Books : reviews

David R. Palmer.
NEL. 1984

rating : 2 : great stuff
review : 21 June 1999

Candy Smith-Foster is 11 years old, a karate black-belt, and a new breed of genius. That’s useful, because the world has ended – everyone else is dead from the plague caused by the biowar. So she sets off to find out if she really is alone, keeping a detailed journal of her travels and experiences. But the end of the world turns out to be the least of her problems.

Sensations accompanying do-it-yourself nasogastric tube removal unlikely to find place in catalog of experiences without which life is not complete.

The compressed syntax of Candy’s journal takes a while to get used to – say about a page – after which it provides a great flavour to all the wry, smart, cynical, pragmatic observations. Then towards the end of the book, other viewpoints give us the chance to view Candy from the outside as well, and to contrast that with the view of her we get from her own account. The plot rips along, remorselessly sucking the reader in to more and more improbable events, until the mind-boggling finale seems like a natural and obvious result.

If you set your willing suspension of disbelief to ’high’ (the shuttle wasn’t that bad, really, but the kodiak bear was going just a bit far...), and if you like Heinlein-esque juvenile geniuses, you should love this. Possibly the best Heinlein juvenile Heinlein never wrote.

David R. Palmer.
Ring of Fire Press. 2008

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 30 June 2020

Meet Candidia Smith-Foster, Homo post hominem, the next step in Mankind’s evolution. She’s an eleven-year-old genius with a Black Belt, and last summer she saved all that remained of her struggling new branch of humanity. Since then she’s been training under an ex-Mossad assassin. She’s just learned who’s been holding her Daddy and now she knows where they are…

As if saving the world once wasn’t enough, Candy Smith-Foster finds herself having to do it again, helped by an over-intelligent Border Collie, while rescuing her father from deepest Russia.

If you want to read a sensible story of everyday post-apocalyptic life, this isn’t for you. But if you want a rollicking, bonkers, over-the-top post-apocalyptic adventure where a smart-mouthed, smart-brained, over-capable super-pre-teen and her dog cut swathes through the bad guys, sit back and enjoy the ride. If you liked Emergence, you’re in for a treat.

David R. Palmer.
NEL. 1985

rating : 3 : worth reading