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Book Review: Emergence by David R. Palmer [message #118699] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:33 Go to next message
Anonymous
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Originally posted by: @RUTGERS.ARPA,@SRI-CSL:Hank.Walker@CMU-CS-UNH.ARPA
Message-ID: <853@topaz.ARPA>
Date: Sun, 3-Mar-85 16:01:02 EST
Article-I.D.: topaz.853
Posted: Sun Mar  3 16:01:02 1985
Date-Received: Wed, 6-Mar-85 02:43:13 EST
Sender: daemon@topaz.ARPA
Organization: Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
Lines: 24

From: Hank.Walker@CMU-CS-UNH

"Emergence" is David R. Palmer's first novel.  It was issued by Bantam in
paperback last November.  Emergence is based on the novelette "Emergence"
and the novella "Seeking" which appeared in the January 5, 1981 and February
1983 issues of Analog magazine.  Rewritten versions of these stories
comprise the first third of the novel.  These stories won Palmer a Nebula
nomination, two Hugo nominations, and two John W. Campbell nominations for
best new writer.  And these were his first two stories!  Emergence
chronicles the adventures of 11-year-old Candy Smith-Foster.  She is a
disease-immune superhuman homo post hominem, "man who follows man", created
by fetuses exposed to a flu epidemic.  A biowar has wiped out homo sapiens.
Hominems are divided into two classes, the AAs, recognized, studied, and
given all the advantages in life, and the ABs, with ordinary upbringings
that turned many into  sociopaths.  Armed with an AA address list, Candy
sets out with her pet macaw Terry on a quest to find AAs, solve the mystery
of why they have all moved away, while meeting up with other people, both
good and bad.

Spider Robinson's cover blurb states "This is probably the best first novel
I have ever read."  I completely agree.  The two Analog stories were easily
as good as their awards competition.  Do other people have their choices for
best first novel?  Possibilities that come to mind are Brin, Varley, and
Forward.
Re: Book Review: Emergence by David R. Palmer [message #118711 is a reply to message #118699] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
draves is currently offline  draves
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Registered: September 2013
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Message-ID: <420@harvard.ARPA>
Date: Mon, 4-Mar-85 02:17:21 EST
Article-I.D.: harvard.420
Posted: Mon Mar  4 02:17:21 1985
Date-Received: Wed, 6-Mar-85 04:14:26 EST
References: <853@topaz.ARPA>
Organization: Aiken Computation Laboratory, Harvard
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I enjoyed Emergence while I was reading it, but upon
thinking back I noticed many problems with the book.
I don't think the characterizations are that good.  On
the other hand, I can't remember a genius protagonist whose
intelligence was very convincing.  Most importantly,
I found the plot twists at the end completely unbelievable.
Palmer could have found a better continuation to his
novella and novellette.

Still, I did enjoy the book for some unfathomable reason.
I get the feeling Palmer analyzed his intended audience of
Analog readers and concocted a story designed to cater to
their tastes.

Rich
-- 

	"a picture in the head is a gory murder in an art gallery"

					-- Stephen Kosslyn
Re: Book Review: Emergence by David R. Palmer [message #118775 is a reply to message #118699] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
bothner is currently offline  bothner
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Message-ID: <3597@Shasta.ARPA>
Date: Wed, 6-Mar-85 18:45:15 EST
Article-I.D.: Shasta.3597
Posted: Wed Mar  6 18:45:15 1985
Date-Received: Sat, 9-Mar-85 10:23:14 EST
References: <853@topaz.ARPA> <420@harvard.ARPA>
Organization: Stanford University
Lines: 41

I read the 2nd novella "Seeking" last year (so I could vote
intelligently for the Hugos), and later the 1st novella. It's a
long time since I read anything else so painfully bad.
The main problem is the sickeningly cute and precocious
writing style. Palmer has a tin ear for language, style and
mood. If he's deliberately trying to write that way because
he's trying to imitate an 11-year-old genius, that only
compounds his crimes (by adding intent to the insult).

> I get the feeling Palmer analyzed his intended audience of
> Analog readers and concocted a story designed to cater to
> their tastes.

Algis Budry wrote a very entertaining analysis of a phenomenon
he called "fannish sf". This is sf which becomes very popular in
the fan community, not because of literary qualities, but
because it strikes some chord in the fannish psyche. The same
novels which win Hugos etc, might leave many people outside
fandom totally cold. This controversial article appeared in
"The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction", and was reprinted
in one of the latest antholgies of "The Best from ...".

Budry's analysis was built around a (positive) review of the first
volume of Julian May's four-volume "Saga of the Pleistocene Exile",
but I think it is even more applicable to Palmer's novel.
The obvious point of resonance is that fans (Btw, I'm one myself)
consider themselves "the people of the future", homo post hominem,
just like Palmer's young heroine. Remember that most of us are
intelligent, introverted, over-achievers who can easily project
ourselves into this kind of protagonist. I, too, might have
enjoyed the story, if only Palmer knew how to use the language.

Heinlein had many of the same themes in his novels, which sometimes
had similar weaknesses (e.g. Podkayne). But usually, his
straightforward writing style made his books enjoyable.

Another parallel is the 50's battle cry of "Fans are Slans",
inspired by van Vogt's then-popular novel "Slan".

	--Per Bothner
ARPA: bothner@su-score	UUCP: ...!{decwrl,ucbvax}!shasta!bothner
Re: Book Review: Emergence by David R. Palmer [message #118793 is a reply to message #118699] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:36 Go to previous message
gail is currently offline  gail
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Registered: May 2013
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Message-ID: <298@ra.UUCP>
Date: Fri, 8-Mar-85 16:45:33 EST
Article-I.D.: ra.298
Posted: Fri Mar  8 16:45:33 1985
Date-Received: Sun, 10-Mar-85 07:34:56 EST
References: <853@topaz.ARPA>
Reply-To: gail@ra.UUCP (Gail B. Hanrahan)
Organization: Calma Company, San Diego, CA
Lines: 11
Summary: 


The search for Peter Bell was the driving force behind 
"Seeking" (the novella and the section of the novel Emergence).
What happened to Peter Bell?  This is never resolved in
the book.  Will there be a sequel?  (I liked the book, but
I'm getting awfully tired of sequels...)


Gail Bayley Hanrahan
Calma Company, San Diego
{ihnp4,decvax,ucbvax}!sdcsvax!calmasd!gail
Re: Book Review: Emergence by David R. Palmer [message #119800 is a reply to message #118699] Thu, 07 March 1985 16:12 Go to previous message
Anonymous
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Originally posted by: brust@hyper.UUCP (Steven Brust)
Article-I.D.: hyper.122
Posted: Thu Mar  7 16:12:50 1985
Date-Received: Wed, 13-Mar-85 01:09:57 EST
References: <853@topaz.ARPA>
Organization: Network Systems Corp., Mpls., Mn.
Lines: 13

> From: Hank.Walker@CMU-CS-UNH
> 
> Do other people have their choices for
> best first novel?  Possibilities that come to mind are Brin, Varley, and
> Forward.

Some possibilities that come to mind are Diane Duane's DOOR INTO (FIRE?
SHADOW?)  Dammit, which one came first?  and MacAvoy's TEA WITH THE BLACK
DRAGON.  However, I think it comes down to two other possibilities:
Pamela Dean's THE SECRET COUNTRY and Roger Zelazny's AND CALL ME CONRAD
(aka THIS IMMORTAL).

                              - SKZB
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