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As the first week of the year comes to a close, we're taking a look at books set in 2012 to see what authors predicted for the year ahead. Thanks to the abundance of apocalyptic myths surrounding the Mayan calendar, many authors chose 2012 as the go-to setting for futuristic, Armageddon, doomsday novels.
While this week's writers seem to have a soft spot for aliens and world destruction, don’t fret. Instead, brace yourself for a flood of fantastical, fast-paced adventures. (Or just mark your calendars for December 21 as the day to lock yourself in the basement.) According to most of these books, we've entered the year of the apocalypse. Hang on; it may be a wild one.
Angel Fire East (1999)
By Terry Brooks
384 pages, Del Rey, $7.99
In Terry Brooks' third and final installment in his Word & Void saga, protagonist John Ross, a “Knight of the Word” who has been battling the “demons of the Void” for two decades, continues his fight for humanity’s survival in a world filled with monsters threatening to ruin everything good. It’s a classic tale of human forces fighting against evil, stuffed within the framework of a sci-fi adventure.
Ross's mission is to locate and protect a “Gypsy Morph"—a powerful, magical creature that takes the form of a 4-year-old child, affectionately called “Little John." All this drama takes place in Hopewell, Illinois (of all places), and the final, epic battle for humanity’s survival takes place around Christmas 2012. Happy holidays, indeed.
By Stel Pavlou
592 pages, St. Martin's Griffin, $12.04.
It’s March 2012, and the earth is going haywire: Sunspot-generated storms rage all over the world, the U.S. is drilling for oil in Antarctica, and the world’s supplies are almost depleted.
While drilling in Antarctica, a group of miners stumble upon crystal shards covered in bizarre markings that appear to be ancient hieroglyphs. The discovery brings together a squad of scientific leaders, from linguistic anthropologist Richard Scott to Admiral Dower, the chief of U.S. Space Command.
As it turns out, these rocks aren’t only native to Antarctica; they're scattered across the globe from the Amazon to the Pyramids of Giza. As the characters discover the meaning and power of these rocks, Pavlou ties together historical relics and fantastical myths to pen an adventure that brings together ancient Mayan prophecies and space theory to ask the question: Is 2012 the end of humanity?
By Steven Alten
384 pages, Tor Books, $5.98.
The Mayan calendar (and aliens) strike again. The first book of Steven Alten’s Domain Trilogy centers around Mick Gabriel, whose archaeologist father Julius thought the answer to preventing doomsday lay in the riddle of the winter equinox. After Julius passes on the mystery, it’s up to Mick to solve it.
More than the predictably catastrophic host of 2012 problems block Mick's path. There's a messed-up politician who tosses Mick into an insane asylum, nuclear war, evil aliens, and, of course, the countdown to approaching doomsday. With the help of Dominique Vazquez, a psychiatric intern and love interest, he battles impending sci-fi doom and attempts to save humanity.
The Joshua Files
By M.G. Harris
Invisible City (2008)
368 pages, Scholastic, $8.72.
Ice Shock (2009)
368 pages, Scholastic, $8.99.
Zero Moment (2010)
384 pages, Scholastic, U.S. Edition scheduled for July 2012.
Dark Parallel (2011)
368 pages, Scholastic, $9.67.
Apocalypse Moon (scheduled for 2012)
The Joshua Files is a British young-adult thriller series that follows Joshua Garcia through the Mayan ruins where his archaeologist father once worked. Josh’s adventure begins when the accidental death of his father begins to look related to recent research on a missing Mayan codex. Josh is joined by his friends deep into the jungle, where he learns of his own family's implication in the 2012 Mayan prophecy foretelling the end of the world. Josh’s journey takes him through the skeletons of his family closet, the historical mysteries of the Maya, and time itself as he struggles to restore the missing Mayan codex in time to save mankind.
Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age (2008)
Edited by Daniel Pinchbeck
368 pages, Tarcher, $5.86.
We don't know what it is about apocalyptic prophecies that inspires terrible writing about aliens and sci-fi sexual fantasy, but this new-age look at a post-2012 progression of consciousness is a step above. Daniel Pinchbeck hypothesizes that the Mayan prophecy for December 12, 2012 will usher in “a new world age,” one in which cataclysm can be circumvented by a "rapid evolution of collective intelligence." The anthology is comprised of 36 essays ranging from a “pseudo-shaman’s” take on drug trafficking, guerilla gardening in vacant lots, to a piece titled “The Testicular Age.”
The collection can feel a bit spacey at times, but Pinchbeck delivers insightful commentary on how civilization is headed towards improvement. At the very least, it’s a break from another pseudo-alien-rape-abduction narrative set atop a Mayan pyramid.