68k Mentat

Probability Moon, by Nancy Kress

Rating: The first “recent” sci-fi I read that wasn’t horrible


Humanity has discovered stargates linking star systems, and humanoid inhabitants suggesting that the same race who created the stargates also seeded humanity across the galaxy. They recently discovered a planet whose inhabitants have a probability-induced trait which causes severe headaches when others behave outside of societal norms called “shared-reality”. They also discovered that one of the moons is actually another ancient artifact. A diplomatic team of scientists is sent as a cover for a military study of how to use the artifact, since Humanity is also at war with another group of interstellar beings (the Fallen) who refuse any contact. While trying to haul the artifact home to Earth, a Fallen ship attacks the Earth ship, destroying all three, as well as a sister-artifact on the planet which causes the inhabitants’ headaches. The humans convince the inhabitants that they belong to shared reality, cementing peaceful relations.


A young, naive anthropologist believes that by isolating the presumed-genes that cause shared-reality. This would remove Humanity’s differences that cause war, etc. The scientists on “World” are increasingly frustrated by the fact that their mission is secondary to the military mission, which doesn’t care about any non-military progress.