Firstly I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book. At 629 pages long it’s one of the longest books I’ve read for a while but that’s only because the text is large and well spaced. A testimony to how much I enjoyed it is that it only took me a few days to crank through it and I struggled to put it down most of the time.
The Mayan Prophecy follows the story of Dominique Vasquez and, I can only imagine the symbolically named, Michael Gabriel (yes, not one angel reference but two) as they quest to save humanity from the end of the world. The plot goes into the reasons why the Mayan calendar ends in May 2012 and it’s actually quite well constructed in terms of reasoning. The main plot point focuses around the fact that it wasn’t actually an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. It was actually an alien spaceship that has been lying dormant at the bottom of the ocean. It’s sending out a distress beacon which can only be picked up when the planets line up in a certain way which happens once every several thousand years but is stopped because some other aliens, who helped us build the pyramids and other shit, have prevented them from doing so. Until now.
There are a few popular culture references but because the book was written in 2001 depicting events in 2012, there is some creative license here. For example he writes about a Rolling Stones album called Past Our Prime and Dominique has a car that can test your alcohol level before you drive.
Despite my overall opinion that it’s a good book there were a lot of things that irked me. On page four we kick off with horrendous spelling errors where the non-word ‘qreat’ is used instead of ‘great’. Now, this section of the book is from a journal of one of the characters so it could be argued that this is the portrayal of typed up handwriting. However, even if this is the premise, I don’t agree with it. If you are going to write something for someone else to read, so not a journal, then spell the words right.
On page 56, there is a face scanner which is used to access a health facility as a security precaution. But it’s not referenced again or cleverly bypassed by taking off someone’s face or head to use it so it’s completely redundant in terms of the story. I’m not if this is meant to be another futuristic prediction over security protocols, but I’m sure this could have been less grandiose if so.
Some of the mathematics while fascinating, is not easy on the eyes and at one point, I found myself wondering if what I was reading was actually correct in terms of sentence structure. Unfortunately, Steve Alten doesn’t have a Clive Cussler character around to explain it to the dumbasses like me. One thing I do know though is that light years is a measure of distance, not time. Yet one of the doctor/scientist characters is either making a joke or doesn’t know this when they refer to light years as a measure of time.
There was one more major error I picked up on towards the middle of the book. Michael has magic sneakers that get written off of his feet but then magically get put back on again. And he ends up going barefoot through the alien spaceship. I’m not sure this is the best choice when journeying in to the unknown but to each their own, I guess.
The only other thing I noted was the dialogue kind of falls apart in the second half of the book. It’s almost like the characters stop caring about making sense with their dialogue. That said, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story and I will definitely get the second one to see where it goes.
The Mayan Prophecy by Steve Alten was first published as Domain by Tor in 2001. RRP £6.99 (Paperback)