, for one thing, to be able to call up in your mind’s eye what the board of the old game Kriegspiel looked like. D’Amato is both funny and brittle, often both at once, as when he remarks of one bright, young thing, “She could end up like Jesus and be dead for a hundred years before the franchise really got going.” Hallucinatory and goofy, D’Amato’s yarn is a kind of Game of Thrones for those who prize jungles more than castles, and if it’s improbable in the extreme, it’s a pleasing and well-thought-through epic. But not one without loose ends that’ll take a sequel to tie up.

Stay tuned for this literate end-of-the-world saga to continue—and well beyond 2012, come to think of it.

Pub Date: June 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-95241-1

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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