Reviews & Praise

[A] terrific sci-fi thriller... fans of Robert Heinlein open to more nuanced characterizations will be delighted.

—Publishers Weekly (★ starred review)

A fast-paced, intelligent military space opera... Barry brings his skills of characterization and satire to the fore.

—The Guardian

I found myself at 12:30am having to pry myself away from the book... one of the most original conceits I’ve encountered in quite some time. A triumph.

—The Nerd Daily

Yet another example of [Barry’s] ability to deliver big ideas in the form of breathlessly efficient sci-fi thrillers... As always, Barry excels at hitting the sweet spot between brainy and entertaining. A crackerjack thriller set deep in enemy territory.

—Shelf Awareness

Something for everyone: space combat, interpersonal tension, and aliens, ultimately leading to a story about survival.


Barry has a true comic writer’s pessimism, imprisoning his crew in a ship as indifferent and unreadable as any alien enemy... a light-hearted thriller with a superb dark, existential sting in its tail.

—The Sunday Times (UK)

★★★★★ Extremely smart... This is Barry’s masterstroke... page-turning anticipation which pays off beautifully.


Compelling and innovative. In unpredictable ways... Barry takes a story that has been done countless times before and makes it seem original.

—Associated Press

Excellent... chilling... [a] deceptively straightforward AI vs aliens romp.

—New Scientist

Such a blast you almost overlook how clever it is.

—The Daily Mail (UK)

Imaginary Awards for Best Novels: 2020 Favorites

The Imaginaries (podcast)

But the novel is not all psych games. When the battle klaxon sounds, Barry shifts into suspenseful military-SF mode, delivering tense and suspenseful depictions of warfare. His speculative elements are top-notch, as is his technological gadgetry. And when we eventually get a peek into the salamander home world, his crafting of their ecology and culture surprises and astounds.

—Locus (Paul Di Filippo)

Terrifically entertaining... it’s Barry’s empathy for his characters, his willingness to dig deep into their foibles, that distinguishes Providence from most of the golden-age science fiction that inspired it.

—Locus (Ian Mond))

[B]rain-bending adventure


[A] quirky, character-driven commentary on the mechanisation of conflict and the sheer perversity of human nature. Smart and fun.

—Financial Times

[A] smart space opera that combines aliens and artificial intelligence with an exploration of the fragile human psyche.


★★★★★ [E]asily the first, best book to beat this year... Fantastic characters, disturbing situations, and a slow boil... I have become an absolute fan.

—Bradley Horner's Book Reviews

★★★★ Exhilarating... superb storytelling and well-drawn characters provide an entertaining and disarming read as only Max Barry can do.

—Press-Republican (NY)

A different sort of space tale... The meat of this is in its human interactions

—Sci-Fi Bulletin

★★★★ Sharply effective... calls to mind genre touchstones like Alien and Starship Troopers [and] adds plenty of updated subtext to its punchy plot.

—The Big Issue (Australia)

Barry is a master... this seductive study of four flawed but (mostly) likeable characters interacting during isolation and wartime is a fine read.

—The Day

Hidden behind the mayhem are deeper questions of free will, and how much agency any human being can have in an age of machines that think faster than we do. In all his books, Barry examines how our creations—corporations, language, machines, and software—rebuild us after we’ve built them.

—Book & Film Globe

Barry works his way thrillingly to where the greatest threat of all lies... and it isn’t out there, it’s down here.

—The Digital Fix

Though Providence is filmic with its punchy dialogue, propulsive narrative and trip-wire suspense, Barry spends enough time with each of the quartet to make you care about them... exhibits the same imaginative brio as Jennifer Government and Lexicon

—The Saturday Paper

Compelling... rewarding... [a] deftly and economically crafted story. Barry is in familiar territory but manages to defy expectations

—The Herald-Sun

If you like the stuck-on-a-spaceship genre (like me), you'll definitely want to put Providence on your list.


Just a thrilling story right from the beginning. If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, this book will be perfect.

—Red Carpet Crash

Here’s what is so compelling about Providence: it’s a popcorn blockbuster that constantly weaves its story back onto itself, which then makes us question where we fit into the universe. It’s a fun space book that threw me into a minor existential crisis.

—The Big Smoke

“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 it in one sitting and I guarantee you’ll do the same.”

—Jeffery Deaver, bestselling author of The Bone Collector

“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

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

“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

—Daniel H. Wilson, NYT bestselling author of Robopocalypse and The Andromeda Evolution

This is what great science fiction is made of... Max Barry has written something completely different, utterly entertaining and cleverly twisted.

—Jon Page, A Couple of Pages

“I couldn't put this book down—finished it in less than two days. Take the best parts of The Martian and Starship Troopers and you are halfway there. At every turn, there were fresh twists. The point of view pings from one crew member to the next, but even a couple of brief flashbacks do little to dull the book's breakneck pace.”

—Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore (Acton, MA)

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