Report on Probability A
by Brian Aldiss

Review by Glenn Frantz

At the opposite extreme from the scintillating Barefoot in the Head is the minimalistic Report on Probability A. The core of this book is really a novelette which focuses on the minute, detailed, and repetitious descriptions of scenes. There is very little action, just a lot of watching and waiting. This excellent core is not all science fictional, and could be compared to the writing of Samuel Beckett, though the mood is not as grim. The novel has been disguised as science fiction (perhaps to ensure publication?) by inserting italicized passages in which the representatives of various alien civilizations spy upon the main story. I recommend skimming these passages, since they contain some relevant information, but are basically an artificial interruption of the rest of the book.

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