Providence (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Having been a Max Barry fan for a while now, I have to say - I love this book even more than I hoped I would. It's way more science fiction than his previous novels, in a way that reminded me of The Martian, Ender's Game, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Four people on a battle-ready spaceship run by AI, hunting down murderous alien lifeforms - what could go wrong? Besides being a space adventure, the book also highlights relevant topics, such as replacing human intelligence with AI, developing military at the expense of civilian life, and using media to create a narrative. You won't be able to put this book down!

— Rachel Copeland

Max Barry's take on a first encounter with aliens is quite brutal but fantastic. This book is a perfect mix of Aliens meets Enders' Game, with a bit of 2001 thrown in for good measure. Four human crew members travel on the ship Providence Five. Their only job is to make sure the AI runs the ship smoothly as they jump to battles with aliens who are out to murder every last one of us. As things begin to go awry, and the humans are cut off from communication with Earth, the aliens become smarter and the AI becomes bolder; each of the crew becomes isolated by their own beliefs and mission objectives. Everything is battling each other, and in the end there's an awakening and retribution of sorts among the crew and AI. This is one of the most interesting, philosophical science fiction romps that I've read in a long time! 

— Jason Kennedy


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.

About the Author

Max Barry is the author of numerous novels, including Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He is also the developer of the online nation simulation game NationStates. Prior to his writing career, Barry worked at tech giant HP. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two daughters.

Praise For…

“[A] terrific sci-fi thriller.”--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Something for everyone: space combat, interpersonal tension, and aliens, ultimately leading to a story about survival."--Kirkus Reviews 

“Compelling and innovative. In unpredictable ways... Barry takes a story that has been done countless times before and makes it seem original.”--Associated Press

"A fast-paced, intelligent military space opera...Barry brings his skills of characterization and satire to the fore...Barry delivers some stunning action sequences and provides a bittersweet resolution."--The Guardian 

Providence is an absolute treat. Pulls the trick of being both irrepressibly old-school sci-fi and creepingly relevant to the data-driven future.”--Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will Be Invincible

“An astonishing novel! Providence is Philip K. Dick and William Gibson fueled by pure adrenaline (with a bit of Spielberg and Ridley Scott thrown in). The brilliant, unstoppable imagination of Max Barry glows on every page of this action-filled, yet emotionally resonant, tale. It will keep you riveted from first page till last. I read in one sitting and I guarantee you’ll do the same.”--Jeffery Deaver, author of The Never Game

"Action-packed and unsettling, Providence is a sleekly-written parable about the absurdity of war--and the deeply human urge to destroy everything we don't understand, whether it comes from a distant planet or right here on Earth." --Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous and The Future of Another Timeline

“Brain-bending adventure.”Newsweek

“I could not put Providence down until I’d finished it in one thrilling sitting. This is science fiction at its best—a ship so believably alive and characters so determined, flawed, and compelling that you’ll forget you’re not also part of the crew.--Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

"Max Barry has a true comic writer's pessimism, imprisoning his crew in a ship as indifferent and unreadable as any alien enemy. What must this ship think of its crew? Are they its children? Or an infection it must deal with? Providence is a light-hearted thriller with a superb dark, existential sting in its tail."--London Times

"After all this myth and fantasy, time for some proper SF with aliens and futuristic hardware. Max Barry’s Providence sees the four-strong crew of an AI-controlled spaceship shot into deep space to take part in a war against a reptilian extraterrestrial species nicknamed salamanders. Claustrophobia and isolation lead to tensions on board, while the ship itself, almost godlike in its indifference to the people within, pursues its mission regardless. The result is a quirky, character-driven commentary on the mechanisation of conflict and the sheer perversity of human nature."--Financial Times (UK)


Product Details
ISBN: 9780593085172
ISBN-10: 0593085175
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: March 31st, 2020
Pages: 320