News & Reviews
Brian D’Amato is back, and the Apocalypse is coming
Review by BPM Smith
DUTTON, 649 PAGES; HARDCOVER; $29.95
After a hiatus of more than a decade, Brian
is finally back with his sophomore novel "In the Courts of the Sun"
(Dutton) that is equal parts literary exodus, science fiction and
thriller, and oh yes -- don’t forget about the Apocalypse that is
coming in the not-too-distant future.
I became an
instant fan of D’Amato after his promising debut novel "Beauty" in 1992
that led most of us to expect a big follow up. Instead, he created
sculptures, installations and paintings that garnered recognition and
respect in the art world but had most in the insular book scene
figuring he had simply disappeared from the literary landscape.
I’d often look at that copy of Beauty sitting on my bookshelf and think
to myself, "Well, another top talent bit the dust."
Not quite. As he churned out artwork at a prolific rate, he also spent
some 15 years researching the ancient Mayans that’s yielded a dense
novel where a computer savant tries to avert the end of the world that
the ancient civilization forecast would occur on December 21, 2012.
Protagonist Jed DeLanda, a Mayan descendant, spends his time playing
computer games and trading corn futures. But when his former mentor and
a sketchy computer game magnate convince him that he must avert the
Apocalypse by traveling back in time, his life as well as the world’s
future are thrown into chaos.
Since time travel isn’t exactly a perfected technology -- and after
all, this is a thriller --
Jed’s mission is thwarted from the start. Instead of morphing into the
consciousness of a king who can actually do something about Mayan
events, Jed arrives in the body a famous ball player who is about to
throw himself down the steps of the Great Pyramid of IX as a human
As any successful novel that handles issues of time travel, "Courts of
the Sun" smoothly shifts from the near-future to distant past with both
epochs written in convincing, efficient language. Thanks, D’Amato, for
sparing us the boring, long-winded details that some authors lapse into
when trying to convince us of their historical knowledge base.
I had some worry when first opening this massive 649-page tomb (the
advance proofs’ page-count I received will vary from the edition now in
bookstores but you get the idea: it’s a long read), but D’Amato’s
tightly wound pacing thrusts the reader into his world just enough to
keep the pages humming along.
"Courts" will appeal to fans of the late Michael Crichton for its
thriller aspects while some have compared D’Amato to Simon Levack for
his mysteries about he Aztecs.
As a reader and novelist engrossed in the present, I’m especially
interested in finding more about our future according to D’Amato. That
just might happen, since "Courts" is the first of a trilogy. Let’s just
hope he doesn’t make us wait 17 years for his next installment.
Scale: 5 stars:
Incredible!... 4 stars: Excellent... 3 stars: Good... 2 stars:
Mediocre... 1 star: Lame!...
Rating: 4 stars
a longtime journalist and editor of WORD'N'BASS.com, is putting the
final touches on his latest novel "Bistro de Mars." He enjoys dry
martinis, electronic music and trying to pull off absurd bluffs at the
poker table. E-mail him your
comments, gossip or shout-outs at editor (at) wordnbass (dot) com
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