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Fans of the late Michael Crichton will welcome this engrossing SF thriller, the first in a projected trilogy by D'Amato (Beauty). As December 12, 2012, the date the Maya predicted would mark the end of the world, approaches, the Warren Group, a shadowy conglomerate, seeks to use technological advances to forestall disaster. One way is to send the mind of Jed DeLanda, a savant skilled at a contemporary version of the Mayas' sacrifice game, into the body of a seventh-century Mayan hip-ball player to learn more about why the apocalyptic prediction was made. DeLanda's time-travel comes just as a devastating calamity, possibly triggered by biological weapons, hits Orlando, Fla. The action shifts easily between the near-future and the past. While the use of modern idiom in the historical scenes may take some getting used to, the period details are as convincing as those in Simon Levack's superb Aztec mysteries (The Demon of the Air, etc.). (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.