'Compelling and innovative... Barry takes a story that has been done countless times before and makes it seem original' - Daily Mail
She is the ultimate weapon. She once served us. Now she's got her own plans.
Once we approached the aliens 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 salamanders' 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 bystanders. The Providence will take them to where the enemy are and she will dictate the strategy in any battle.
The crew's only job role is to publicise their glorious war to a sceptical Earth. Social media and video clips are THEIR weapons in an endless charm offensive. THEIR chief enemy is not the space reptiles but each other, and boredom.
But then everything changes. A message comes from base: the Providence is going into 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...
PROVIDENCE is a dazzling, inventive, and thought-provoking new novel from the author of Lexicon.
This terrific sci-fi thriller from Barry (Lexicon) pits humanity against a powerful and rapacious alien enemy. In the near future, scientists studying bacterial growth aboard a research vessel in space die after being attacked by six-legged creatures, some human size, that spit tiny black holes. Earth declares war on the aliens, nicknamed salamanders, recruiting the best and the brightest to seek out and destroy as many of the creatures as possible. Seven years after that deadly first contact, five combat spaceships enhanced with advanced AI are launched. One is under the command of Capt. Jolene Jackson, whose crew consists of an IT expert, a weapons officer, and a life officer responsible for maintaining the crew's mental health. All four struggle with the challenges of their isolated and claustrophobic four-year mission, even as the vessel's AI makes most of their abilities redundant. Naturally, the assignment isn't as straightforward as it was billed, with the salamanders able to learn and adapt from every defeat, and each team member is tested both mentally and physically. Fans of Robert Heinlein open to more nuanced characterizations will be delighted.