With a boffo combination of hard science fiction, cosmic Lovecraftian horror, both cyber- and god-punk, some ridiculously charismatic aliens, and a fascinating female protagonist somewhere on the autism spectrum, Ada Hoffman’s The Outside feels like it was made to order for us here at Skiffy and Fanty!
But this isn’t just another space adventure, and its protagonist’s uniqueness, however refreshing, is not the most interesting thing about it. The Outside is a work of near-maddening subtlety that plays with an interesting set of conundra: given that we perceive the universe via kluged-together sense organs with very limited range, how much of what is actually Outside can we comprehend? Say we try to do something about it and invent machines to augment our senses. And then we let them evolve into godlike self-aware entities. The better to expand our horizons?