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 clich s, 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. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In a frozen wasteland near the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, a world-weary team of oil drillers jubilantly believes that it has located a major strike. Instead of black gold, however, the men discover a bizarre cluster of rocks with unnatural markings similar to ancient hieroglyphs. Shortly afterward, these enigmatic rocks begin to appear in seemingly unrelated sites across the globe, including the Amazon River and an underground chamber beneath the Sphinx. A crackerjack squad of the world's premier geocryptologists soon determines that the stones are actually composed of carbon 60, a superior energy source previously unknown to modern science. From this point, the plot machinations are revved into overdrive with all the subtlety of an avalanche. Solar flares, Atlantis, ancient Mayan prophecies, the Book of Revelations, and unexplained worldwide cataclysms are tossed into the mix, creating enough fringe ideas to make an Art Bell radio show listener drool. Ludicrous theories about the origins of carbon 60 are proposed, and the narrative is continually peppered with textbook passages that attempt to ground the science in reality. Pavlou does not exactly strike gold with this initial effort, but regardless of its faults, Decipher remains a semiprecious page-turner. For larger fiction collections.-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A rocketing adventure...Stel Pavlou's debut novel burst with marvels of scientific chitchat and towers above most recent science fiction.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Few debuts are as ambitious as Decipher. Exhilaratingly imaginative.” Sunday Times (UK)
“A wide-screen special-effects Technicolor blast; perfect for a Hollywood blockbuster.” The Times (London)
“Deep, smart, and well-researched.” SFX
“A fascinating blend of science, mythology, language, and much more.” The Independent (London)
“If Michael Crichton isn't nervous, he should be. Not only has Stel Pavlou written a scientific thriller that's as tautly plotted a roller-coaster ride as anything Crichton's ever written, but he's done so using intelligent characters, and a clever, synergistic premise. The weaving of scientific detail with imagination is superb and unparalleled.” Zentertainment.com
Read an Excerpt
tep eepiTHE FIRST TIMEAVESTIC ARYANS--PRE-ISLAMIC IRAN--MIDDLE EAST
Ahura Mazda created Airyana Vaejo, the original paradise and birthplace of the Aryan race. There were seven months of summer and five of winter. But after Angra Mainyu, the Evil One, was finished, there were only two months of summer and ten of winter. A mighty serpent, intense cold, thick ice and snow is all that haunts the land now. It is so cold that nothing can survive there. Yima, instead of building an Ark, was ordered to make a Var, an underground place linking the four comers so that specimens of every living thing could be brought there and saved.
Excerpt from: Tales of the Deluge: A Global Report on Cultural Self-Replicating Genesis Myths, Dr. Richard Scott, 2008EVIDENCE BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE WASHINGTON D.C. JUNE 14, 1960(Based on actual transcripts)
"If this agreement is approved," Senator Aiken said as he tapped out his ash from behind a thick veil of blue cigarette smoke, "Antarctica becomes a country without a government. Of course, it doesn't have too much government now, but no government is provided for Antarctica under any conditions in the future?"Herman Phleger shuffled through his papers and coughed, hoping to cash in on some spit. He failed. It was a hot, humid day. The brass and maple ceiling fans worked overtime. A whiff of freshly cut grass wafted in from the lawn outside. Manicured, the way mankind intended. And Herman Phleger was forced to cough again."Is there a problem, Mr. Phleger?""Uh, yes, sir--" Phleger croaked. He looked around for a clerk. Stood."Please use the microphone in front of you, Mr. Phleger. I think we're all agreed we can't quite hear you." The Senator's smile to his colleagues was a craggy one. There was a ripple of humorless laughter from the rest of the committee. It echoed off the wood paneling and around the sparsely populated Congressional hearing room.Phleger leaned down close to the gadget. The squeal of feedback was painful. "Uh, I could use some more water, Senator." He straightened his tie and re-took his seat.Aiken waved at a clerk to take some water over to the State Department's legal advisor. After all, Herman Phleger was the man who had headed the U.S. delegation at the Conference on Antarctica. He at least deserved a glass of water.Phleger leaned in close to the microphone again as he adjusted his chair and thanked the Senator. He could almost hear the old bastard's cogs whirring from across the room.The Red scare. Grab some territory now while we still can. What with Khrushchev still fuming over that U-2 spyplane business back in May and Eisenhower on the defensive, sending 120 planes out to Southeast Asia last Thursday. Yeah, okay, so China and Russia aren't exactly on speaking terms but. that's playing with fire. Of course Francis Gary Powers was working for the military: everyone in the State Department knew that. Although it wasn't exactly a lie when the government had tried to say he was flying a "weather" plane. They simply wanted to know "whether" or not the Russians had any missiles in the area.The clerk set a pitcher of ice water down on the desk. The legal advisor ignored the hissing and popping of exploding ice cubes as he poured himself a glass and gulped down a mouthful."Senator," he said, sighing with relief and mopping at his brow, "the Treaty specifically provides that no one surrenders its claim. There are seven claims which cover eighty percent of Antarctica: the United Kingdom, France, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. You take the sector Argentina and Chile have--they've incorporated it into their metropolitan territories and have criminal codes which they claim apply to them, and the same is true with respect to New Zealand. So they do have government in those territories." So tough shit, Senator, we just weren't quick enough when it was time to stake a claim. Just be glad the Russkies don't have a plot either. Phleger coughed again. "So, Senator, there may only be fifty people in the area but they do have governments."Aiken was clearly uncomfortable with that thought. He shifted in his chair, like his ass spoke his mind for him. "But after the adoption of this Treaty, would the laws of a dozen countries apply?"Phleger didn't need to check his notes. He shook his head. "The Treaty says that the signatories do not give up their claims, but the other signatories like the United States that do not recognize their claims do not by the Treaty recognize the claims and their position of non-recognition." There, that ought to confuse the old buzzard. It did. He watched him shift on his ass again.Phleger pretended to be impatient. "For instance," headded, "if there was a commercial man--the Treaty deals with scientists and it deals with military matters ..." It was clear Aiken wanted a re-cap on that area. Phleger took another breath."Okay," he said, "if we send a scientist or an inspector into the section claimed by Chile, he can't be arrested by Chile. Our jurisdiction applies to him no matter where he is in Antarctica--because we made the decision not to recognize other claims to the territory, and because those other claimants made the concession that they would allow our scientists and unarmed military personnel to work within their territory on Antarctica. But, if there should be a mining engineer who went down into the sector claimed by Chile and he got into some trouble, Chile would claim that its laws governed."Aiken frowned.Phleger shifted this time. Was Aiken really that low on short-term memory? "And in that case, Senator," he explained, "we would claim that Chile's law did not govern because we do not recognize Chile's claim, and there would then be an international controversy as to who had jurisdiction over the individual."It was double-Dutch. Phleger knew it was double-Dutch. Aiken didn't appear to know it was double-Dutch, but he didn't appear not to know either. Which was fine. So long as they were all in agreement. Since in essence, they were merely playing out what the Antarctic Treaty stated, which was: no matter what the claims of a single country over the region known as Antarctica, those claims could be freely ignored by everyone else. Except, and this was an important proviso, except in the case of a military build-up, which, it was agreed, was to be banned by everyone. Totally. Unless, of course, someone infringed upon the rights of the others as set out by the Treaty, in which case--"We don't even recognize any claim of our own, do we?" Aiken reiterated.Phleger almost nodded. He rubbed his chin. This was their "legal" reasoning. "By recognizing that there is no sovereignty over Antarctica we retain jurisdiction over our citizens who go down there and we would deny the right of the other claimants to try that citizen. Yes."Aiken sat back in his chair, a crooked grin on his craggy face. That pleased him enormously. He stubbed out his cigarette and immediately reached for another. "Boys, I think we just found one more virtue of the bomb!" There was another ripple of laughter. He was right. Aside from the Soviet Union, who the hell was going to argue with them? You didn't need to be the first. You needed to be the toughest.Aiken lit the fresh cigarette and inhaled. He had a curious look on his face. Somber. "Suppose, Mr. Phleger," he pondered, "that there was a sudden and tremendous demand for emperor penguins?""Sir? I'm not sure I'm follow--""Penguins, Mr. Phleger. There are serious conservation issues here. What if people went down there and started killing all the emperor penguins? Who could prevent that?""The people in each of the geographical areas covered by the seven claimant nations would claim they had a right to protect those penguins.""Then suppose one of our boys went into the Chilean area and stole a snow cat. What law would he violate?"A snow cat?! What on earth was this old buzzard talking about? Snow cats didn't come from Antarctica. Phleger bit the bullet. "The Chileans apply Chilean law," he said."And we would deny it?""We would apply U.S. law and we would have an international controversy.""I see.""Senator, it doesn't matter, the reason for the crime. Yes, the environment down there is an issue in the Treaty, but the situations you describe just aren't covered. We would have to go to mediation over the issue, if it ever arose. We are dealing with an area where we have no territorial claims and this Treaty deals with matters in the international field exclusively. That's why it's important that Antarctica remain demilitarized."Aiken's face adopted another grimace. "That's all well and good, Mr. Phleger, but supposing natural resources of great value were discovered in Antarctica, of value enough so that it would justify an immense cost to exploit them. It might be a vein of diamonds a foot thick."Phleger let a sneer cross his face. He was no fan of Aiken, but he was a patriot. "There is no provision in this Treaty which would deal with that situation, Senator. If there was a discovery of value in a sector which was claimed by one of the claimant nations it would naturally claim sovereignty and the right to dictate the manner of exploitation. The United States on the other hand, never having recognized the validity of that claim, is in a position to assert that it has rights in respect thereto. And of course, should someone break the Treaty on demilitarization to protect its claim, the United States may use whatever force is necessary in order to protect the Treaty."Aiken smiled. "At least, that's what we can say.""Yes, Senator. We can."
The Antarctic Treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate by 66 votes to 21 on August 10, 1960. And that was how the world left it until 1993, when it was agreed that everyone should plow through this shoddy mess one more time. And again it was agreed that apart from the banning of the military and banning the exploitation of mineral wealth in respect to the environment, no country could lay claim to Antarctica.Which was a dangerous conclusion to reach for a number of reasons, one of which had yet even to be addressed. For it proved that the Antarctic Treaty's vague double-talk had achieved exactly what it had set out to do: that should it stand as law in the face of overwhelming social change, its basic tenet would remain: that if anything of value were discovered in Antarctica; anarchy would reign supreme.The Antarctic Treaty guaranteed that even if mankind had any desire to rid itself of the Seven Deadly Sins, Greed had been assured of a place in our hearts by virtue of time. By writing it down on a piece of paper and parading it as law and belief, Greed could be resurrected at a moment's notice.That was the beauty of the written word. It was invariably taken at face value and granted permit to be spoken as the truth. It lived longer than the man.And wreaked havoc in the process.DECIPHER. Copyright © 2001 by Stel Pavlou. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.