Probability Shadow by Mark Laporta

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I received this as a publisher request and I’m a couple weeks late on the review, sorry about that 🙁 Time got away from me and the reviews piled up a little quick.

It’s nice to get back to sci fi! I’ve only read a few so far this year since most of my requests are fantasy – bring on more sci fi 😀

The main character, Ambassador Ungent Draaf is the first ambassador to a species known as the Dralein. They’re a very interesting species because every 250 years or so they enter a cycle known as the Sceraun, where they “molt” their brains, essentially. When entering the Sceraun they revert back to a primal stage in their evolution, driven by only the most basic instincts with their upper cognitive functions on pause. They fear the light, live in tunnels, and it’s only at this time do they breed. He’s spent a lot of time researching them in hopes of making a good impression.

This is a world where humans were the first to invent intergalactic travel, they were the first to discover how to fold space onto itself, and able to cross distances much further than ever before. Since they were the first to do so, they made in-roads in over 12 galaxies and became the predominant species, and controlled most of the economy in those areas. The humans are also suffering from in fighting, an ancient Earth-religion as sprung up and taken hold with most of humanity, suffocating the other religions and belief systems. The human foothold is loosening, however, as in fighting continues and the emergence of another race that’s capable of galactic travel independent of the humans. The Grashardi race is throwing a major kink into the Terran Protectorate and their galactic domination plans.

I thought this was going to be a smaller scale story about the first ambassador to a new race, but it expands into much more. An ancient race thought gone long ago comes back, and wants to destroy all life in the galaxy. Somehow, Ungent has to get all the different fighting factions of sentient races to band together to fight off this new, and much more dangerous threat. To make things more complicated, there’s a plot to kill him, and the threats come from all angles, including people he thought were friends.

Ungent Draaf is a member of the Grashardi race, he’s a crustacean-like creature which is something I’ve never seen done before as far as a POV. He requires a special breathing apparatus, isn’t used to planets with high gravity, and has also recently lost his daughter. She was a journalist that was captured when poking her nose into places people didn’t want seen, and ended up captured and murdered. He’s a researcher and scholar at heart, and he uses logic and coldness to try and defer his emotions about his daughter. But, sometimes it becomes just too much, and he goes for five-course meals to drown his sorrows – as a result, he’s gotten quite rotund. The more I read about his character the more I liked him, he was a very different sort of character and a breath of fresh air.

There was a ton of world building in this, there are a bunch of different sentient races, and even some sub-species of humans that were specifically bred to deal with high radiation levels and varying air/water pressures. They’re extremely adaptable and in high demand for colonizing new planets. There are rat like races, bird like races, crustacean races etc, and they all have their own cultures that are considerably different from one another. There’s a symbiont race as well, one that’s able to take complete control of their host, but usually just hitch a ride.

Audience:

  • Sci fi
  • short fast books
  • non human pov
  • many unique non human races
  • galactic domination threat
  • lots of action

Ratings:

  • Plot: 12.5/15
  • Characters: 11.5/15
  • World Building: 13/15
  • Writing: 11/15
  • Pacing: 11.5/15
  • Originality: 13/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 8/10

Final Score:  80.5/100 – 4 stars – recommended! Amazon

 

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