by Stephan Michael Loy
LAST DAYS AND TIMES is a novel about fanaticism and the all-too-common gullibility of man.
On March 13, 2013, Pope Francis is elected, some believe, as the final Vicar of Rome. He will see the holy city burned, and the coming of the day of judgment. But is this prophecy true, and does it really mean the end of the world? If so, what does the end of the world mean? What form will it take?
In LAST DAYS AND TIMES, Christian religious fanatics decide that the world is ending, as they thought the world would end in 2000, and before that with the approach of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, and with the approach of asteroid Apophis in 2004. They are convinced the world will end on Christian terms, with the return of Jesus Christ to Earth, the rise of the Antichrist, and apocalypse. They believe this despite the fact that the so-called Prophecies of the Popes are discredited by the church that produced them, authenticated as fakes created long ago to force political gain.
But human fears and magical thinking have little relation to reason. Humans believe what they wish to believe, the facts are just obstacles to overcome.
Such is the mood of LAST DAYS AND TIMES, Stephan Michael Loy’s 5-star rated urban fantasy thriller.
THE SHORT OF IT:
The world lurches toward nuclear Armageddon. A mysterious evangelist-gone-terrorist with supernatural origins hopes to usher in a biblical apocalypse using stolen atomic warheads. Three stand against him, a seer of good and evil, her academic beau, and a disaffected FBI agent. They and the villain may be emissaries of God, but who, in these times, does God truly favor?
THE LONG OF IT:
Almost a thousand tears ago, a Catholic seer experienced a vision. He was blessed with insight into the identities of every pope from that time to the end of days. He wrote these impressions down in the form of short, cryptic phrases, which were subsequently forgotten, buried for centuries in the Vatican Secret Archives.
Five hundred years later, these “Prophecies of the Popes” were rediscovered and found to show incredible accuracy. They also offered terror, as among the predictions was that of the final pontiff of the Church, who would see Rome burned and the coming of Judgment Day.
That final pope would be Francis, elected to his high office on March 13, 2013.
At a quick glance, these prophecies seem terrifying indeed. They seem to garner an authority mustered only through the supernatural. There is only one thing wrong with the prophecies: they were entirely made up. In an attempt to influence a Papal conclave of the time, a monk in the 1500s invented all those predictions up to his time, attributed them to a holy man from five hundred years earlier, then added a bunch of new ones, as well. Among the new “predictions” was one suggesting the monk’s own candidate for the papacy at that time. See, if your man was prophesied to be elected... More important for us, the final falsified prediction was for the Pope Petrus Romanus, whose office would usher in the Christian apocalypse sometime around 2016.
So, who cares? A faked list of predictions happens to come to a close during our time, purporting to usher in the end of the world? Good for a few laughs, right? Except that an awful lot of people actually believe the prediction. Having been robbed of an expected end of the world in 2000, in 2001, and again with the supposed Mayan apocalypse of 2012, those who crave the end times have latched onto this dubious vehicle for bringing the world to its finish. They are themselves laughable, even pathetic, and are not taken seriously by rational men, even by most irrational ones.
But, what if they were? What if the constantly stoked engines of televangelism and doomsaying, starved always for money and validation, took hold of the Prophecies of the Popes and hammered them against their gullible supporters, forging a frenzy of apocalyptic doom during the next few years of Pope Francis’s reign?
What if they tried to help along that doom?
Now, that would be interesting.
That’s what happens in LAST DAYS AND TIMES, a contemporary fantasy thriller likened by readers to the work of Dean Koontz and Dan Brown.
In LAST DAYS AND TIMES, the world panics as mankind perceives itself rushing toward apocalypse. Fundamentalists and new age thinkers of all stripes are convinced the world will end 2016, thanks to the advent of the 266th and final pope. Leveraging that hysteria, Arthur Davidson, a radio evangelist, rises to prominence while promising salvation through him alone. Unknown to everyone, Davidson is a 2000-year-old Roman legate forced by Jesus Christ himself to live and see the end times happen. Immortality has been unkind to Davidson. After centuries of watching loved ones die, after living outside the order of man, he has been driven mad. He is determined to force the apocalyptic prophecies of the Bible to fruition in a hope to end his tortured existence. His “suicide weapon” is nuclear terrorism. He procures ten tactical atomic warheads stolen from a Russian Army facility and attempts to use the nukes to further his plan to bring about the end of time.
The legate’s nemesis is Sally Reiser, a Jewish girl disillusioned with God, whom she blames for the handicap of her six-year-old autistic son. She’s the last of a line of Jewish seers, a family gifted to see the work of God, no matter how beautiful or terrible. Sally allies with an unlikely hodgepodge of Davidson’s enemies. Gary LaMonte, Sally’s lover, is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Religion who has written a thesis on post-millennialism, the effect of the dawning millennium on the mass psyche. Rosa Vasquez is the FBI’s lead agent in the government’s fight against Davidson’s shadow terrorist network, code-named Bible Scholar. John Bennington leads a dark network engaged for centuries against the Antichrist, as he sees Davidson. Together, these imperfect heroes combat the immortal’s mad plans, risking everything to save the planet, save each other, and save the anchors of their souls.
LAST DAYS AND TIMES is a thriller set against a realistic background of modern urban fantasy. This novel should appeal not only to thriller and fantasy readers, but to a wide range of adult readers intrigued by the regular recurrence of post-millennial fever. If you wonder about the nature of love, the nature of God, the place of religion, politics, money and race in society, you will find an engaging story in LAST DAYS AND TIMES.
The characters of LAST DAYS AND TIMES are a dynamic gathering of personalities created to communicate the theme of faith as a means of shaping our world. The three main characters represent the three aspects of that verse from the Bible:
There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
-1 Corinthians 13
Click the PDF files below to enjoy fifty pages of excerpts from LAST DAYS AND TIMES. These excerpts encompass the first three chapters, which introduce the basic conflict and the three primary characters. They do not get into the more supernatural aspects of the story (No spoilers!). You will need a PDF reader such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. You can download Acrobat Reader here, for free.
Introduces SALLY REISER, her motivations, her past, and the mysterious dreams that consume her. Also introduces ROSA VASQUEZ, who discovers the first of the Bible Scholar murders.
Introduces GARY LAMONTE, his home life and the academic pursuit that sets him apart from other graduate students. Also introduces the twin external influences of ARTHUR DAVIDSON and his competitor JOHN BENNINGTON, who together dominate the televangelism industry.
Brings Sally and Gary together. Introduces Sally’s handicapped son EULIE REISER. Bible Scholar strikes a second time. Vasquez is assigned to assemble an FBI task force.
Nothing speaks more to the worth of a book than the acclamations of those who’ve read it. Here are some of the comments offered by readers after their experience with LAST DAYS AND TIMES.
WRITER’S DIGEST MAGAZINE
“LAST DAYS AND TIMES by Stephan Michael Loy will keep readers riveted from the opening line, all the way to the end of the story. Mr. Loy immediately hooks his fans on the opening page filled with strong action and carefully crafted characterization. The narrative in scenes and internal thought is well done and skillfully placed. ...This story is so well written there is no doubt Mr. Loy will have fans clamoring for more.”
“LAST DAYS AND TIMES demonstrates the craft of this author/artist at the large canvas. Stephan Loy paints for us a compelling story with figures we recognize as true and situations we cannot disregard.”
“...fast paced, with impeccable timing, and contains characters whose fates you emote with and care about. Mr. Loy is one good author, and a great writer. I wish him the success that he deserves. I enjoyed this book immensely...”
“Wow, this is the first book I have read from this author, but it surely won't be the last...this book is genuinely good, every bit as engaging and well written as a Dan Brown or Dean Koontz novel.
Great story, realistic people you can relate to and become emotionally attached to, and a fast paced, "keep you reading" type of plot.
KUDOS to you Stephan, you have a new fan!”
“Clever. Gritty. Enlightening.
Words you would hardly expect to see in a review for a tale about the apocalypse. After all, we’ve all read the haughty dime store novels (or at least seen them lined up on the Walmart bookshelves), we’ve all seen the big-budget, 'blow up by numbers' Hollywood disaster movies, we’ve all watched the drab sci-fi TV mini-series that get carted out every fall like Dick Clark on New Year's Eve. What should we expect from a genre designed to play on our primal compulsion to straddle the brake at car wrecks?
Well, quite a lot evidently.
If you’re expecting a predictable end of the world yarn, you will not find it in Stephan Loy’s “Last Days and Times.”
With a fully fleshed cast of characters and a razor-sharp hook that will drag you through a complex and neatly woven narrative, Last Days and Times will not only entertain, it will enlighten.
Issues of faith, race, family, and a snappy whodunit; Loy lights fuses from every angle, leaving the reader to follow the sparks. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself swimming in the powder keg, watching the whole thing go “boom.” And man, what a sight to behold.
Add this one to your reading list before the cataclysm strikes.”
THE MUSIC CITY ORACLE
“Just like Tim Lahaye's LEFT BEHIND, [LAST DAYS AND TIMES is] a fictional account dreamed up in the fanciful whims of a writer based very loosely on scripture, but unlike Mr. Lahaye's series, LAST DAYS AND TIMES is not expected to be taken as truth, and that is one of the many reasons Stephan Loy's novel is more fun to read. While stating this book is better written than the atrocity Mr. Lahaye spewed on the literary world is not much of a compliment, I will say that the pacing and well written characters put LAST DAYS AND TIMES in a much higher category.
...I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to others who love character-driven, fast-paced action novels. No matter what your faith is, it's a fun book to read.”
“Steve has a beautiful way of spinning a story and merging multiple character plot threads into a single compelling story.
Each of the characters has a vivid background that makes you feel like you've known them and could hold real conversations with them.
The speculative nature of the future and the impact upon religion in this story make it hit close to home and keeps the reader firmly gripped in the reality of the world of both the characters and the world we live in, drawing interesting parallels from fact to make the fiction that much more enjoyable.”
“Stephan Loy spins a good yarn in Last Days and Times. I’m normally not into end of the world stuff, but this was recommended by a friend.
He creates protagonists that are real people. You can tell he speaks from the heart when he writes them, and it makes you care about them too. Even though this is firmly in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, the writer comes at it from a place he is intimately familiar with, and thus creates something special.
The villain has depth, and is steeped in Christian Mythology (yeah, I know, He hates it when we call it mythology). Since I studied early Christian history at school I found this extremely interesting, and I was impressed by his research.
I highly recommend Last Days and Times, and hope to see more from this author soon.”
“A hell of a read!”
Faith, hope and love, but we won’t take them in order. Sally Reiser is the primary character in LAST DAYS AND TIMES. She is a twenty-something-year old struggling woman, a disaffected Jew, a writer for supermarket tabloid newspapers (the kind filled with space aliens, predictions by Nostradamus, and Bigfoot). Sally is also mother to a six-year-old mentally and physically handicapped boy, whom she loves and defends with great passion. She blames God for her son’s afflictions. How could the God her parents introduced her to strike down a baby to punish his mother? For Sally feels she is worthy of punishment. She comes out of an abusive marriage to a sadistic, fanatical, fundamentalist Christian, one who saw her as stained in blood for her heritage as a Jew. She escaped that man only to fall into more such relationships, each worse than the one before. But she’s tried to turn her life around, living only for her little boy’s sake. Little does she know how difficult that will be, for Sally is descended from a line of Jews blessed to see the work of God in all its beauty and horror. She cannot escape this destiny; it stalks her like a predator.
Gary is the book’s expression of faith. He is poor, black, lives in a terrible neighborhood, but has faith that his struggles are lessons from God. Gary is a graduate student in Comparative Religion at the local city college, and his thesis paper in post-millennial hysteria has come to the attention of the state government. With the approach of 2012, the government has registered an increase in religiously-based social disruption. They believe Gary can put it into perspective. He meets Sally as part of his research, as she is the acknowledged local expert in “fringe religious wackos”. Despite a rough first meeting, Gary finds himself falling deeply in love with Sally. He becomes an anchor for her, a Christian who respects her, and deserves respect himself.
Completing our trinity of thematic characters is Rosa Vasquez, at the beginning of our story the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge of Terrorism for New York. Vasquez discovers, and is made lead agent for, a series of religiously-based terrorist acts. A mysterious group called Bible Scholar commits multiple mass murders, each time leaving a baffling quote from the Bible. Vasquez eventually employs Gary LaMonte to make sense of her case. In her zeal to bring Bible Scholar to task, she also commits an atrocity of her own, and seeks atonement for the remainder of the story. Vasquez comes to hope that tying herself to Sally Reiser’s destiny will erase the monstrous stain on her soul and help her to live with herself.
Every good thriller needs a bad guy. Arthur Davidson is no ordinary villain. He is a wealthy radio evangelist with a massive following, a man who preaches that the end is near and he is the only path to salvation. He is also, unknown to most, a two thousand-year-old official of the Roman empire, a man who found himself blessed (or cursed!) with eternal life when he once came in contact with Jesus Christ. But immortality does not sit well with Davidson. He grows tired of living, but cannot end his existence. He will live to see the return of Christ in the last days and there is nothing he can do about it. Except, he decides, to bring those last days about. Over decades, Davidson plots to bring about the end times prophecies of the Bible, to hasten the death of the world so that he might also die. Now, his plan comes to fruition as he steals several nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union and plans to use them to spark Armageddon. He has only one fear, the same fear that has dogged him for two thousand years. There are those who are gifted to see through his plots, to forever prevent him from attaining his goal. He has hunted these seers almost to extinction, but one still remains. He fears Sally Reiser.