cover image Phobos: Mayan Fear

Phobos: Mayan Fear

Steve Alten. Tor, $24.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3033-8

In Alten’s messy third Domain thriller (after Resurrection), a handful of genetically selected heroes, products of alien intervention, struggle to save humanity from its own hubris. A narrow escape from apocalypse in 2012 and a program to replace oil with sustainable energy sources may count for nothing, since misguided experiments by humans in particle physics have left Earth infested by an undetected but growing black hole, even now consuming our world from within. The salvation of humanity depends on the successful exploitation of a time loop and mastery of conflicts that in previous lives overwhelmed the would-be messiahs. A mélange of pop-science fearmongering and superstitious doomsday prognostication, this installment careens through its bloody plot with little coherence and huge body counts, appropriating misunderstood fragments from volcanology and physics as well as Mayan and Abrahamic mythology to construct a world of unending calamities where even heroes are reduced to mere puppets of off-stage alien forces. (Oct.)