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Publisher's Summary

Humanity's super-intelligent AI gods brutally punish breaches in reality, as one young scientist discovers, in this intense and brilliant space opera.

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.

©2019 Ada Hoffmann (P)2019 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Hoffmann confidently layers morality and disability rights into a breezily told adventure that bursts with sheer fun.... This beautifully smart, uncynical space opera will charm fans of Charles Stross and Lois McMaster Bujold." (Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about The Outside

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not good.

Not much happens and then a character becomes suddenly important and we're supposed to care.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Exhausting main character paralyzed by self doubt

The main character in this story is the most self-deprecating, fearful, unhappy creature I've ever encountered in fiction. At first this is likable, but the character keeps on passing up opportunities for self-growth or for questioning the "way things are" this combined with the worried narration makes it exhausting to listen to.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Resonating and powerful for the neurodivergent

A story of space, magic, and the unknown and unknowable. This story does a particularly good job of being relatable to people who are neurodivergent or LGBT+ and is full of suspense all the way through, with every event compelling and making the next irresistible.

2 people found this helpful

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An engaging new take on lovecraftian horrors!

The Outside is an engaging new take on lovecraftian horrors in a scifi setting!

The world building is detailed but it never feels like you're getting bogged down in trivia.

The main character and main antagonist being on the autistic spectrum adds a delightful layer to the story, as from their perspective humans are themselves arbitrary alien messes with incomprehensible rules.

The book works well enough as a stand alone story, but I hope there is a sequel!

2 people found this helpful

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Satisfied All My Cravings For a Sci-Fi Book

Hoffmann’s world is populated by a variety of post op angels, vague gods who rule over them, good, bad and so-so aliens, and an intrepid and brilliant young autistic scientist who embarks on the journey of her life. Without getting into the story line, let me just say, it was interesting, clever and refreshingly original; beautifully written and spot on narration. It kept my full attention front to back.
I just read there is a sequel tentatively set. I hope it’s with the same narrator, Nancy Wu.

Anyway, 5 stars, 2 thumbs’ up and a resounding Yes!

PS It's months later and I've re-read The Outside only to love it even more than the first time. I thought Nancy Wu's narration was perfect. Her voice captured the inner musings of young Yasira, the hesitant, lost and confused and yet oh-so determined genius scientist we follow on her path of discoveries. Please Ada Hoffmann, hurry with the next one!

2 people found this helpful

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Unflinchingly honest

One of the best books for characterization I've ever read - especially the villains. Everything in the story is driven by motive, and all actions (or intended actions) make sense from each character's vantage point, poured through the lens of their prior experience with other people.

There's also a keen sense for how one's frame of reference affects both one's own understanding and how others perceive one. The way that the Outside is experienced reminded me - as if through a twisted, dark glass - how all the many possibilities of time were experienced by Muad'dib in Herbert's Dune. How transformative such a loss of self can be, how dangerous it can be, to everyone connected to the one transforming, losing themselves.

But Hoffmann's rendering of that consciousness is more exacting and feels more real, rather than imagined, more drawn from the terror, ecstasy and horror of perception altered - not by psychoactive substance, but by extreme experience and ordeal.

And, gods, that last conversation is so on point for lived experience.

1 person found this helpful

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not enough. poor story arc.

the parts of a story are there. it has interesting sci-fi. add it to your love craft portfolio.
but it lacks story arc. i'm left saying to my self, Do i care what happens? should i sit through this?
great narration.

4 people found this helpful

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Im glad I gave it a second chance

The 1st time I tried to listen to this book I gave up and started a new one. But I gave it a second chance and it was an interesting story about an autistic young adult engineer. Her life takes a turn away from her “faith” and her limits are tested.

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Time is a lie

There's an A.I. god named Nemesis that trades human souls in and out of the void to torture them. Basically irl. Loved that it had an autistic protagonist 🖤✨

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Gods, souls, religion

Did a double take on this, thought it was scify
-turned out medieval fantasy
Was closer

1 person found this helpful

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  • martin kenna
  • 07-25-19

an author with her own original ideas

it's not often I cant wait to finish a book so I can get to the ratings bit to comment. the narrator is not my taste but tells the story well. well done Nancy. the story itself. Wow. having read thousands of books I can normally predict the plot 9 out of 10 times. Not this one. Because it's so original I had no idea where it was going to end up. So impressed

2 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Harry
  • 11-09-19

Meandering and boring story

The story was far too long and we spend far too much time inside the protagonist's head with her thoughts and worries that repeat and go on and on. Too many filler scenes, repetitive scenes that say things we've already been told. The central mystery about outside is not worth finding out about.

The voice acting kept me listening but honestly this was a slog to get through and I should have abandoned it