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Literature / Emergence

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When you're eleven and even more life-altering things are happening around you than a bionuclear war....

Written by David R. Palmer, Emergence is the story of Candy Smith-Foster, an eleven-year-old black belt genius. She has the good fortune to be exploring her home's survival shelter, along with her pet/sibling Terry (a hyacinth macaw), while her father is out of town (Mom is deceased) when a bionuclear war breaks out. She rides out the attack and subsequent epidemic and emerges from the shelter to sort out her post-apocalypse life and, she hopes, find other survivors. Then she finds a letter from her much-loved karate teacher and next-door neighbor that totally rearranges what plans she has, plus everything she thought she knew about herself.

What she didn't know is that there's a new Human Subspecies around, homo post hominem, stronger, faster, and smarter than homo sapiens, immune to human diseases and with much better senses, or that she's a hominem.

When she finds out, she sets out to find other hominems, who are expected to have survived World War III. She also finds that there's an even bigger threat to her species just waiting to strike.

A sequel, Tracking, was serialized in Analog in 2008. This was released as a novel in 2019.

Emergence contains examples of:

  • Adam and/or Eve: The first fellow survivor Candy meets is a boy about her own age who prefers to be called Adam. She thinks this is seriously cliched, but when she finds out his real name (Melville Winchester Higginbotham Grosvenor Penobscot-Jones IV), she decides he has a point.
  • Disappeared Dad: Candy's father was in Washington, D.C. (a known target for heavy bombing), when the war broke out, so is presumed dead. Lisa's father, Jason, died accidentally shortly after the epidemic.
  • Dominant Species Genes: A sapiens/hominem mating always produces a hominem child. There are some very nasty humans around who will take some very extreme measures because of this.
  • Embarrassing First Name: "Adam", whose real name is really long: Melville Winchester Higginbotham Grosvenor Penobscot-Jones IV.
  • Evil Detecting Bird: Terry takes an immediate and intense dislike to Rollo, an opinion that proves to be totally justified.
  • Happily Adopted: Candy. Her birth parents, the Smiths, were killed in a traffic accident when she was a baby, and she speaks very lovingly of her adoptive parents, the Fosters.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: The hominem solution to an orbiting nuclear bomb.
  • Ideal Illness Immunity: Hominems are immune to human diseases, but not to food poisoning, as one hominem character learns the hard way in the course of finding out he is a hominem. In the sequel, another unknowing hominem makes a similar discovery, but doesn't even know hominems exists until he and Candy meet.
  • Innate Night Vision: Hominems can see into the infrared range. See Super-Senses below.
  • Mama Bear: Candy to Terry, as Rollo finds out after making the fatal error of threatening Terry. In discussing the incident, Candy refers to Terry as her "child substitute". Also, Kim with daughter Lisa, as a would-be rapist finds out the fatal way.
  • Missing Mom: Candy's adoptive mother died several years before the events of the first book. In the second book, we find out she died of leukemia.
  • Neck Snap: Candy does this to enemy agent Kyril, while they're in freefall in an orbiting space shuttle. It helps that she's able to take him by surprise via emotional manipulation.
  • Old Master: Next-door neighbor and karate instructor Soo Kim McDivott, most commonly called Teacher by characters who know him.
  • Omnibus: The novel is formed from two shorter stories that were written for Analog Science Fiction; the Novellas "Emergence" and "Seeking".
  • One-Word Title:
    • The novel itself takes its name from Part 1, "Emergence".
    • Part 2 is a Novella named "Seeking".
    • The sequel, Tracking, does this as well.
  • Parental Abandonment: Of the involuntary variety. All of Candy's parents, birth and adoptive, are deceased. Also, Adam's parents died in the epidemic. Lisa's father died in an accident shortly thereafter.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Candy's first venture outside her shelter includes an attack by a pack of now-feral dogs. She kills three, the other three elect to leave very quickly.
  • Super-Senses: Hominems have greater sensory acuity than humans, including the ability to see into the infrared range. When Candy learns this, she comments that this explains why her friends couldn't see outside on warm nights without artificial light (she mentions that she understands why they had trouble on cold nights, due to lack of glow from faces and such), or her father's reaction when she, at about three, observed that a wall looked hot (they did find an electrical fault in that wall that could have started a fire if it hadn't been discovered in time).
  • Supreme Chef: Adam. Candy devotes significant time to describing Adam's kitchen prowess.
  • Terse Talker: Candy's narrative style. She considers standard English syntax inefficient.