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The Outside

(The Outside #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,468 ratings  ·  300 reviews
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 t ...more
ebook, 401 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Angry Robot
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Caroline Lambe Hi, I work at Angry Robot Books, and The Fallen will be published in July 2021! More info:
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This is the 3rd book recently that I have read or reading that has characters with disabilities and I think that’s bloody brilliant!

This book was crazy as hell and I loved it! I mean an autistic scientist WOMAN! <-- Hell yes! Freaking robot angels and computer Gods! <-- Dude, that's some crazy stuff right there.

Praise to the Gods of the galaxy, who brought us out of Old Earth.
Praise to the Gods of the warp drive, who push at the edges of space.
Praise to the Gods of the portal, who op
Re-read 6/7/21:

I just had to revisit the story before diving into the sequel, and it was as good as I remembered. I'm a very big fan of reality modification, dreams, and quantum physics LIES. :)

Original Review:

You know those times when you're super anxious about new (to you) authors you request on Netgalley just by the looks of the cover?

Yeah, well, I think I've just found my second squeeworthy book for the year and I'm going to say just this one thing:

If there's any justice in the world, this b
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was wonderful! I don't have anything particularly intelligent to say about this book otherwise as I'm still in the "I love it!" phase. I loved main character Yasira Shien, with her love of science, her difficulties relating to others because of her sensitivities (autism-related), and how that was handled through the story, her love of Tiv, her partner, and how Tiv understood what Yasira needed to function in a demanding environment. And just how great Tiv is, in general.
And the Lovecra
Chris Berko
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everything I love about fiction is found in here. You can tell who the author's influences are, no shocker there look at the front cover and read the back cover, but this story is totally its own thing and remains fresh and unique throughout. If you plan on reading this and I recommend you do, try not to do too much research into what it is about and go in with as little knowledge as possible. All will be explained and it is a seriously kick ass ride. ...more
Allison Hurd
I thought this book was going to be epic, given how it started. The beginning made excellent use of classic Lovecraftian style horror to the point I got a delightful shiver down my spine. However, I don't think it quite lived up to its promise.

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things that were great:

-The horror. When it was horrific, it was very very horrific, but when it was bad it was meh. If you like horror
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Space opera with a Lovecraftian edge and a neuro-diverse cast.

Humanity has spread to the stars thanks to the Gods, entities far-evolved from human-created quantum super computers. Scientist Yasira Shien leads an effort about a space station orbiting the planet of Jai to create something special with only the technology that the Gods allow humans. But soon after Yasira's experimental reactor comes online a terrible disaster destroys the station, bringing Yasira the direct attention of an Angel of
I said I wasn’t done with this, but it turns out I am. I just don’t want to continue.

The making of AI into gods just sort of made me bonkers. The science is way above my head, and after reading the comments in the group-finished-thread I don’t anticipate liking it any better in the future.

Sorry friends! I’m really not this grumpy in real life I swear!
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

A mind bender, but not so much so that I couldn't follow what was going on. There were some great ideas, such as the Gods and minion angels being ascended from quantum computers that achieved sentience and essentially took over shepherding humanity in a way that suits their interests, most notably by limiting human advances in science and technology.

The writing was quite good, and the characters had a lot of potential. I'm not sure I would have necessarily picked up that the main charac
Skye Kilaen
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-genre-scifi
Mini-review: Extremely satisfying sci-fi + cosmic horror with a queer autistic gal scientist lead. I especially loved the backstory for the world, with godlike AIs setting strict limits for human technological progress. If you have this on your TBR, I highly recommend moving it up. :)
Bogi Takács
I was asked to blurb this book, and this is what I wrote:

"THE OUTSIDE combines science and magic into a terrifyingly coherent whole. Yasira’s quest reaches beyond the limits of human minds, and Hoffmann takes us all the way there, with paradoxical precision. THE OUTSIDE tackles themes of neuroatypicality, teacher-student relationships and artificial intelligence with subtlety and grace, expanding the boundaries of cosmic horror. THE OUTSIDE is a powerful, striking debut, and Ada Hoffmann is an a
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff-group-shelf
The 3 star rating is for the time being, because I have to re-read large passages of the novel.

I liked the take on the neural atypical characters. I could readily identify with them.
Yet I had a hard time concentrating on the story per se. This happened to me once before, when I was reading "Ninefox Gambit", and I still don't know what or why this is. There were parts I had to repeat 5 times, because my mind started wandering at the same spot each time.

So for now I go with the middle rating and
Hélène Louise
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I was very excited by the premises of this book ; its beginning (aside from one point, see below) was really good. In fact I read with pleasure most of the book before losing patience and interest.
Why, it's rather difficult to say, probably because the story in itself didn't manage to be good enough to make up for the points which annoyed me...

The story is original for its setting which was the reason why I read eagerly for a while. The idea of overpowering IA which have became gods was great an
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of cosmic/eldritch horror & space opera
Recommended to jade by: autumn
“the stars open wide. there’s nothing inside.”

when looking for a cool and clever way to start this review with (and not using the words “new and fresh” like i’ve been doing for the past 500 sci-fi reviews i’ve written, which says infinitely more about me than the genre), i came across how author ada hoffmann described their own novel on twitter:


like, let’s be real. i couldn’t top this description even if i trie
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-club-read
3.5 stars rounded up because I always like weird. This was a solid 4 star book right up until the end. I loved the idea of the Outside and I never had a good idea where the story was going which, for me, is also fun.

I thought the AI "angels" were well done. Omnipotent in a very AI way, crunching vast amount of data yet ultimately not being able to fully predict human behavior. I didn't fully believe Yasira was on the spectrum but it did not really matter much to the story or my enjoyment of the
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it

That was my general feeling over the last quarter of this otherwise very interesting, unusual, quirky novel. I couldn’t begin to tell you why the climax occurred the way that it did.

Other than that, I’m pleased to read a novel written by an openly-autistic author that features an autistic protagonist. And that protagonist is a wonderfully unique individual, brilliant and flinty and sensitive and strange. I admire Ada Hoffman’s efforts to spin a yarn that attempts to reck
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three and half stars

(sorry for my English)

I agree with the comments from another Goodreads users: this is a half science fiction/half cosmic horror novel

Mrs. Hoffmann develops an interesting and very promising story. “Outside” has good ideas and most are well developed. It occurs to me that the author has not the writing skills that Peter Watts (my previous reading) or has the H. P. Lovecraft's (father of the horror cosmic subgenre) ability to captivate and transmit feelings, but maybe she will
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
It’s damned refreshing to read a book where the central character struggles with being genuinely different.

And I don’t mean different in the sense of being a little weird, or quirky, the drinks-tea-in-a-coffee-culture eccentricities commonly used in novels to set a character outside his or her norm. I mean having trouble understanding other’s emotions, inappropriate outbursts directed at authority figures and full-blown-foetal-position-on-the-floor sensory meltdowns.

This troubled and very diffe
K.J. Charles
AI gods and Lovecraftian Other collide as an autistic scientist attempts to save the worlds from tyranny exercised by technologically enhanced thugs known as angels. It's a terrific premise which takes a while to get your head round but is well developed, and the neurodivergence aspect is really well explored IMO, showing the effects of societies and well as situations on individuals. Highly engaging once I'd got into it. Also entirely queer in a low key way. I liked this a lot. ...more
+e-ARC gently provided by Netgalley and publishers in exchange for an honest review+

3.5 the truth is not always there stars

Yasira Shien is a scientist working in a new human tech in a spacial station in 2791 when all goes terrible wrong. Now the gods and angels give her another assignment.

It is not a bad book, but in my case it made me go uphill to finish reading it. It is probably because my neurons were not on par with the pseudoscience that appears here, but in large part it was because I cou
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This has to be one of the most unique science fiction stories that I have read. Often, science fiction stories tend to follow a stereotypical formula so was refreshing to find a book that was so different. The author showed incredible creativity surrounding the technology and world building of this future. There were so many moments when reading this book when I stopped just to appreciate a unique concept or idea. 

While this would certainly be classified as science fiction, this book of
Oleksandr Zholud
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a SF (fantasy?) novel with elements of horror. Minor spoilers about the setting are present.

The world building is quite interesting – the mankind spread across the galaxy, there is a broad variety of tech – humans are limited to something like middle XX century tech (lamp computers!) with higher tech owned and supplied by gods. Gods are sentient ultra smart AI, which communicates with humans chiefly through angels – heavily cybernetically augmented (post-) humans. There is a place for so
Landice (Manic Femme)
5.18.21: Audio reread to prepare for the sequel and it was just as excellent a second time!

5.22.20: Will return with a full review later, but this might be my favorite book of all time.

Let's be friends!
Bookstagram | Book Blog | Twitter
Sara Norja
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: I received an ebook ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

THE OUTSIDE is a space opera with Lovecraftian influence, dealing with mechanical Gods and angels, the very nature of reality, and complex psychological and moral dilemmas. It also features a wonderful queer couple.

I fell in love with this weird, twisty book from the very start. Such a complex journey. I especially enjoyed how the main character Yasira's personal arc goes in directions that are unusual for a p
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, arc-s, sci-five

First off, can I just say how impressed I was to receive a debut novel featuring an autistic central character written by an autistic writer? So often we get characters who aren’t neurotypical written by those who are and it’s hard to know how well it actually represents them.

That aside, this was an intense read. The technology and world building were mind blowing. It was a little hard to wrap my head around at first (a glossary or index would have been great), but the more I read it the
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really waffled on how to rate this. The world is really interesting and what ultimately hooked me. I wanted to understand it. It was truly intriguing and unique. And these are all things that for me have maybe the highest priority in a book.

Sometimes the story felt a little slow and it was told from a single perspective which felt narrow at times. A lot of the story took place in the main character’s thoughts.

So I can’t decide if I should rate this 4 or 5 stars. Let’s just say 4.5 because it
The gods torture...

The synopsis had such promise. If this was not part of a group read I would have stopped at about the half way mark.

There are many reworkings of Lovecraft, but I did not feel this was one. The only character that seemed developed with a back story was Ev. The rest felt disconnected and incomplete. Tiv was a wasted plot device.

I am glad others seemed to enjoy the book, but I found it slow, wading through detritus to get to the unsatisfied ending. This unfortunately leaves enoug
La La
The autism representation was just too off the tracks for me in this one. You can't teach people with autism to identify social constructs they don't see in the first place, and to be embarrassed about breaking them... like being too blunt (truthful). It's like saying you can teach a colorblind person to see colors they can't physically see because being able to sort laundry is a great skill to have. Trying to make those with autism more socially "acceptable" isn't for them, it's for you. What w ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Everyone seems to be making this huge deal about the main character being an autistic queer female, and that's great and all, but the overall story didn't do much for me. Honestly the main character got on my nerves with all her introspection. Overall it fluctuated between 2 and 3 stars for me.

The story was decent, my favorite parts were of the Gods and Archangels, especially Enga. I'd probably read the sequel just to read more from their point of view.

It started out strong and interesting, and
Hester J. Rook
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book! Full of gays and space and tech gods. Full of interesting ideas and beautifully written.
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2019, 4-star
Thank you to Angry Robot and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion about the book in any way.

As soon as I saw in the netgalley synopsis that the main character was autistic I didn’t know how quickly to hit the request button. I was super excited to read it, and clearly I enjoyed it with my rating of 4 stars, but it also was very different from my expectations. It was a lot harder to get a grasp on. Confusing.

Beyond the autistic mc I
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Norwescon: The Outside by Ada Hoffman 4 7 Mar 16, 2020 06:06PM  
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SciFi and Fantasy...: "The Outside" Discuss Everything *Spoilers* 38 78 Oct 31, 2019 10:42AM  

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The Outside (2 books)
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“One didn’t need a pliable personality like Elu’s in order to get on well with people. One only needed to anticipate and manage their desires.” 0 likes
“Well, it did what Outside usually did in stories. Showed up. Violated all the known laws of physics. Killed some people and drove the rest mad.” 0 likes
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