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.