Written 40 or 50 years ago - a virus kills off all in the world except genius IQ people - two characters enter the picture: one is a teenage boy who is a world class pianist; the other is a girl of similar age who is in a coma for a few weeks. They leave and try to get to the West Coast, I think, and invent a vehicle that can ride railroad rails. That's all I can remember. It was excellent. The boy is full of real groaner puns.

The author was introduced as the next Heinlein (along with a lot of others, I suppose). I don't know anything more - if he became famous, died young - just dunno.

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    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 22:49
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    "Invent a vehicle that can ride railroad rails"? Do you mean like a train? Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 0:52
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    Doesn't quite fit, but Emergence by David R. Palmer?
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 4:38
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    Actually, it fits perfectly with Emergence. The boy converted the van the girl had driven on her search to be able to ride the rails, similarly to the rail trucks that railroad crews have used for many years. The book is only about 30 years old, though.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:48
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/183906/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:24

1 Answer 1


This sounds very much like Emergence (1984) by David Palmer. Blurb from Goodreads:

Candidia Maria Smith-Foster, an eleven-year-old girl, is unaware that she's a Homo post hominem, mankind's next evolutionary step.

With international relations rapidly deteriorating, Candy's father, publicly a small-town pathologist but secretly a government biowarfare expert, is called to Washington. Candy remains at home.

The following day a worldwide attack, featuring a bionuclear plague, wipes out virtually all of humanity (i.e., Homo sapiens). With her pet bird Terry, she survives the attack in the shelter beneath their house. Emerging three months later, she learns of her genetic heritage and sets off to search for others of her kind.

The teenage boy in the book is called Adam and is an accomplished pianist, cook, driver and mechanic etc.

"Emergence" book cover, line character on a road

  • Why are those two works similar? Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 6:12
  • I was getting there. Hit post by mistake.
    – user22225
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 6:19
  • That happens :) Might want to add a link, if you find one - ISFDB might be a good bet. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 6:35
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    This was my thought too. As I recall, the boy doesn't really pun much, but he has a habit of reversing words - like he says he "remantled" something he'd previously dismantled.
    – moopet
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 7:31
  • I recall that the boy and girl meet when he hits her with a race car. She spends a lot of time recovering, which might be the poster's memory of her being in a coma.
    – LAK
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 21:50

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