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I remember a book from about 25-30 years ago. The main character was a young girl in possibly her early teens. She was in a fall-out bunker of some kind alone, but had learned a lot about survival and science from her father.

When she leaves the bunker, she initially thinks she is alone, but discovers others are still alive on Earth. During her journey to meet up with someone, she ends up in space - where I remember specifically the discussion of orbital mechanics, and needing to "slow down" to "catch up" (something I later had fun with in Kerbal Space Program).

Can someone identify this book for me? I'd love to re-read it.

  • Could it be the science fiction novel Dawn, published in 1987 by Octavia Butler? The plot: "In Dawn, protagonist Lilith Iyapo finds herself in a [alien] spaceship after surviving a nuclear apocalypse that destroys Earth." But doesn't quite match your description. – RobertF Jul 25 at 19:14
  • @RobertF thanks for the suggestion, but it's definitely not that. – Steve Jul 25 at 20:37
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    possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/183906/… – Otis Jul 26 at 1:25
  • And I just discovered this will soon be a TV series... – Steve Jul 30 at 1:45
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I’d be pretty sure that’s Emergence by David Palmer, first published (in one volume) in 1984. There’s a sequel, Tracking, written decades later.

The following day a worldwide attack, featuring a bionuclear plague, wipes out virtually all of humanity (i.e., Homo sapiens). With pet bird Terry, a Hyacinthine macaw, her "lifelong retarded, adopted twin brother," who tends to "parrot" Candy's words even before she speaks, 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.

First the hunt turns up "Adam", a cheeky, irrepressibly punning, multitalented 13-year-old boy, who immediately sets out to win Candy's heart; next, Rollo Jones, a middle-aged physician with a broad history of survival-in-the-wilds experience ranging from a stint in the Peace Corps to mountain climbing; and finally, Kim Melon, an early-20s mom whose background is in computer engineering with Lisa, her six-year-old daughter. Rollo reveals himself as a sociopath, whom Candy is forced to kill defending Terry and herself. Adam, Kim, and Lisa join Candy's quest for the AA community. As part of the search, Adam reveals that he is an ultralight aircraft pilot. Later he teaches Candy to fly.

Thereafter, an ultralight engine failure separates Candy from the others. After getting it running again, she spots a contrail, which leads her to Vandenberg Space Shuttle Launch Complex, where Teacher and the AAs are laboring to preflight a shuttle, renamed the Nathan Hale. They have identified those who wiped out mankind, the Bratstvo, translated as the "Brotherhood", a cabal of H. sapiens, working from inside the Russian military to destroy all H. post hominems. As insurance, they have placed a doomsday device in geosynchronous orbit, a Strontium-90 bomb whose fallout will render Earth uninhabitable for 200 years.

  • Wow, that certainty sounds like the story, but I don't remember so many other characters. This was 20-25 years ago, though. I'll check it out and accept this if is. – Steve Jul 25 at 19:07
  • Yeah, more things from that linked Wiki page are activating brain cells in a faint manner. I'm pretty sure this is it now. And there is a sequel! :) Thank you. – Steve Jul 25 at 19:09
  • Excellent book. Highly recommended. One thing I like is that it is written in a style that is very terse. – Paul TIKI Jul 25 at 19:18
  • I have a feeling this book had some influence on my later life... – Steve Jul 25 at 20:37
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    If the answer is correct you can accept it by clicking the check mark next to the answer. – NJohnny Jul 26 at 18:45

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