Earth is an environmental disaster area when humanity gains new hope: a star gate is discovered in the solar system, built by a long-gone alien race. Earth establishes extrasolar colonies and discovers alien races--including the warlike Fallers, the only spacefaring race besides humans. Mysterious, uncommunicative, and relentlessly bent on humanity's extinction, the Fallers have mastered the star gates, and are closing in on earth.
Dr. Bazargan commands the scientific team sent to a newly discovered world to study its humanoid natives: beings who literally perceive only one reality. To lie is to be unreal--and condemned to death. The humans must flee for their lives across the unknown planet when they and the aliens learn the scientific mission is a lie. It's the cover for a secret military exploration of the moon Tas, which is another artifact of the gate-makers: a superweapon capable of annihilating all life in a star system, and already known to the Fallers.
Nancy Kress has won the Hugo, the Sturgeon, and three Nebula Awards. She is justly acclaimed as a literary SF writer, but receives little acknowledgement that her work is hard SF. Probability Moon should change this, winning her many new readers while pleasing her fans. It's a rare and desirable hybrid: a literary, military, hard-SF novel. Set in the same world as her Nebula- and Sturgeon-winning novelette, "Flowers of Aulit Prison," Probability Moon is the first book of a trilogy, but it has a self-contained story line. The sequel, Probability Sun, will appear in 2001, and the concluding book will be The Fabric of Space. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Best known for novels that carefully extrapolate near-future medical and social trends, Kress (Stinger) here tells a tale of interplanetary adventure centered in anthropology and physics. Humanity has begun to explore the stars using "space tunnels" created by an unknown alien race. Life turns out to be common on other planets, but surprisingly, most of it is related to us, the products of an experiment carried out by the race that built the tunnels. Only one truly alien species, the Fallers, has been discovered, and they are implacably hostile to humanity. As the novel opens, Earth has sent a starship to a planet whose inhabitants call it World. The expedition's ostensible purpose is anthropological, to study the natives' unique psychic "shared reality," a complex net of mutual understandings that makes lying and large-scale violence virtually impossible. In actuality, however, the expedition has a darker purpose. Earth's military forces have discovered that one of World's moons is an artifact apparently left by the creators of the tunnels, and they think it may be a powerful weapon to use against the Fallers. As the military probe the artifact, the anthropologists on the planet begin to realize the trouble they'll be in if they can't convince the usually peaceful natives that both groups share the same reality. Kress does a good job of working out the ramifications of her shared-reality society, but her human characters lack the depth of those in her best work, the Beggars trilogy; her military figures in particular are thinly drawn. And the physics, although interesting, is introduced in large, sometimes indigestible chunks that slow the plot to a crawl. This is solid SF, but Kress has written better. (July)
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