Putnam. Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780593085172. $27. SF
Seven years ago, the space research vessel Coral Beach was attacked by an alien species known as salamanders. Earth and the salamanders have been at war ever since. The Service has created a new level of war ships known as Providence Five. They’re massive, built directly in space, self-repairing, self-defending, and almost exclusively controlled by the latest in artificial intelligence (AI). A crew of four sent up after the completion of the ship will perform basic monitoring and send video clips back home to create more war support. But about halfway through their four-year space tour, they start having serious doubts about the ship’s A.I., their mission’s true purpose, and the capabilities of the enemy. Barry (Lexicon) takes sf outside the box, adding in elements of horror and humor to explore the moral, biological, psychological, and political issues of a community at war with an enemy they cannot possibly understand. VERDICT Recommended for general sf fans and admirers of John Scalzi and James S.A. Corey. [Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL

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