15 June 2010

Nancy Kress - Probability Moon

  • Author: Nancy Kress
  • Title: Probability Moon
  • Publisher: Tor 2000
  • ISBN: 9780312874063
OK, so humans have found these alien artifacts called Space Tunnels. This has lead to humans finding a whole bunch of inhabited planets around the galaxy, and the aliens are all basically human, down to almost identical genetic information. It appears that humanish hominids have been seeded around the place in the distant past, but Earth humans (Terran's) are the most advanced. A team of Terran's is on a planet called World getting to know the natives, but there seems to be some kind of weird secret military thing going on behind them. The Terran military is in fact using the study as cover for an investigation of a fake moon that turns out to be some kind of ancient alien artifact that, when activated, makes all elements with a periodic table number over 75 turn radioactive. Which would be useful to have, since the Terran's also came across an Alien species called the Fallers, who are NOTHING like humans, won't communicate, and seem to have decided that they've seen the humans, and they have to go.

I know, it's really trite. It's disappointing actually, because I absolutely loved Beggars Banquet, and was expecting big things from the Probability series. What I got was a fairly standard alien planet with species that seems primitive but actually possesses incredible magic/secret science mission to figure out the alien artifact/evil aliens at war with us peaceful humans/useless character makes good in the end kind of story. It's incredibly ordinary. I have read this same story so many times, it's ridiculous. In fact, even Alan Dean Foster has done a version (The Howling Stones). And I hate ADF on principle for media tie in novels, but I have to say that his version was a lot more interesting to read.

I am not in a rush to read the other books in this series now. I will eventually, probably, but it just doesn't excite me enough to make me rush to get the next one. There is nothing TECHNICALLY wrong with the novel, the writing is of the usual high standard, the pacing is fine, the characterisations are fine. It's just that it has been done to death. I already knew how it was going to come out by the end of the fourth chapter. I knew how each character was going to respond to their situation before the situation was fully described. I knew in the first chapter that the annoying git was going to save the day at the end. I knew that the alien girl was going to loose her fear of the humans, realise that they were actually good people and end up helping them to overcome cultural difficulties.

Not a bad book.  Not a bad story. Kress is a great writer. I didn't enjoy it. It was the reading equivalent of a film remake of a 1960's TV show, a la the Brady Bunch Movie, Bewitch: The Movie, The A-Team movie. I don't have the time to waste on it.