Lost In Space! Reviews of Unknown or Underappreciated Books: #2 Emergence by David R. Palmer

david-r-palmer---emergence-739801Hello again, and welcome back!

So – what, exactly, do I mean by ‘unknown or underappreciated’?

To put it simply – not everyone is a Kevin J. Anderson or David Weber or Eric Flint or Robert Heinlein. Some authors – I would venture to say, MOST authors – produce perfectly fine books: readable, enjoyable, well-structured, skillfully plotted and with fully-developed characters. And yet, something happens.

They never quite get the recognition they deserve. The book slides into obscurity, and the author – having watched their baby disappear from the public eye – often follows.

Well, no more!

I’ve been reading SF for basically my entire conscious life, and when I like a book, I hold onto it. So, for you lucky, lucky readers, I’m diving back into my stacks to find books which deserve another shot at the sunlight.

Imagine this:

End of the world, Cold War-style. Nuclear exchange resulting in the spread of an organism invariably lethal to Homo sapiens. You have spent several weeks in a fancy fallout shelter and have now returned to the surface to discover that, guess what? There’s nobody around.

So how did YOU survive?

And did I mention you are a 11-year-old girl?

That’s the situation the heroine of Emergence finds herself in. Candidia Maria Smith-Foster (“reduced to Candy before ink dried on certificate”) and her macaw, Terry D. (“for Dactyl”) Foster now have to figure out how to survive in a post-human world.

But wait! I hear you cry. How did she survive? Ah, and there’s the rub. And one I can’t answer for fear of the dreaded SPOILERS.

Let’s back up a bit.

Candy is a super-genius, black belt in karate, and not even a teenager. Faced with the destruction of everything and everyone she knew, she sets off on a cross-country trek to find survivors. Her adventures comprise most of the book, though the characters are well-developed. Candy is certainly NOT your run-of-the-mill heroine, and her situation, while not totally unique, is certainly captivating enough to hold your interest. It has mine, since I got my first copy in 1985 (published in 1984 by Bantam).
But even though the story is good and the characters engaging, that is NOT my favorite part of the book.

No, I appreciate most the writing. Specifically, the style – a sort of verbal shorthand. The conceit is that the novel is actually Candy’s journal, written in Pittman shorthand – so all the “verbal flab” is excised. What remains is similar in many ways to Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I think:

No – damned risky. For self (until now personal safety never at issue; could have aborted, exiting same way arrived, exposure limited to possible superficial scorching, crisping around edges) as well as for rescuee. If failed, both dog meat. (Well done.)

Indeed might fail: Strength required far beyond that usually at command. Plus considerable endurance.

Now. Strength available. But endurance most iffy.


The entire book isn’t written that way. Whenever she is speaking with another (dammit – SPOILER!), the conversations are written out in full.
Emergence is not for everyone. But it is definitely different than 99% of the books out there now, and so worth a look in your local library.
For those of you who DO enjoy the book – there is a sequel out there; I am working on tracking it down.

Moving forward, I welcome your comments and suggestions! If there is a book YOU want me to review, drop me a line! You can find me on Facebook (very creatively, Adam Gaffen) or you can send an email to TheKildaran@yahoo.com  OR you can simply leave a comment here!

Thanks – and I’ll be back soon with another lost treasure!

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  1. You’ve established a brilliant series here! I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard mention of a book or author and wondered “how could I have missed THAT one!” This is immediately followed by a mad search for a copy. Yes, I have an ever growing tower of books still in need of readin’, yet, your review of Emergence has me searching once again.

    I see a need for a support group in my near future.

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