||Like its main character,
this book seemed a little wayward, but it gave us a great view of the
solar system politics and humanity's expansion, which were nearly absent
in the previous two books.
There has been a transition of
characters over the course of this trilogy. Ann Sikorsky and her
colleagues were prominent in the Probability Moon, but had to share the
spotlight in Probability Sun with a ship-tied Marbet and her captive Faller, Thomas Capelo,
who figured out the physics of probability, and Kaufman, the military
man in charge of the second mission to World.
In this book, Ann and Gruber have what
is more like a cameo. The whole trip to World seems superfluous, as if
the readers expected to see the planet once again, so the author was
obliged to take us there. Essentially, the planet survived the wrecking
of their society by removing the Protector Artifact and their "shared
reality". Apparently it was a hard two years, but now the villages are
either joining together for protection or for a power base. The one
large enough to pose a threat gets conveniently blasted out of existence by the end
of the section.
The only important thing that happens
on World is the appearance of former porn star and former person of
Great Power: Magdelena. Her son approached restricted space while drunk
one day, and was blasted by a proton beam. His mother thinks he is still
alive, however, and because Capelo's voice appeared on the last
recording before the ship was destroyed, she thinks her son is with
They find Capelo, who was kidnapped, on
the warship near the space tunnel that opened into World's solar system.
It turns out the Protector Artifact is also on that ship. In a brilliant
strategy move, the Terran leader never moved the Artifact into Earth's solar system,
but made everybody, including the Fallers, think he had. There were two
reasons for this: one, because the first artifact blew up when it
entered the tunnel (and we still don't know why by the end of the
trilogy), and second, because he didn't want the artifact messing with
his brain, which it was shown to do in Probability Sun. Capelo was
supposed to figure out how much brain scrambling the Artifact made.
The whole plot, once again, makes a
great case for physics, even to the point of implying the military
chiefs didn't know the difference between theoretical and experimental
physics, by throwing Capelo and the artifact together.
Capelo's kidnapping is just an excuse,
however, to show us humanity's plight within the solar system. Capelo's
daughter Amanda sees him kidnapped, and sets off to escape the same fate
and to find him. I liked that she had been trained in science. She spent
a lot of time trying to gather facts, and to be unemotional about them,
even though her hormones often got the better of her.
Her first instinct was to find Marbet,
not knowing that Marbet had gone to World. So she gets in way over her
head, is rescued by a Catholic monk, and is ferried to Moon and then
Mars by a group that opposes the government. In fact, there is a large
group that opposes the current ruler, and Admiral Pierce actually
manages a military coup against the current leader, Stefanak. As Amanda
watches from within a monastery in Lowell City on Mars, the coup gives
the society of this trilogy some depth and background. Still, it was
frustrating to watch her being led around and accomplishing absolutely
nothing. I often wondered what her purpose was.
When the dome of Lowell City collapsed
after the coup, nobody seemed too traumatized, even though nearly the
entire population of that city was killed by the event. Amanda's purpose
was revealed after that: to fall in love. Konstantin was a man obsessed
with Capelo, and subsequently with Amanda. I certainly hope she can
change his ideas, as I find if hard to see her staying with him after
the initial infatuation dies off. He was stereotypical Greek, with the
masculinity complex and forwardness that accompanies it. Still, his
father was very influential, and that had some possibilities for
rescuing Amanda's father, especially since he was close with Pierce.
Pierce, it turns out, is crazy and
delusional. The former leader was simply delusional. But he knew that he
couldn't risk sending the Protector Artifact to the Faller home-system
because if the Fallers had one, too, and if both artifacts were set off
at setting Prime Thirteen, it would destroy the Universe. Pierce had no
such reservations -he didn't believe the physics, only the results.
Marbet, Kaufman and Capelo make their
way, daringly, to the solar system located one tunnel before the Faller
homeworld, and manage to communicate the problem, but they failed to do
so in time. So both artifacts were set off at setting thirteen -but the
universe didn't collapse. Instead, the tunnels dispersed that energy,
and closed forever, one by one, a very cool and unexpected result.
This is where Konstantin comes in,
because Pierce is out of the solar system for a short while
(conveniently). When Kaufman, Marbet and Capelo burst through the Sol
tunnel, they send messages out. Thus Amanda knows her father will very
likely be executed by Pierce. So Konstantin sends a message to Pierce,
in the guise of his father, who has influence over Pierce, telling him
of a plot against his life if he returns immediately. In this way, the
tunnel to the solar system closes before the leader returns.
Marbet, however, also sent a message,
conferring hero's status on Pierce, because that is the only way these
three could be kept alive. I think it is inevitable that the truth would
leak out; all it would take is a few well-placed slips of the tongue by
any of the three, after the chaos died down. But Kaufman doesn't see it
that way. He splits with Marbet by the end of the book.
As for Magdelena, she also dies, but
thinking she is giving revenge on the military for killing her son.
Somehow, Capelo convinces her that he can make them all suffer. We don't
hear it, and because things go wrong with the Fallers, we never find
out! That is also frustrating.
What I really liked about this book was
the science of Probability. The author has made it into a force of
nature, on par with gravity. The theory is sprinkled throughout the
book, as it was developed in the last one, and it is made so probable
and believable. I am very impressed by that. The theory brings the book
up a notch, and overcomes some of its weaknesses, such as the aimless
plot, the fourteen year old girl and her crush, and some heavy
As the cap to a trilogy, it did its job
tying things up. But the universe this story is set in is in chaos, as a
new government is set up, and topples again, and the solar system is
isolated once more. It is said that humanity should have cleaned up its
act before heading into the stars provided by the tunnels. Now, they get
their chance, by force. Who knows, maybe the tunnels are set to reopen
after a certain amount of time.
The package of this trilogy is left very open-ended, as it must, and I
like that. People have to live with their lives, now, and their actions.
We don't get to see it, but hopefully something good will come of the