In British screenwriter Pavlou's adolescent first novel, it's March 2012 and huge storms are raging around the globe, sparked by giant sunspots. The villainous U.S. Rola Corporation, drilling for desperately needed oil off Antarctica, discovers strange crystalline artifacts covered with a precuneiform script, while radiation detected under the antarctic ice portends the awakening of powerful alien forces. An unconvincing gaggle of scientists discovers they have only one unholy Holy Week to ship a nuclear device to Antarctica and bomb the underwater threat to smithereens. Pavlou builds his unlikely crescendo of Bad Things from nearly every major folklore, myth and religion, dizzyingly cutting between eye-popping disasters and eye-glazing capsule summaries of linguistics, geology, chemistry, mathematics, numerology, cryptology, archeology, ESP and Edgar Cayce. Stripped down to comic book proportions for the big screen, with a deafening soundtrack and a teenage audience anesthetized to a vocabulary largely dominated by four-letter clichés, this often gruesome tale might make a middling SF adventure flick. The often ludicrous dialogue and the ham-fisted handling of human relations and motivations, however, make for an unfocused novel, one patched together like Frankenstein, with every stitching line, every unnatural feature, unblushingly exposed to the most casual glance. (Sept. 20)
Forecast:An international bestseller, this fictional debut may not be such a big hit here. Wait for the mass market edition to tie in with any film adaptation. Pavlou wrote the screenplay for this autumn's Formula 51 , starring Samuel L. Jackson.