Threshold (Palmer novel)

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Author David R. Palmer
Country United States
Language English
Series To Halt Armageddon
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Bantam Spectra
Publication date
December 1985
Media type Print (Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-553-24878-2 (first edition, paperback)
OCLC 13000483
Preceded by Emergence

Threshold is a science fiction novel written by David R. Palmer and published by Bantam Spectra in December 1985. It was his second book published, following Emergence, and was intended to be the first book of the To Halt Armageddon trilogy.[1]

Plot introduction[edit]

Threshold is a space opera novel, involving interstellar intrigue, mysteriously alluring space aliens, and a hero who is larger than life. Its protagonist, the penultimate issue of millennia long alien breeding program: Peter Cory, billionaire, hard driving adventurer, and unrequited rescuer of damsels. (Due to a "clerical" error in the program, his future wife was born late and is now only a child, but there is no time to wait.) One of the aliens, a "wWyh'j" (witch) named Megonthalyä (Meg) and her obese feline familiar (Memphus) come to Earth to enlist Peter's help.

Plot summary[edit]

Due to what they call a 'racial mental block' a quasi-immortal race called the Isi are unable to prevent a galactic catastrophe. The Isi think humanity (specifically Peter) will help them overcome this hurdle, hence the book's opening line "Peter, we are losing Armageddon..." Unless he joins forces with them "... the galaxy is doomed...!"

While Peter (and the reader) is understandably skeptical, the talking cat, as well as a crash course in telepathy rapidly convince him of Meg's sincerity. Soon he is using his uniquely human perspective to unveil new applications of ancient Isi mental powers, and develops some startling new abilities. Armed with complete control of his cellular structure (which allows for slow but complete cellular metamorphosis), and a "gnNäáq" (knack) which allows the mental manipulation of electrical energy, Peter and Meg travel to Meg's home planet of Isis where he will be taught the "mMj'q" (Magic) necessary to help save the galaxy from its impending destruction.

Writing in what can only be described in a "Heinlein-esque" style, Palmer deliberately plays with sci-fi conventions. For example he implies that common terms such as witch, familiar, and magic actually stem from alien words. He also turns several clichés on their ear, giving the reader a trip through the protagonist's ego as he travels across a decidedly hostile planet.[citation needed]

Literary significance & criticism[edit]

Touted as the first book in a trilogy,[1] subsequent novels have yet to be published, although the author has made it clear that the second book is indeed written. In 1990, Palmer pointed out that when his personal finances permitted taking time to survive off of slim publishorial advances, he would return to writing.[2]


  1. ^ a b Palmer, David R. (1990) [1984]. Emergence (Signature Special Edition ed.). Bantam Spectra. p. 297. ISBN 0-553-25519-3. "Threshold (Book I of the To Halt Armageddon trilogy)" 
  2. ^ Palmer, David R. (1990) [1984]. Emergence (Signature Special Edition ed.). Bantam Spectra. p. 297. ISBN 0-553-25519-3. "At that point I will again quit reporting and devote all my time to writing."