Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Science Fiction
From the ingenious author of Jennifer Government and Lexicon:
a brilliant work of science fiction that tells the intimate tale of
four people facing their most desperate hour—alone, together, at the
edge of the universe.
The video changed everything. Before that, we could believe that we were safe. Special. Chosen. We thought the universe was a twinkling ocean of opportunity, waiting to be explored.
Afterward, we knew better.
Seven years after first contact, Providence Five launches. It is an enormous and deadly warship, built to protect humanity from its greatest ever threat. On board is a crew of just four—tasked with monitoring the ship and reporting the war’s progress to a mesmerized global audience by way of social media.
But while pursuing the enemy across space, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson confront the unthinkable: their communications are cut, their ship decreasingly trustworthy and effective. To survive, they must win a fight that is suddenly and terrifyingly real.
Max Barry's Providence is a twisted story that begins with a second person narrative about a shocking video that will change everything. Humanity has made first contact with an alien species they refer to as 'salamanders.' It doesn't go well. Unfortunately, humans were unprepared to meet an insect-like, seemingly hive minded alien race, that attacks without prevarication. They appear to live in hives the size of planets out in the far, far universe. Before, Humanity didn't know about the race they call salamanders. After, Earth decides to create ships called Providence that have a (4) person crew and an Artificial Intelligence that doesn't really need humans.
This story focuses on
Providence Five and it's (4) person crew: Jolene Jackson is the
captain. She's a survivor of a salamander encounter. Paul Anders is on weapons
and a loose cannon around the ship. Isiah (Gilly) Gilligan is on intel. He
checks up on the ship’s systems and repairs any issues he finds. Talia
Beanfield is the Life officer who acts as the team’s psychologist and
caregiver. Each signed up for a (4) year mission to hunt down salamanders. Each
of them is holding their own secrets, and they are about to learn there are
threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity--and that the true nature of
reality might be the universe's greatest mystery.
They travel in a
brand new A.I. driven spaceship that over time proves to be difficult for the crew
since they basically passengers and expendable. The Salamanders seem to be
outnumbering them the further into enemy territory they go. And the most surprising
revelation is that the Salamanders are actually learning from their spaceship. When
the ship suffers a surprising attack and are cut off of all contact back home, Gilly,
Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they're fighting,
the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.
The story ends how it began with a second person, unknown, narrative as one of the survivors returns home to Earth. No, I will not say who the survivor is. I will say that the person who does survives, will surprise you. If all of this makes you think of John Carpenter's Dark Star, Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey, I’m right there with you.