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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2020 Max Barry (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[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

What listeners say about Providence

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is what the future looks like from here.

I rarely write reviews of any substance, other than praising a book, or briefly warning people off. After all, audiobook listeners probably do not want to read a long review.

But I really enjoyed this book. A couple of books that came to mind after I this one ended where, as for many of you I’m sure, Starship Troopers. But also an old favorite of mine, Catch 22.
Both amazing books, and a class of their own. I don’t mean to compare, but this story achieved the same basic ideas without hyperbole or camp. It’s actually believable. * for those of us who can suspend disbelief and enjoy science fiction*
We never really predict the future well. When it arrives, there’s always something we never foresaw.
But this, this is what it looks like from here.

It doesn’t end with that. There are other interesting themes within it. I listen to so many audiobook… just for passive enjoyment, I rarely get an opportunity to think about an author’s work. I will definitely look for more books by this author, and if I don’t find them, I’m will wait for them.

10 people found this helpful

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Start listening now. Don't miss this.

Wow. This book starts with a bare outline of the main characters, then slowly, wonderfully, fills in the essence of each person. I stopped several times because I didnt want it to end. When it did end, I had to just sit for a minute.

9 people found this helpful

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  • AB
  • 02-06-21

Don’t bother

First, the good part: the narrator is excellent. She does an amazing job with mediocre material.

Unfortunately, though the book starts out well and sets itself up to explore some interesting themes of AI, genocide and misunderstanding, and the need for a war to unite people, it doesn’t live up to its potential.

And it’s very, very difficult to root for and follow a plot point that is brought about by the completely unbelievable actions of one of the characters who is endlessly infuriating. The author tries to justify that character’s actions via a traumatic backstory, but it doesn’t stick.

Mostly, I found the book got tiresome. I fast-forwarded through the last third.

Skip it. There must be better Sci-fi books out there.

6 people found this helpful

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The end was an abrupt non sequitur

The premise and overall framework of the story was quite good but the ending seems to me to suffer from a tired author who was done writing whether the story was finished or not. There was so much potential for an ending that explained a lot of the interesting ideas in the story but the end just seemed a bit lazy.

3 people found this helpful

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AI: artificial versus alien intelligence

Max Barry's Providence is a thought provoking tale of a war with an inscrutable alien intelligence fought with an equally inscrutable artificial intelligence. Providence is the name of a nearly autonomous battle ship that is 'manned' by four crewman. The crew is largely there for PR purposes to garner support for the war as well as more funding for bigger and better warships. Each member of the crew experiences the war and life on the ship a bit differently. As the story evolves, it's clear that humans are equally unable to divine motive and intent from their own creation (the AI running the ship) as they are in understanding the strategy, tactics, and motivations of their enemy who turns out to be as confused as they are.

The overall theme is a general 'fog of war' motif with inscrutable commands and actions from generals far removed from the battlefield, replaced by equally inscrutable actions from an AI responding to an alien intelligence that is equally confusing. There are little touches such as creating non-existent problems to keep a particularly curious crewman engaged in busy work, while offering the illusion of command and control to the 'captain.'

The narration is quite well done with good character distinction, especially as the perspective shifts from character to character.Pacing is reasonable and makes for a relatively fast listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Loved the summary ....

The book somehow fell short for me. The characters were flawed and therefore more realistic but I didn't find myself caring for any of them. Still worth the listen and I don't regret spending the credit. I would recommend Max Barry's Lexicon before this.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

great space alien story

excellent narration. easy to stick with the story and had a lot of cool ideas. if your a Max Barry fan you will enjoy although this was a bit of a departure for him atleast in the form of the genre. the 1st part had a real 2001 feel and the third act was alien and star trek. as always he sticks with telling the story thru each individual character which had a more confined feeling here since they are on a spacecraft. I know this just came out but i want more.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Mediocre 😒

Reading the description of this book it sounded enticing and i was excited to get into it but after finishing it i can tell you its a shell of a story. Theres no meat or purpose to it. Very unsatisfactory story over all. Not bad per say but not good by any stretch of the imagination either.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredibly Intense, Thought-provoking Novel!

I couldn't help but care about the four major characters...I laughed, cried, rolled my eyes--but listened in a single sitting starting Saturday morning. The reality of raw survival vs. War as Sport and Entertainment has rarely been depicted so vividly. Weaving human intelligence, alien intelligence, and artificial intelligence together for a brilliant plot works very well; I have always enjoyed Max Barry and am eager to listen again. A credit well spent.

1 person found this helpful

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I had high expectations

I usually love this author's books, but this one just was not as good, I didn't feel it was constructed well. The characters are hard to relate to and I don't feel like there was enough backstory about everything else going on. That being said I'll still pick up his next book

1 person found this helpful