Gwyn's Reviews > Probability Moon

Probability Moon by Nancy Kress
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Jun 28, 2010

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bookshelves: science-fiction
Read on June 28, 2010

Probability Moon is a a decent hard sci-fi book that didn't quite live up to its potential. Overall, it is an enjoyable book with a plot that keeps you reading and a pretty interesting alien culture. Unfortunately, it never quite makes the jump from okay/good to good/great. It's further hampered by a few important problems, one of which is the characters.

The story is told through four narrators: two researchers, one ex-military officer, and one native. It would have been better told through three, both to tighten the narrative focus and to remove the incredibly annoying David Allen. In fact, Allen is so annoying that he is almost a dealbreaker, since he just made me want to put the book down and leave it down. When he finally goes insane its actually a relief. Most of the other characters are fine, however, except for the native Enli, who is probably the closest we have to a true main character. She is just inconsistent enough to bother, though not inconsistent enough to frustrate: sometimes cowardly and timid, other times professional and optimistic.

Enli's species is another source of difficulty for this book. On a planet so lush and full of flowers, it is perhaps logical that the people living there should honor flowers and make them a part of everyday life. Unfortunately, every part of everyday life is filled with flowers, from flower altars to exchanging flowers when entering houses to speaking of a person's health in terms of the soil he or she grows in. The flower-obsession eventually reaches the point of disbelief. The shared-reality the Worlders possess also struggles with believability. At first quite fascinating, the author waffles on what it actually is. Sometimes it is confined to what an individual knows--something cannot enter the shared reality of a group until they are informed of it--while at other times is seems more like telepathy--if one person knows it, everyone knows it. The rules of how it functions and what does or does not violate shared reality also vary during the course of the story.

The book's greatest strength is its plot, which does a pretty good job of moving forward and keeping up the suspense: what is the moon, really? How are the radioactive mountains related to it? What motivates the Fallers? The desire to answer these questions is what will make the reader pick up the second book in the trilogy--Probability Sun. If you are a fan of hard science fiction and enjoy exploring alien cultures, give this book a try.
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06/28/2010 page 144
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message 1: by Ben (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ben Babcock Nice review. I had the same reaction to the characters, especially to Allen! Probably my least favourite part of the book.

I feel like Kress had the entire idea of "shared reality" and how it works very well mapped out in her mind but has somehow failed to convey it as coherently as she could in the writing. The relationship between shared reality and Orbital Object #7 is cool, and I was hoping for an epilogue that would tie up loose ends and give a better summary of what had happened.

I took a peak at your review of Probability Sun and see that it's much of the same, which means I should probably enjoy it when I get around to reading it.


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