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The Omega Point: Beyond 2012    by Whitley Strieber order for
Omega Point
by Whitley Strieber
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2010 (2010)
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Whitley Strieber's The Omega Point: Beyond 2012 is an odd mix of horror, end times novel, and post-apocalyptic science fiction. He tells the story of a 2020 world in which solar storms rage, after the sun is affected by energy from a supernova wave (as apparently happened in previous cycles of Earth's history, including the catastrophe that gave rise to the world's flood legends). Technology is disrupted, the world's uber-wealthy cower underground in bunkers, and folk fear that the end has come for humanity.

In this alarming context, psychiatrist David Ford is hired by elderly Aubrey Denham to run the Acton Clinic. They travel there together by jet and she explains why he was chosen, which has little to do with his qualifications and a lot to do with a past history he is unable to recall. Aubrey tells David that he was trained at the clinic as a child and that he is a shepherd, uniquely qualified to navigate through the current crisis. She also warns him that many of his childhood class peers are patients in the clinic, hidden there with induced psychoses for their own protection - and that he must awaken them.

Before she can tell him more, Aubrey Denham is assassinated and David left in charge of a clinic resented by the locals, many of its staff distrusting him, and with supplies quickly evaporating. Clinic patients include ruthless ex-CIA operative Mack Graham, who has been planted there as a spy and saboteur. When a new patient, Caroline Light, arrives, both David and Mack wonder about her role. Odd things begin to happen, followed by Mack the Cat's escape and instigation of an attack by locals.

Caroline and David end up in flight, with Mack and the military in close pursuit. They are intent on acquiring a unique painting that Caroline created (a hyperdimensional object that will provide a portal elsewhere for those who can be saved) and on learning how to use it. While all this goes on, humankind is being winnowed - 'The elect are rising, the judged sinking into the dark center of the earth.' The remainder will only have the chance for survival that the portal might provide them.

It becomes a race against time - and against evil - to fulfill the prediction, 'Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.' Though I can't say that I enjoyed The Omega Point: Beyond 2012, it's an imaginative tale that will appeal to end times fans as well as those who appreciate post-apocalyptic SF.

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