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The Outside

(The Outside #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,153 ratings  ·  451 reviews
Super-intelligent AI Gods rule the galaxy. Their algorithms determine the rewards you reap before and after death. But the Gods give and the Gods take away. And Yasira has never been good at Gods...

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive on board The Pride of Jai that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality
Kindle Edition, 406 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Angry Robot
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,153 ratings  ·  451 reviews

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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 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Chris Berko
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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. :)
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
Hélène Louise
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
“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

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
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
Bertie (LuminosityLibrary)
The Outside is a superb debut novel that combines cosmic horror and space opera to create an intricate, original world filled with multifaceted characters. With a strong focus on neurodivergence and its complexities, this book is a shining example of what science fiction desperately needs more of. Yasira Shien is an autistic scientist who has created a groundbreaking new reactor for the first human-built space station. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy have held technology tightly in their grip, b ...more
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved that fact that the main character was austitic, as I got autism as well I love seeing characters have it in books. But the story overall wasn't able to fully grab me even if I liked the premise. It wasn't a bad book by any means but unfortunately it wasn't as emersive as I had hoped. 3.5 stars. ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 31, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-the-book
I love how this starts on a space station, scientists are doing their job. Almost mundane for that setting while working on a human made energy drive which will be a breakthrough. Because everything is pretty much made by AI Gods, they rule the galaxy. Normal is thrown out the window when the generator is switched on. The space station is destroyed and many people die. From here on weirdddd things start to happen, I will not go into it too much as it is a fun concept to explore. And also hard to ...more
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.

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Sarah B
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not often I run across something totally unique and different as I've read so many novels over the decades but this one certainly IS unique and different! And even more amazing is the fact that all of the characters are actually interesting. I mean that just never happens. In most books you might have a few interesting characters if you're lucky but I was intrigued by all of them, right from the leads down to the many legged spider-like alien and the weird living spaceship. Don't ask me why ...more
Sara Norja
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
rachel ☾
#2) The Fallen ★★★☆☆

Trigger warnings for (view spoiler).

Representation: Yasira (mc) is an ausitic lesbian; Tiv (li) is a lesbian.

ATY #5 • A book by an author with two sets of double letters in their name

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseTwitterIns
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
Aug 23, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
A book filled with promise, AI gods and angels, Lovecraftian beings tipping their toes in reality, neurodivergent characters and brilliant ideas, although a little unbalanced in the ensemble.

The worldbuilding is hauntingly shining, as much as Ais overpowering humanity is a long held speculative fear, the book takes a step farther adding the Lovecraftian element to my huge surprise and adapted very smoothly to the scientific perspective in which things are framed, the main characters are scientis
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Norwescon: The Outside by Ada Hoffman 4 7 Mar 16, 2020 06:06PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "The Outside" First Impressions *No Spoilers* 57 148 Nov 06, 2019 06:19AM  

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The Outside (3 books)
  • The Fallen (The Outside, #2)
  • The Infinite (The Outside #3)

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26 likes · 6 comments
“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.” 1 likes
“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
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