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Feathered Serpent 2012 by Junius Podrug
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765308351
Date: 16 March 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Approximately two-thousand years ago, an alien crash landed in Mexico, destroying the city of Cuicuilco. The surviving natives worshipped the alien as a god-king and named it Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent. With its help, they built Teotihuacan (Tay-oh-tee-wah-kahn), a large, technologically advanced city with sacrificial pyramids and mutant manbeasts known as Jaguar Knights. An earthquake traps the alien inside a volcano.

In the present, an earthquake releases the Feathered Serpent from its tomb. The alien creates a virus that kills the methane eating archaea bacteria. The unchecked methane begins poisoning water supplies in the Gulf of Mexico and spreading outward, killing millions. Caden Montez (famed astrobiologist and archaeologist), Allen Hunt (former CIA director) and Tah-Han (a two-thousand-year-old athlete from Teotihuacan) must work together to destroy the Feathered Serpent before it murders all of mankind.

Junius Podrug's Feathered Serpent 2012 is a masterpiece of science fiction horror. It combines historical fact with theories of alien visitations and time travel and the 2012 phenomenon. Teotihuacan actually existed (along with its Feathered Serpent Pyramid) and was the largest prehistoric city of Mesoamerica. With a population that exceeded 200,000, it was known as "The City of the Gods." Teotihuacan's population began mysteriously declining around 650 AD and disappeared altogether one-hundred years later. It has become the basis for numerous theories involving aliens.

The most interesting, enthralling part of the Feathered Serpent 2012 is when Tah-Han, the two-thousand-year-old ball player, tells his tragic life story. On orders from the Feathered Serpent, the Jaguar Knights killed Tah-Han's parents. Rescued by his nurse Ome, he was raised among the People of the Rubber. He learns to play ollin, a violent, deadly game of ball. Losers are often crippled or sacrificed. The inhabitants of Mesoamerica constantly live in fear of the bloodthirsty Jaguar Knights who can tear out one's throat. Overseeing them is the vicious Flay Lord, Xipe, who often skins (or flays) his victims alive; the hideous albino wears their skins as garments. Blood sacrifices are an everyday occurrence. They are needed to appease the gods, especially the Feathered Serpent, which has an obsession for blood.

Needless to say, Tah-Han is the most fascinating character and readers will, as I did, take a liking to the young man. He strives to avenge the deaths of his loved ones by killing the Feathered Serpent, the Flay Lord, and those who betrayed him. By means of the Time Explorer, he travels to the present where he meets the alcoholic Allen Holt (whose wife and daughter were killed by a drunk driver) and the beautiful Caden Montez who reminds him of a female ollin player, Ixchel. He becomes Caden's loyal friend and vows to defend her against their enemies. Together, Allen, Caden and Tah-Han search for the Feathered Serpent's hiding place.

Fans of apocalyptic horror will be intrigued by the numerous scenes describing the chaos and destruction that sweeps across the Gulf States. New Orleans is gone; the levees have broken and nature has reclaimed everything. A zone has been established around the affected states to prevent a mass exodus of dying people to the unaffected ones. Anyone trying to escape the zone is shot. Canada, which refuses to allow further immigration, is threatening a war with the United States. Even Alaska is threatening to secede from the rest of the country because they don't want to share their water supplies. Along with starvation and dehydration, survivors are being killed by hoards of werejaguars that are ripping out people's hearts.

Feathered Serpent 2012 is a must read for fans of science fiction horror. It was the perfect read for me. I've always been fascinated by the Aztec religion of human sacrifice, alien abductions, and disaster films. Millions of people are apprehensive about the Mayan calendar coming to an end on December 21, 2012. Numerous theories abound, most of them dealing with the alignment of planetary bodies, which will result in earthquakes and solar flares. Feathered Serpent 2012 is the first story I've read involving alien invasion. Junius Podrug has devised a very bizarre, unique and timely plot. The reader will have a difficult time putting this one down. I sure did.

Allen Holt and his Time Explorer have been used in Junius Podrug's previous novel, Dark Passage. (Feathered Serpent 2012 is not a sequel; it can stand alone.) Muslim terrorists travel back in time to prevent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Podrug's other novels of suspense include Presumed Guilty and Frost of Heaven.

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