Patrick Gibson's Reviews > Decipher

Decipher by Stel Pavlou
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Did you ever notice when the world is facing total destruction, there are usually one or two (a couple thrown together who have never met but are instantly attracted) people who accidently have greatness thrust upon them? And the clock is ticking? He’s handsome, she’s a fox, both are scientists, and the planet will be rescued in three days—or one day—or some ridiculously short amount of time. I have put my share of unread planet in peril books back on the rack after a titillating blurb begs me to join the action packed thrill ride with ‘Stephanie Gobbledegook, a beautiful Russian nuclear geneticist who happens upon Chance Rippedabs, a rogue CIA/FBI/Homeland Security/NOAH archaeologist specializing in ancient Sumerian languages at a phenomenal discovery buried under the Cheops pyramid destined to change the course of human history and together they defeat the evil corporation hell-bent on selling the Sphinx to Disneyworld while using the Hadron accelerator to boost Budweiser fizz.’ Not a bad thing, that last bit, but still . . . put the book back.

Yet every now and then, you need a good page turner that involves destruction on an epic scale. Like a popcorn movie without the hideous soundtrack.

Choose one that mixes mythology, archaeology and religion (with a negative bent on the later). Throw in copious amounts of pseudo-science and techno babble—enough for a months worth of Geek wet-dreams. Add a lot of astronomy and season with some hard core geology. Make sure to stir the mix with generous amounts of convoluted characters who relate to each other by swearing a lot. Place them all over the place so the author has to title every other page as a way of keeping track (most thriller authors do this—so not a big deal). And, if you are going to destroy stuff, make it a lot of stuff and do it in a big big way.

Can you tell I actually liked the book? Apparently I am a sucker for Atlantis myths, ancient cultures far more technological than our own, and anything to do with Egypt. I have no idea if the ‘science’ and language jabber so densely articulated have any ground in reality. I think some of it. But this doesn’t matter. The ideas are clever enough to be compelling. Our sun is actually a pulsar, there is something weird under Antarctica, and one very ancient civilization had an accelerator. Keep it moving and build to a monstrous climax. There are enough twists and turns for a pager turner if you take it for what it is (a good theme park ride). Don’t expect the ditsy grad student assistant to say anything interesting (she doesn’t). She’s a stereo type (bad one) used as a foil to ask dumb questions for brainiac academics to espouse answers epic amounts of myth/theory/science.

It’s all part of the deal. And this deal is: check your logic and literary sensibility at the Don’t-Tell-Anyone-I-Am-Reading-This counter and have a good time.

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