Whitley Strieber’s 2012, a novel that combines the author’s conjectures about UFOs and alien abductions with predictions from the Mayan calendar, was released three years ago. In that book, which reprises characters and some plot elements from the previous year’s The Grays, sentient reptiles from a parallel dimension are trying to cross over to our side and take over.
Since this summer’s Strieber offering is titled Beyond 2012: The Omega Point, readers might expect that this book would continue the story. This, however, is not the case. In the new book it turns out that the world does not come to an end on December 21, 2012, as the Mayans seemed to predict. And signs of relief come from all around the globe.
Not so fast with the sighs. It turns out that, on that date, Earth has entered a cloud of energy from a distant super nova, and the planet begins to be battered not only by gamma rays, but, more and more, by meteors, comets and the accompanying earthquakes, tidal waves and other disasters associated with them. The outlook doesn’t look good.
The only chance for the continuation of the human race appears to be a small group of mental patients in the Acton Clinic, an east coast asylum. Early in the 20th century, a group of scientists learned of the foretold catastrophe and discovered that there was one way to save humanity. The patients in the facility were trained as children for their parts in overcoming the apocalypse and hidden from their potential enemies using drug-induced amnesia and psychosis. Strieber is never very clear about why this was necessary.
As the novel opens, the psychiatrist who ran the Acton Clinic has died in a supposed accident, and David Ford has been hired as his replacement. We soon learn that Ford, also an amnesiac, was trained to lead the special patients in saving the world.
Two problems stand in his way. Ford just can’t seem to wake up and realize who he is and what he learned as a boy. And a group of white supremacists has secretly planted its own man, a highly trained special forces agent named Mack Graham (no relation), in the patient populace. Their agenda is that either the new world order will be populated by a pure Aryan race, or there will be no new world at all.
There is plenty of action, blood and destruction in The Omega Point to keep the pages turning. However, there are also quite a few times in the novel when coincidence and deus ex machina make the premises so unbelievable that they distract from the story and detract from the author’s purposes. A lengthy essay that follows the narrative, “The Author’s Note: The World of Omega Point,” makes these purposes clear and might have worked better as a preface.
And here is my own “Author’s Note.”
I just googled “12/21/2012,” and in .14 seconds 1,980,000 results were made available. If I spend about 40 seconds on each site and don’t take time to eat or sleep or read books about December 12, 2012, or write blogs about them, I can visit almost all of those sites before the world or “the world as we know it” ends.
The next step was to check Amazon.com and maybe I could just read the books about 2012. Amazon offered 33,172 books on the subject. Even allowing for some redundancy, I don’t think I’ll have the time for all of them either.
Mark Graham reviewed books for the Rocky Mountain News from 1977 until the paper closed its doors in February 2009. His “Unreal Worlds” column on science fiction and fantasy appeared regularly for over two decades. He has reviewed well over 1,000 genre books. If you see a Rocky Mountain News blurb on a book, it is likely from a review or interview he wrote. Graham also created and taught Unreal Literature, a high school science fiction class, for nearly 30 years in the Jefferson County Colorado public schools.