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Non-Zero Probabilities by N. K. Jemisin

Non-Zero Probabilities

by N. K. Jemisin

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The laws of probability change in New York so that low probability events become common. Interesting concept but not much story. ( )
  sdobie | May 7, 2010 |
It’s the first time I’ve read Jemisin, and I love the story.

Adele lives in New York City. It’s a New York City almost exactly like our current New York City, except that sometime in the recent past probability was altered so that unlikely events became much more likely. Basically, the bell curve has been flattened somewhat. Just in New York City.

One of my fascinations is how people respond to statistics, numbers and risk. Bruce Schneier, for instance, constantly harps on how people overvalue the risks involved with unlikely but specific events. For instance, we (as an American society) are much more scared of a terrorist attack like at the World Trade Center than we are of car accidents. Yet Americans living in the U.S. are at least 12 times more likely to die in a car accident than they are of dying in an incident of terrorism.

So here we have a New York City where dice roll double ones repeatedly, trains derail, and people win the lottery out of proportion. Some people can’t handle it; they leave. Others flock to the city hoping for a one in a million miracle cure. Others, like Adele, adjust. She carries lucky items with her for protection, and avoids one in a million events. But unlikely things aren’t all bad (such as the miracle cures), so she stays in the city. Also, it’s New York City.

Also on my blog at: http://reading.kingrat.biz/story-reviews/clarkesworld-podcast-february-2010 ( )
  KingRat | Apr 30, 2010 |
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