I was perusing http://best-sci-fi-books.com/ a couple of days ago. Just looking for a recommendation for something to read. A story called Emergence caught my eye. It's by David R. Palmer, (no not the Pink Floyd David Palmer), an author I'd never heard of.
It's the tale of an 11-year-old girl, who happens to be a hyper-genius, who's living through Armageddon (OK you're hooked now).
It's told, mostly, in the first person by way of her journal, which is written in shorthand. The young Candida has her own views on the English language.
English 60 percent flab, null symbols, waste. Suspect massive inefficiency stems from subconsciously recognized need to stall, give inferior intellects chance to collect thoughts into semblance of coherence (usually without success), and to show off (my twelve-dollar-word can lick your ten-dollar-word). Will not adhere to precedent; makes little sense to write shorthand, then cancel advantage by employment of rambling academese.
Yes, about 85% of the narrative is written as though it is in shorthand.
This does some amazing things. To say this story flies along would be an understatement. It's friggin supersonic in it's pace. Surprisingly it takes almost no time to get comfortable with it.
The contrast between the girl's intellect and her actual age allows for pithy quotes that make you laugh-out-loud at times, especially when talking about her "twin" brother (who happens to be a Macaw).
Terry is retarded, adoptive twin brother. Saw light of day virtually same moment I emerged — or would have, had opened eyes. Early on showed more promise than I: Walked at nine weeks, first words at three months, could fly at 14 weeks. Achieved fairly complex phrases by six months but never managed complete sentences. Peaked early but low.
Not fair description. Actually Terry is brilliant — for macaw. Also beautiful. Hyacinthine Macaw, known to lowbrows as Hyacinth, pseudointellectuals as anodorhynchus hyacinthinus — terrible thing to say about sweet baby bird. Full name Terry D. Foster (initial stands for Dactyll). Length perhaps 36 inches (half of which is tail feathers); basic color rich, glowing, hyacinth blue (positively electric in sunlight), with bright yellow eye patches like clown, black feet and bill. Features permanently arranged in jolly Alfred E. Neuman, village-idiot smile. Diet is anything within reach, but ideally consists of properly mixed seeds, assorted fruits, nuts, sprinkling of meat, etc.
Hobbies include getting head and neck scratched (serious business, this), art of conversation, destruction of world. Talent for latter avocation truly awe-inspiring: 1500 pounds pressure available at business end of huge, hooked beak. Firmly believe if left Terry with four-inch cube of solid tungsten carbide, would return in two hours to find equivalent mass of metal dust, undimmed enthusiasm.
It's an interesting narrative style that I'd swear wouldn't work, but it does spectacularly in this case.