The Science fiction genre is speculative fiction that deals with the advancements of technology. There are two categories for the genre which consist of hardcore science fiction which is more into the technologic advancements in the story while softcore genre deals with social and psychological aspects of the story. Subcategories include cyberpunk, time travel, alternate history, military science fiction, superhuman, apocalyptic, space opera, space western, social science fiction, and more. Nancy Kress has written The Golden Grove (1984), The White Pipes (1985), Maximum Light (1997), Oaths and Miracles (1996), Stinger (1998) and other works.
Nancy Kress’s Probability Moon (2000) delves into the culture shock the outsiders and native citizens experience when their worlds collide. Language barriers are dwarfed when compared to the customs of the Worlders with the Terrans through their laws, beliefs, technological advancements, and politics. The text mentions shared reality, “make for enormously fast mobilization. Although it also made for pretty slow inventiveness. The culture lacked truly maverick thinkers,” which conveys a danger of conformity over freedom of individualism (96).
The story begins with Enli Pek Brimmindin, a young Worlder girl who’s working off a sentence for violating the law of shared reality to set herself and her deceased brother, Tabor, free. The institute of World, Reality and Atonement would provide pills to help suppress the headaches for the telekinetic-esque Worlder while she’d be assigned to observe the Terrans who visit World and stay in Voratur’s household. Enli would have to report to Pek Nagredil on the Terran’s demeanor to determine if they’re real, if they had souls.
The human’s who are to visit the preindustrialize planet, World are briefed on their expedition aboard the Solar Alliance Council Ship: Zeus. The team would be dropped off on World while the Zeus would remain in space observing the local system and remain on watch for the warring Fallers who disturb the peace. Syree Johnson, a retired army vet with Faller combat experience is commissioned for the Zeus for her knowledge of the space tunnels. The crew would venture through an ancient tunnel portal and discover that it could be destructive to materials and life forms of a specific atomic level.
Meanwhile, on the World village, Gofkit Rabloe, the expedition team interacts with inhabitants and learn about their culture, botany, flower ceremonies, commerce and their beliefs. Enli stays close by for reconnaissance and reports back with little information which leads to reprimand. After a request, Enli would learn the Terran language under Ann Pek Sikorski tutelage, which she utilizes to listen on the team’s discussions.
Later on Ann’s group would gain knowledge that Tas, one of the World’s seven moons was manufactured and poses a threat to World. The team try to warn the Worlders that they’re in danger and need to take refuge as their moon could release harmful rays should it be destroyed in order to prevent it from falling to the Fallers. The priest questioned the team and learn that the information they obtained was withheld which leads them to be set to death as they’re not real. The anthropologist flee with Enli to the forbidden Neury Mountain.
While Ann’s group take cover in the mountain, the Zeus moves the artificial moon toward the space tunnel but are confronted by the Faller’s warship. The Zeus engages with the Fallers for control as the stakes are raised for the Solar Alliance. Ultimately, they’re able to outmaneuver the warship but at the cost of Tas. Breaking from the group in Neury, Enli would be lead by David Pek Allen to the village to warn the people of the danger as messengers of “The First Flower.” Knowledge of the danger spreads all over and the Worlders take shelter, barring items that may be affected by the waves of the destroyed Tas.
After the climatic space battle with the Fallers, Ann’s group would receive a successful transmission from the flyer Gnat battleship, Hachiya Solar Alliance Defense base and learn of the Zeus’s fate and their retrieval status. Three years after the Tas event, Enli would regain her share reality and commemorate David Pek Allen’s death, walking among her fellow Worlders.
With the meeting between Enli and Pek Nagredil, the high priest the gives a deeper look at the cultural belief of the Worlders. Observing a fatigued Enli, Nagredil said, “The job of informant is supposed to allow the unreal to earn back their souls by service to shared reality. It is not supposed to destroy the soul itself,” which portrays how cultures can view diversity as a threat whether through adoption of likeness or method of thinking which doesn’t conform to the establishment (143).
Through the space conflict with the Zeus and the Fallers warship space exploration is presented in Probability Moon. The Terran ship the Zeus is comparable to the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) seen in Star Trek (1966). The crew of the Zeus battles the Fallers just as the USS Enterprise engages with The Klingons. The Worlder’s way of wishing well for another through inclusion of flowers in the dialogue is comparable to Spock’s own Vulcan salute.
Probability Moon is a combination of hardcore and softcore science fiction with a deep look at the social aspect of the Worlder’s customs that will leave readers curious. The conflict with the Fallers in space will have a suspenseful tension that will be shattered after an explosive confrontation that’ll shock the foundation of World. Readers will be transported to a new world that is full of peril and mystery when they embark on this space venture.