Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: Probability Angels Joseph Devon

Probability Angels Joseph Devon
275 pp pb

available at Amazon here

I was all set to dismiss Joseph Devon's Probability Angels as one of those quasi made up fringe science books that spout nonsense theory and with this one I jokingly said to myself more like improbability is more likely. Because what I thought I had was basically ghosts and angels and demons fighting it out with humanity in the middle. But in truth what I really had was just Devon's canvas with some primer coat. When he started to lay on another layer and highlights I started to see that I had something much more complex. Maybe a mirror of our world or our world with the blinders off.... Hard to pin down but intriguing none the less.

What if there was an in between world running right beside our own. A world that touches our own in any of the dimensions that the inhabitants need it to. A world where reality is open to interpretation. What if this dimension was populated by beings that once lived in our world, were once human, but now are more. And what if these beings reason for being was to see all the possibilities in a person's life and choose to “push” the people they have chosen to be more than they would have been if left to their own devices. What if these pushes where the bumps, manias, drives, delusions, insights, adversities that we have come to feel are part of normal life? What if the most notables in human history like Eisenstein, Newton, Bach, Da Vinci - and on - back through the millennium, were all products of influences by these shadowy beings.

Good vs evil? Angels fighting demons? Maybe it's your point of view?

Maybe that is what makes Devon's Probability Angels so intriguing. Another layer is painted on or one is pealed off and you feel like you have been shown the inner workings of the big clock. With all this going on, the temptation is to created a cast of characters to match the scope. Devon has resisted, keeping the players small enough so you can empathize with them. Sometimes the action is completely off “screen”, happening somewhere else. Other times Devon has us ride along as the action builds to a point that reality goes off like a fourth of July firework with everything happening at once.

Probability Angels story line is at times like a two year old filly trying to get it own head and you can feel that Devon is grimly hanging on. However the risks he takes in plot devices pays off in ways that I haven't seen since Sam Delaney's Dhalgren. Sometimes you're wondering what's going on or where's the plot going, but Devon doesn't let either boil too long and will give you something to get a toe hold or a hand hold on.

Probability Angels is at times mystical and full of the feelings of Eastern mysticism. Then other times hard edged and emotional, but never boring.

Imaging combining Highlander with Foundation and you start getting a feel for the book. A shadowy organization steering humanity out of the darkness – populated with “immortal” beings who's motivation is not always clear. There....have I confused you enough yet?..

Probability Angels is not for everyone, especially if you like hard - extrapolated science fiction. But if you like thought provoking speculative fiction, wow, you couldn't ask for a better fit!

Check out Joseph Devon's web site here

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