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Probability Moon (The Probability Trilogy) Hardcover – July 7, 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Probability Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Probability Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (July 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312874065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312874063
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Probability Moon initially seemed something like an old style Ursula LeGuin novel, studying an intriguing (and technologically somewhat primitive) semi-alien culture within a larger context (in this case, a major interstellar war). And that's pretty much what it was, except the larger context got somewhat short changed, two of the four point of view characters were unlikeable and some of the ideas and logic struck me as pretty fuzzy. The anthropology and details of the alien culture are the strongest elements of the book (or so it seemed to a non-expert); some of the other scientific/logic issues aren't handled as well. The plot has some interesting ironies and unexpected outcomes.
There aren't any out and out villains or heroes in the book, everything tends toward shades of gray. I did find the chief anthropologist pretty admirable throughout, though not always effective, and his Iranian background gave him some interesting/useful insights in a couple of areas. Recommended if you like books about alien cultures.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not sure why some reviewers wrote so negatively, I think this is a very good book. It has a good and well developed story line that doesn't follow the Science Fiction receipe for the puny hero who defeats the omnipotent/all powerful villian by the virtue of his/her humanity and a lot of luck.
Instead, there are a handful of everyday Joes, each with different strengths and weaknesses, that are basically in over their heads and the ultimate result is... well... failure, but not defeat! That is what is so great about the story! We can't win all the battles, but we never give up the fight! Maybe not the most romantic storyline, but Kress makes it work. I am alway looking for a good SF story that breaks the mold and Kress delivered.
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Format: Hardcover
I am glad that I bought this book and read it before reading the other reviews here on Amazon.com. I found both this and Probability Sun to be very engaging volumes. To me, they were more readable than the critically acclaimed Beggars series, which I also enjoyed. Perhaps this is a result of Ms. Kress venturing away from her scientific specialty, genetics, and into a field where she is less knowledgeable, physics.
The character development is certainly the strongest feature of the book. Enli, an outcast in her own civilization, makes an ideal bridge between human and Worlder cultures. The concept of shared reality is well explored and thought-provoking.
The writing is strong throughout and pulls the reader from start to finish.
If you were tempted to read this book until you read the reviews here, ignore them and read it anyway. I predict that you will not be disappointed. While some of the objections in the reviews here are valid, this book is still a strong effort by a Hugo and Nebula award winner, and it shows.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Kress has created a unique alien culture, which shares a unanimous moral sense of right, wrong, and reality. Any divergent thoughts are punished by a blinding headpain, and individuals who act contrary to the "shared reality" are ostracized. Ms. Kress chose to juxtapose this storyline with a parallel plot about a mysterious artifact from another alien species, and throw in a third alien enemy to boot. The elements of these two story lines just don't work together. Dr. Bazargan is the most interesting and realistic character in the human anthropological team. David Allen is repugnant, and meant to be, but his one-sidedness makes him merely a plot device. The totally unlikely presence of two human infants on the team provides the occasion for a monstrous cruelty, and as such, is a cheap shot at our emotions. I wish Ms. Kress had thrown out this plot outline and explored her idea in a different way.
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Format: Hardcover
Nancy Kress' new novel is _Probability Moon_. It's set in the same milieu as her award winning story "The Flowers of Aulit Prison": a planet, called World, with humanoid inhabitants. These people differ from Earth humans in one very important way: they experience something called "shared reality". If their fellows do not perceive the truth of something the same as they do, they feel intense physical pain, "headpain". This results in great cultural homogeneity, and a certain apparently lessening of ingenuity, but also in apparently greater empathy, and in a lack of war. However, those who fail to show this empathy are called unreal. If they are children, they are put to death. If they have already been proven "real" and attain adulthood, then commit an "unreal" act, they might get a chance to atone over a period of time, and be declared real again, but while they are unreal, they are generally shunned.
A quasi-military expedition has been sent to World to investigate a strange artifact, the Moon of the title. As cover, a group of 4 anthropologists, plus, rather unbelievably, two very young twin children, has been sent to the planet, and will be living among the people of World, investigating them, while the people of World try to reach a "shared reality" consensus as to the reality of humans. The lead native character is Enli Pek Brimmidin, who is unreal as a result of a crime she shared with her beloved brother. As part of her atonement, she is given a job as a spy on the Earth people. There are four Earth scientists, of whom the leader, Dr. Bazargan, an aging Iranian, and the youngest, David Allen, who is clinically insane, are viewpoint characters.
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