The end is nigh. Very nigh, so say countless credible-sounding experts who have had their eyes on Dec. 21, 2012 as the potential end of the world as we know it, a date engrained in doomsday theory since at least 1966.
Surely you’ve heard of the trend by now, whether through bad Hollywood movies like “2012” or scholarly reports on the History Channel or alternative media. Most of the doomsday logic has its roots in the Mayan Long Count calendar, which ends a 5,125-year cycle two days from now. Mainstream science has spent almost as much time debunking doomsday prophecy as its fringe promoters have spent warning us about it.
One thing is for sure, however: Apocalyptic dangers do feasibly lurk beyond our grasp and even our solar system, and pondering them can make for great fiction. Steve Alten, a New York Times best-selling science fiction author based in Palm Beach County, has been doing just this, beginning the publication of Domain in 2001. The novel, which details the drama surrounding the institutionalized son of a controversial doomsday scientist, became the first in an ongoing series that includes 2011’s Phobos: Mayan Fear, a complex page-turner that explores numerous apocalyptic scenarios both natural and man-made – not to mention the idea that mankind may have had extraterrestrial benefactors.
Alten has discussed doomsday prophecy on several occasions with Coast to Coast AM, the top-rated, nationally syndicated overnight radio show, and he spoke to Boca Raton magazine this past weekend.
Is anything going to happen on Dec. 21? And should we all have been making doomsday preparation in advance of the date?
As a thriller writer who has spent the last 15 years researching the Mayan prophecy, I look for factual threats that could happen at some point and take creative license so that they occur on December 21, 2012. In Grim Reaper: End of Days, a man-made biological threat forces the isolation of Manhattan on December 20. In Phobos: Mayan Fear, two very real, very frightening ticking time bombs of Mother Nature erupt, threatening mankind. Both doomsday scenarios are real, whether they happen on Friday or another day in our future. By writing about them, I hope to increase public awareness so we can prevent them. As far as preparing, if you hear that the volcano on La Palma Island erupted, get the hell away from the east coast immediately!
Your book explores the idea (I think) that the Hunahpu, of Mesoamerican mythology, were our extraterrestrial benefactors. I’ve seen episodes of Ancient Aliens and Unsealed: Alien Files that have delved into this phenomenon of alien ancestry but have heard zero solid evidence from them – just a lot of questions like “is it possible…?” and “Could it be…?” Do you think this will change in our lifetimes, or will it forever remain in the realm of conspiracy theorists?
The questions I present and answer in my Domain series is how certain things came to be. Take Rh-negative blood. The Rh factor is a protein found in human blood that links Homo Sapien DNA to primates, specifically the Rhesus monkey. Eighty-five percent of the world's population is Rh positive. Conversely, fifteen percent of the Earth’s human population is Rh negative, meaning the evolutionary link to primates DOES NOT EXIST. Where did it come from? Why does Genesis-6 refer to “the sons of God” breeding with human females? Who was Kukulcan, and why was this Mayan wise man described as a bearded Caucasian five hundred years before the first white European invaders came to Mesoamerica? And what about his elongated skull – a feature emulated by the Mayans, who used to strap wooden boards to their infants’ heads to deform the bone?
It’s easy to dismiss these mysteries as fodder for conspiracy theorists, but having spoken to Dr. Stephen Greer and read the eyewitness accounts from his Disclosure Project, I find myself becoming more convinced that we’re not alone in the universe. Will they ever be resolved? Yes. Right after we figure out who shot Kennedy.
Define your process of “faction” writing.
Faction is getting the facts right to the smallest detail, which blurs the lines to the reader between what is real and what is fiction. I spend weeks and often months continuously researching my story because it’s the real stuff that energizes the journey for my readers and allows them to accept the elephant in the living room.
Has anything you’ve written about in the previous Domain books come to pass in reality?
Many things. Domain was written in 1998; Resurrection in 2003. There have been toxic tides in the Gulf, private investment into space flight, iPads (see opening chapter in Domain), the threat of nukes in Iran, and many smaller futuristic details. I shudder to think what may come to pass in Phobos: Mayan Fear.
Your prose has a way of keeping readers on their toes by switching up the format; in addition to the narrative style, there are portions written as affidavits, news reports, minutes from meetings, personal journals, classified intelligence documents – plus charts and illustrations, and quotes from real scientists. How did you develop this structure?
In Domain, I had lots of cool factual gobs of information I needed to share with the reader without bogging down the story, so I created excerpts taken from the Journal of Julius Gabriel, which became a story within the story. In Resurrection, I created a character’s perspective of being a passenger on a Mars shuttle – one of 12 which escaped our doomed planet but were inhaled by a wormhole and ended up a million years in the future. In Phobos: Mayan Fear, I used (with permission) actual testimonies from the Disclosure Project of military personnel and FAA techs who bore witness to UFOs – all to justify the extraterrestrial presence in the story. They key in each case was to establish the information while not losing momentum in the plot.
Some of your more critical reviewers have criticized your recent writing, Phobos included, as being “too political.” As a political junkie myself who believes pretty much everything in our lives is political, I can’t imagine such a reaction … but how do you respond to that?
Simply put, I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em. If the neo-cons write a document that is a prelude to an invasion of Iraq and Iran three years before 9-11 (see Project for a New American Century) and Republicans like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld sign the damn thing and I weave that fact into my novel, does that make me too political? My job is to tell a story, and if the facts indict one political party, then so be it. I received serious threats a month BEFORE The Shell Game was published in 2008, and much of that plot has come to pass. If a suitcase nuke detonates in the U.S. and leads to an all-out invasion of Iran, don’t blame me … I tried to warn you.
As someone who has made such an impact on adolescent readership, do you consider age-appropriateness of your content in the Domain series as well? According to your promotional material, the book is recommended for grades 11 and 12; I’m a 30-year-old college graduate and even I had to read slowly and methodically to keep up with some of this material, it’s so dense.
Adopt-An-Author is a free nationwide nonprofit program I organized back in 1999 after I became inundated with e-mails from teens who hated reading but loved my first novel, Meg – a thriller about Carcharodon Megalodon, the 70-foot prehistoric cousin of the Great White shark. The program was encouraged by teachers in high school, and we now have over 10,000 registered educators. The program works because the books are exciting for teens, even though they are adult books. In addition to offering free curriculum materials, I correspond with students via e-mail, in-class phone calls over speakerphone, and thru personal visits.
The recommended age for a title is more a reflection of the subject maturity. For instance, I don’t recommend The Shell Game, which is too controversial for some parents, or Resurrection, which is too racy. Most of the schools use the Meg series and The Loch. Monsters tend to devour all political parties.