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    PROBABILITY SUN by Nancy Kress

    TOR, July 2001

    The human race is losing a war to an alien species, the Fallers that attacks without warning, never communicates with humans, and has now discovered a secret shield that protects their warships from any human weapon. Unless they can do something, the human race is doomed.

    A small group of human scientists return to The World where an another alien race lives in peace in the midst of shared reality. Shared reality enforces itself, causing terrible pain to any who violate it, yet the scientists suspect that it is a result of an alien artifact--an artifact that just might have powers similar to those of the Fallers' secret weapon.

    The scientists face terrible difficulties amongst themselves. If they take the artifact, they may be responsible for the complete destruction of a wonderful civilization, yet if they fail to do so, humanity as a whole will be eliminated. The choice seems obvious, yet cruel.

    Author Nancy Kress has created a compelling science fiction reality, spicing it up with believable science--the physics appears to be a fairly faithful and well written description of modern string theory and quantum physics. The World, with its flower based culture and shared reality are powerful concepts.

    PROBABILITY SUN falls short of its potential in two areas. First, the combination of a scientific investigation to The World and the interrogation of the first captured Fallen is simply unbelievable. No military would risk two such potentially important and unique targets in the same ship. Second, Kress doesn't go the distance in developing her characters. Scientist Tom Capelo is unsympathetic and flat with his huge rage against the Fallen and overprotectiveness over his children. Sensitive Marbet is too perfect. Colonel Kaufman, the primary protagonist, simply does not achieve enough character arc to make his story compelling.

    Although PROBABILITY SUN is flawed, it is a well written account of a fascinating world.

    Two Stars

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