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2012: The War For Souls
Whitley Strieber
Tor, 320 pages

2012: The War For Souls
Whitley Strieber
Whitley Strieber was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1945. He attended the University of Texas at Austin and the London School of Film Technique, graduating from both in 1968. He then worked for several different advertising firms in New York City, rising to the level of vice president before quitting in 1977 to become a free-lance writer. Four movies have been made from his books, most recently, The Day After Tomorrow based on his novel Superstorm, written with Art Bell. Among his best known novels are The Wolfen and The Hunger, both of which were made into films.

Whitley Strieber Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


'He mouthed the words, too astounded to speak them: The pyramid's collapsing.'
Ever since the publication of the equally celebrated and condemned Communion, the jury has been out on Whitley Strieber. To some he's a crafty chancer, cleverly weaving his fake Grey alien stories into a modern mythology, in tune with the American psyche. Others believe what he writes is at least prophetic fiction and perhaps thinly disguised fact. Wherever the truth may lie, this vein has been a rich source of inspiration for Strieber, and has enabled him to produce works that are entertaining and unsettling. 2012 continues this well trod path, jacking up the tension by including the Mayan prophecy of global change/catastrophe in the eponymous year.

Whatever else he may be, Strieber is a skilled fiction writer who knows exactly what buttons to push. 2012 begins with a big bang, literally exploding the Great Pyramid of Giza. A plot device which screams out movie opening scene. But not to worry, this is in a parallel time line, depicting the world of archaeologist Martin Winters, which is being invaded by nasty aliens using dimensional portals that become available in the year of the title. Meanwhile, on another parallel earth, we learn of alien abduction author Wylie Dale -- a Strieber pseudonym -- as he ponders how best to reveal these events to his readers. Dale is never actually present to observe them, he has trance-like visions of events taking place on Winter's world. The exuberant plot that follows incorporates just about everything followers of this genre love; alien abductions, biological implants, paranormal events, extra dimensional time travel, and inevitably US government conspiracy. Overlaid are Strieber's musings -- via his characters -- on human awareness, the nature of the soul, and the fragility of the human mind. In particular when it comes into contact with his much misunderstood, anal-probing, grey-skinned aliens. Part of the story clearly has a semi autobiographical component, presented though the persona of Wylie Dale, as he reveals the impact events have had on him and his loved ones. It's a fast paced, careening tale, which is the literary equivalent to driving in a fast car; take your eyes off the road, and you're in trouble. For those with a good attention span, there's no problem keeping track of events. At times, Strieber impresses with his eloquent use of language, simultaneously managing to entertain and affect at a deeper level, like a good preacher should. This is especially evident in scenes where characters are witnessing souls being ripped from bodies, and pulled apart. What's lacking, is a credible, well explained, scientific basis for the abundant super-science and metaphysics. Sometimes this produces a sense of disbelief suspended by its neck, only to be saved by the author's well honed story-telling powers.

Not so much apocalypse now as apocalypse in a few years time, 2012: The War For Souls offers a thought-provoking twist on Strieber's previous aliens inspired works, smoothly fused with a possible explanation for what may happen at the end of the present age. What it lacks is plausibility. However, Strieber's inclusion of real life characters at various strategic points, and a dash of parody which shows he's not afraid to laugh at himself, adds that vital sparkle. Without being too specific, I found the ending somewhat lacking in the grit and gravitas befitting the end of the world as we know it. But nothing to put off Strieber's legion of true believers, or his even greater number of fiction fans.

Copyright © 2008 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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