Looking for a novel I read at least 25 years ago, and possibly not new at the time. I can recall some themes and specific scenes, but no names.

Near future setting, where something (nuclear war?) has taken place and pushed most communities back to a pastoral setting.

First scene I recall has a child considered to lack intelligence. He's got multiple unrelated books open and is flipping between them. His village is attacked and he builds a weapon that disintegrates them. It's concluded that he 'thinks in parallel'.

Slight time jump and a hunter is ambushed in the woods. He jumps a huge distance horizontally then vertically, and can run above normal human speeds. He is recruited to return to a city, where me meets other mutants. There is something about them being arrested, and living on 'the hill'. The genius mutant is also in the city, living on 'the mountain' where he occasionally descends to give a new technology to the non-mutant population.

The mutants are going to crew a space mission, I think to Mars. Cannot recall the reason, but they are in a race with another nation to achieve this.

Other features:

Power beams - energy from a central source is sent wirelessly elsewhere, including the shoulders of their space suits.

Protagonists are captured and the athletic one is nominated to escape as he will be able to run further on limited oxygen than anyone else.

A strong mutant - possibly Russian? - points out their limitations "I am like horse strong, but not like tractor strong."

Read in English, but no idea of author. Sound familiar to anyone?

1 Answer 1


Yes, this looks like Poul Anderson's "Chain of Logic". The child, Alaric,

read omnivorously, and at tremendous speed if he wasn't just idly turning pages. He tinkered with apparatus Wayne had salvaged from the abandoned college labs, though there seemed to be no particular purpose in his actions.

And he builds a device to disintegrate the gangmen:

The boy was coming down the street, walking slowly and carrying an object, a fantastic wire-tangled grotesquerie of electronic surrealism, thrown together in the wildest haste and with no recognizable design. [...] The gang-man squeezed the trigger on his rifle but never completed the motion. He was dead before that. [...] Before the fragments had fallen, something had swept the outer edges of the square, and where the guards had stood were steam-clouded heaps of charred bone and shredded flesh.

And looking for that title on Google I stumbled upon this answer. So, I believe the book you read was Twilight World.

  • 1
    @Michael I had come to the same conclusion. In the first story there is no space travel, but I remember reading about it.
    – LSerni
    Nov 16, 2020 at 14:43

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