Like a good thriller? Like sci-fi? You’ll find both in PROVIDENCE, a 2020 novel by Australian author Max Barry. Starting off with the brutal slaughter of a group of scientists by a pod of implacable alien killers, the novel takes us on a voyage deep into enemy territory with four humans and a super-smart computer ship–artificial intelligence so sophisticated it doesn’t need the humans on board except as public relations material to gain funds for building more all-knowing vessels.
The trip unravels as Weapons, an unstable guy named Anders, falls apart. The four humans duly manage to screw up their brilliant ship’s ability to seek out and destroy resin-coated “salamanders,” as they call the aliens. The flawed but intrepid quartet takes the ship farther and farther from home, and Barry keeps us on edge with one surprise after another.
Part thriller, part satire, part heroic tale, PROVIDENCE is 100% page-turner, the kind of book for which you’ll carve out whatever time you need to finish. It reminded this reader of works by the late Michael Crichton, with the notable exception that Barry provides much more rounded characters. Highly recommended.
Review written by: Glenn Vanstrum
Pair It With:
Galaxy Magic Moscow Mule: If you like a Moscow Mule, this is the perfect drink for you. With the help of the increasingly popular Butterfly Pea Tea, this cocktail changes color as it’s made. What looks like a science experiment is a delicious vodka, lime and ginger drink!