The Outside by Ada Hoffman
AI gods now rule the galaxy. Yasira is an autistic scientist who has developed a groundbreaking energy drive. But after her work is declared heretical by the gods, she is kidnapped by their angel agents and held hostage. The only way to get free is to help them hunt down her former mentor, a dangerous heretic constantly escaping the gods’ grasp.
Queer, neurodiversity, science fiction
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.
This book goes down as one of my favorite books of all time. An extremely rare science fiction where an autistic person is protagonist. The author herself is autistic. There were so many moments in here that made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Yasira has autistic meltdowns from sensory overload, but that doesn’t stop her from being a leading scientist or having a wonderful relationship with her understanding and supportive girlfriend.
Her old mentor is also autistic, and the dynamic between an autistic protagonist and antagonist was so compelling. As far as I know it’s never been done before, but the way they both understood each other despite being enemies added a great sense of depth.
I got so attached to the characters and their fates that I couldn’t stop reading. I was completely emotionally invested. I haven’t felt this connected to a book in so long.
It probably won’t do this for most people, but it’s still a phenomenal book whether you’re autistic or not. I can’t recommend it enough and I am thrilled to have it on my bookshelves permanently.