- File Size: 3332 KB
- Print Length: 318 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1529352045
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (March 31, 2020)
- Publication Date: March 31, 2020
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07V526L7X
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,423 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Providence Kindle Edition
|Length: 318 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"Something for everyone: space combat, interpersonal tension, and aliens, ultimately leading to a story about survival."--Kirkus Reviews
“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
“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
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Beautifully written and instantly captivating, Providence assigns a character to be the point of view character in each chapters, allowing us to get into their heads and really care about them. If you've ever found yourself surrounded by narcissists, for instance, you will understand that Barry seems to have lived through that as well and he's used it to fuel his writing.
His alien species has a neat hook that gives the entire novel an element of scientific horror to it - as physics advanced in the real world, Barry was able to use that to make his aliens terrifying in a really modern way. Even with how gross they come off to us - normal humans - he still manages to bring forth feelings of sympathy with one hand while taking it away with the other.
I liked spending time with everyone on the crew. There is an element of subtle melancholy to this book that I don't know that I've seen before with his work but that sort of works perfectly in the world we're living in at the moment.
Best book I've read in a long time. I loved it.
(You can trust this review more than the last one because I am able to correctly count the number of people on the ship which, and I cannot stress this enough, is four.)
Aside from the slightly depressing and abrupt ending, almost like Max said "I'm done writing, the end!" This was a great book that made me feel like I was reading one of the classics from the 50s and 60's but with more modern concepts. Fans of Max's earlier works will not be disappointed, and fans of Sci Fi should enjoy this as well.
SciFi has two additional hurdles to make the story work, world building and creativity. Both are a difficult balancing act and Berry does a superb job at it here. This book reminded me of Old Man’s War combined with Fuzzy Nation, Starship Troopers and a bit of 2001 Space Odyssey. This book had everything, world building, creativity and most of all, action. What it did lack though was romance. Could’ve at least used a smidgeon of that.
This story only has four characters, two strong female roles, and two male roles where the characters are flawed.
What worked so well for me was how the author set the conflict with great motivation and verve in three pages. Just that quick Berry had me by the throat pulling me through the text. In the way I deconstruct novels, there are four parts of the story arc, conflict, complication, crisis, conclusion. What was also interesting in this book was how the story slipped too soon into the crisis. I have seen this before and what happens is that the action isn’t sustainable the reader can suffer plot fatigue and get dumped out of the story. Berry meshed or integrated the complication with the crisis and it worked wonderfully. In fact, I’m going to go back and reread it to analyze the structure to see exactly how he pulled it off. Great craft.
If you like a good space opera, this is an excellent one and I highly recommend it.
David Putnam author of the Bruno Johnson series.
Better written than it deserves.
I read the "free sample" selection of 10 science fiction books this week, and Providence was the one novel that hooked me right away! And continued to impress, entertain, enlighten, and surprise me. I think the author did an amazing job with the end of the story as well.
It does work although the ending seems a bit rushed. The sense of places is effective and the characters are well thought through. An entertaining novel.
Top international reviews
Another fabulous book by this author & what continues to surprise me is the theme for each book is so totally different but the storytelling is witty, interesting and well written.
It runs for three hundred and three pages. There's a prologue of sorts. Then sixteen chapters. Then an epilogue. Of sorts.
It contains strong language and can be rather violent and gory at some points as well.
The story involves what happens after first contact with aliens. Who turn out to be utterly alien and unintelligible, and completely hostile with it. They are christened Salamanders. Humanity goes to war with them and wants to kill the lot of them.
A new class of huge and powerful spaceships with very deadly weapons are built. They have some human crew.
This is the story of one such ship, and the four people required to crew it. And what happens to them when the ship enters an area of space from which there is no way to communicate with Earth. When Artificial Intelligence meets Extra terrestrial intelligence, what does all this mean for the humans caught in the middle?
This adopts an interesting writing style, with somewhat minimalist prose that describes things as if you are seeing and feeling them happen, through the eyes and experiences of the viewpoint characters. Although there are four crew, it does tend to concentrate on just two of them to begin with. One of whom grabbed me more than the other. The other two remain interesting because you see them through these two's eyes. But bear with it, because the book does get to them in due course.
With minimalist prose it's easy to skim it, and this did perhaps mean it wasn't till page eighty before things really clicked for me, and the book really grabbed me.
It succeeds at portraying aliens and a setting that is completely and utterly alien. And things do move along rather well, leading to a final third that brings the story to a head, doing something with the setting at the same time.
I was still rushing the prose a little at these points, but I was really wanting to know what would happen next.
The ending is very effective, managing by virtue of one of the main ideas of the book to get away with something you'd not normally find effective in storytelling. And it's these ideas that make this. Because whilst as a reading experience it could have grabbed me a little more with the prose, I found the ideas and the ending of it really stayed with me after, and made me think about them as well.
So the book did a very good job at doing what it set out to do. This elevates it to a five star reading experience. So if you want something that has enough ideas to make it quite original, and will make you think with it, then this is a worth a look.
As is the acknowledgment section at the end, which does have some good advice in it.
I'm not really a fan of science fiction at all, but I've enjoyed Max Barry's previous books such as "Jennifer Government" and "Lexicon", and for the first half I really enjoyed this book. It's a quick read, just over 300 pages long, and it kept me engaged although the characters are paper thin and entirely unmemorable - I often found myself forgetting the role of characters and had to flip back to the first couple of pages where they are minimally introduced - and there's a massive cliche revealed very early on where one of them is a bit of a loose cannon. There's quite a lot of action as the ship teleports to an area, there's a battle with salamanders, and then they shoot off again, and although it doesn't really hang together too well and there are some frankly odd bits (not a spoiler, but a scene in a "hot room" involving pipes was rather disconnected to everything else in the book and didn't seem to "mean" anything plot-wise) it's enjoyable nonsense.
It was all going quite well until just over half way through. Suddenly the book changes and it becomes messy, with coincidence following coincidence and it feels rushed, to the point where I found myself turning a page expecting more and that was actually the end. It's a damp squib of a climax, which doesn't really satisfy and spoils the promising first half.
All in all it's enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing.
Then as it enters unknown space things do start to liven up before we have a long flash back to one of the crew's previous service.
Eventually we get to the main action. I will not put any spoilers here except to say that the end does rather smack of the cavalry arriving at the last minute. At least one does not really care if they do not arrive.
I do have one thing about science fiction. Everything should have a scientific explanation. IN Fantasy you can wave a wand and do things with magic but not SF.
The aliens can spit miniature black holes. Now I have always understood that a black hole is a gravity well that sucks everything into it so why can the aliens generate these and just spit them out as highly destructive weapons?.
Second how do the aliens propel themselves through space with no suits or means of propulsion? At one stage we hear that some of them have wings but wings do not work in a vacuum.
At first glance this book reads like military science fiction with a slow burn. The reason being it is not the action that matters, but the relationships. With only four principles we get to know them well, but it is their relationship with the ship itself that is key. If our job is run by AI, is there any need for humans at all, even in war?
'Providence' is more cerebral than you may hope, but there is action, especially towards the end. The book would appeal more to fans of ideas sci fi and not the action types.
When the ship is ordered into the unexplored Violet Zone, the enemy adopts different tactics and the behaviour of the ship creates unease with the crew, who eventually have to go into action in ways they are apparently not prepared for...
I found this to be a pacey, well thought-out novel; it switches the narrative viewpoint between all four crew members and although many Sci-Fi tropes are present it does give a reasonably ingenious pitch to familiar ideas.
A quick and fairly enjoyable read.