Emergence (book review)
Emergence, by David Palmer, is one of my favorite books in the world. Actually, if I'm posting a review of a book, odds are that it's one of my favorite books in the world, because I'd be unlikely to waste my time reviewing something I dislike (yes, J.R.R. Tolkein, I'm looking at you).
Anyway, I really liked Podkayne of Mars when I was a kid (the original editor's ending; not Heinlein's horrible one), but Candy Smith-Foster, the protaganist and narrator of Emergence is everything Poddy was, and more. In the wake of an all out bioatomic war that's killed virtually everyone on the planet, 12 year old Candy sets out to find the other survivors.
I know, it sounds like any number of other post-apocalyptic novels, but trust me, it's nothing like them. This is not War Day, and it's not The Stand. Candy is cheerful and almost painfully optimistic. Determined and lethal (the youngest ever 6th degree black belt in karate), her adventures are a roller coaster of hope and achievement. The one thing that may be difficult for some readers is that Candy writes in a sort of shorthand. Well, in the story, she's actually keeping her journal in Pittman shorthand, but even what we read leaves out unnecessary bulk. Articles, pronouns, etc., that are implicit. But once you start reading it, you quickly stop noticing the unusual style.
The book is inexplicably out of print. But I've seen it in used bookstores, and you can always try Bookfinder. And if you click on the image at the top, you can see a comment on the book's Amazon.com page from Palmer, saying that he's working on a sequel (!), which I hadn't known about until I started writing this review. I hope they re-release Emergence when the sequel comes out, because this book is just too good to disappear.
On the back cover of the edition I have, there's a line from Spider Robinson that says "You, lucky reader, are about to meet one of the most engaging characters in science fiction history -- and the best new writer since John Varley -- and if you fall hopelessly, shamelessly, head over heels in love, don't say I didn't warn you." Honestly? I don't think I could say it any better than that.