Waiting on Wednesday – Providence by Max Barry

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. For this week’s edition of Waiting on Wednesday, I check out an upcoming science fiction novel that sounds like it is going to be a compelling read: Providence by Max Barry.

Providence Cover

Barry is an Australian author who has written several books since his 1999 debut, Syrup. Barry has created some very interesting-sounding science fiction novels over the last two decades, most of which appear to have some form of social commentary attached. I have not yet had the pleasure of reading any of Barry’s works before, although I would really like to check out a couple of his previous books, such as Lexicon and Jennifer Government. While I have not read any of his Barry’s novels before, I fully intend to grab a copy of Providence when it comes out as it sounds like a particularly awesome bit of science fiction.

Providence, which is set for release on 31 March here in Australia, is Barry’s first book since 2013’s Lexicon. This new book has a highly captivating plot synopsis that I fell in love with the moment I read it, mainly because it sounds like 2001: A Space Odyssey with social media influencers and a destructive alien-killing spaceship.

Goodreads Synopsis:

It was built to kill our enemies. But now it’s got its own plans.

In the future, the war against aliens from the dark reaches of space has taken a critical turn. Once we approached the salamanders in peace… and they annihilated us. Now mankind has developed the ultimate killing machine, the Providence class of spaceship.

With the ships’ frightening speed, frightening intelligence and frightening weaponry, it’s now

the salamander’s turn to be annihilated… in their millions.

The mismatched quartet of Talia, Gilly, Jolene and Anders are the crew on one of these destroyers. But with the ship’s computers designed to outperform human decision-making in practically all areas, they are virtual prisoners of the ship’s AI. IT will take them to where the enemy are, it will dictate the strategy in any battle, it will direct the guns….

The crew’s only role is to publicize their glorious war to a skeptical Earth. Social media and video clips are THEIR weapons in an endless charm offensive. THEIR chief enemies are not the space reptiles but each other, and boredom.

But then everything changes. A message comes from base: the Providence is going into the VZ, the Violet Zone, where there are no beacons and no communications with Earth. It is the heart of the enemy empire – and now the crew are left to wonder whether this is a mission of ultimate destruction or, more sinisterly, of ultimate self-destruction…

Wow, now that is a very cool-sounding plot basis. I love the idea of a war being fought by an AI controlled ship while its human crew’s only job is to provide social media updates, and I am really intrigued to see what Barry’s take on social media and influencers will be. There is so much potential for humour, drama, character development and potentially even horror (if the ship’s AI turns on them) that I am really looking forward to checking it out. So, purely based on the awesome synopsis above (the cover is also amazing), I am going to make sure I get a copy of this book when it comes out. I am extremely confident that Providence is going to turn out to be an outstanding novel, and I cannot wait to read it.

9 thoughts on “Waiting on Wednesday – Providence by Max Barry

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