“The Outside” Review

The cover is filled with black metal spirals that look like snake skin - squared areas with bolts. There is a character in a red spacesuit standing on one of the spirals. The book title is at the top of the cover and the authors name at the bottom. Written by Ada Hoffmann
Published by Angry Robot, June 2019
400 pages
Completed January 6, 2024

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

This was a strange but really good book. The “AI Gods” were essentially created by humans a long time ago out of their computer systems and then grew to become god-like figures because they’re so powerful. People believe in them and worship them like they would other gods, except these gods are real not like the old religions of the past to paraphrase the book. Makes for an interesting read. What also makes it interesting are the two main characters who are both autistic but were both treated very differently. Yasira was given all the supports she needed growing up while another character was beaten into being “normal” – didn’t work out so well. The world building is interesting and I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just leave it at wanting to know if what I suspect about the universe they’re in is true based on various plot points that came up.