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THRESHOLD Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1985
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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David, if you are reading this review, I would like to suggest that you call your publisher right away and get this baby made into an e-book edition (Kindle or whatever). Hopefully you held on to some rights when you made the book-deal on this one -- If not, then I'll bet you know some lawyers . . . . *
*David R. Palmer's bio says he worked as a court stenographer.
THRESHOLD never did get as much buzz as EMERGENCE but, man, it's a hell of a fun read anyway. Only Earthman Peter Cory can save the universe! Or so he's told by a cute extra-terrestrial and her talking feline companion (respectively, Megonthalyä or "Meg" and Memphus) - both of whom one day out of the blue crash landed on Cory's vacation island. "Unless you join us... perhaps even if you do - the galaxy is doomed...!" laments the winsome Meg. It all boggles Peter's mind but, it turns out, he is the penultimate product of an alien breeding program implemented nine thousand years ago, with Peter's particular bloodline having been bred primarily for concentrated survival traits. An insatiable presence the size of the Andromeda Galaxy is making its way towards the Milky Way and this unstoppable thing devours entire universes... With anyone or anything else, the odds for success in countering this cosmic entity plummet to .0038%. With Peter Cory, the odds shift to less than 50% (49.7236% to be exact). Which are still horrifying odds.
And with that, David R. Palmer introduces an epic adventure, told on a grand scale. You want to talk about normal characters suddenly developing extraordinary abilities, Peter Cory goes thru an absolutely stunning power boost - and what sells it to us readers is that the author factors in the logical scientific and - to be more specific - physiological fallout to Cory's newfound skill sets, and this makes it seem all the more believable. Peter first spreads his wings - figuratively and in fact - on Earth as he, Meg, and Memphus undertake a mission behind enemy lines. But then the story shifts to Meg's homeworld Isis, a vast and murderous planet inhabited by colossal, insanely nightmarish predators. Isis would prove to be the ultimate testing ground for Peter's skills, resourcefulness, and grit.
It looks like those expecting further entries in the To Halt Armageddon "trilogy" would instead have to settle for THRESHOLD being a stand-alone novel. It's been well over two decades now, and not a sequel in sight. This really sucks as I've re-read this book many times down the years and the frustration for a follow-up hasn't diminished one bit. Peter and Meg are really great characters and I'm dying to know what happens to them next. And I even got invested in secondary characters like Memphus, Rebecca Two-Knives the steely, grandmotherly head of Peter's private security, and Brunhilde the savage yet endearing killer voor'flon. This story is chronicled in first person narrative by Peter himself and we really get exposed to Peter's stream of consciousness musings and to his sense of humor and his never-give-up philosophy. The writer took a risk that readers may have gotten turned off by the fact that Peter, as the book starts out, is this young, obnoxious, self-made multi-billionaire and a total winner, except that Palmer imbues him with a down-to-earth quality, this nicely balancing out that trace of smugness in Peter (okay, it's more than a trace; Peter is one cocky dude). But it makes sense that Peter is so successful at everything, right? He is, after all, the penultimate evolution to millennia-long alien genetic manipulation. And then Palmer right away follows up Peter's credentials with some outrageous, absolutely pulse-pounding exploits. Peter Cory is very promptly put thru the fire.
On an interesting and amusing note, as mentioned above, Peter actually isn't the final product. He's the penultimate product. He was supposed to have been matched up with his opposite equal whose bloodline had been engineered for intelligence. But a clerical snafu had effed up the genetic master plan and while Peter himself is a mature adult, the girl he was destined to end up with is currently only six years old. Thank goodness Meg is sexy as hell.
You talk about books featuring ordinary guys who suddenly exhibit extraordinary skills and, off the top of my skull, I'll bring up David Brin's THE PRACTICE EFFECT, Alan Dean Foster's THE I INSIDE, Orson Scott Card's TREASON, and Warren C. Norwood's TRUE JAGUAR. I'll even mention C.S Friedman's THE MADNESS SEASON, even though the main character there had always been out of the ordinary. THRESHOLD, with its rip-roaring sci-fi elements, its go-for-broke sense of adventure, and its epic sweep, may be the most audacious of this bunch, and my feeling is that this would be an absolutely classic series if only David R. Palmer would someday finish the story.
Threshold is the setup book. Peter Cory thought he held the world in his hands due to his hard work and diligence; but, he learns from a beautiful woman, who is actually from a very old alien race that has been guiding him to a "destiny" they have determined. And this truth makes him a very wanted man. On the run, he learns the true nature of his abilities - both mentally and physically.
And that is where it ends as the author has never finished the story. As I understand it, the next book was shelved by the publisher; and that was that.
So...Stop, don't read this book; it will go nowhere.
A Guide to my Book Rating System:
1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.
PS: His books are impossible to find copies of here in Australia, I had to get my copy of Threshold over the net from the US. (Total cost A$17.40)including postal charges
Still haven't got a copy of Emergence, Have to read mum's copy.