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Table of contents

This echoes the way real science and real exploration work, but requires the book to provide enough space in which to embed moments of discovery. That space is taken up, as it would be in life, by interpersonal issues, deeper characterization, and often petty politics. When the technique doesn't work, McDevitt's books can feel a bit padded, but when it does work as with Chindi , the pace is part of the atmosphere and effectiveness of the story.

Here we have Hutch and Melanie Trucscott, first a rival, later almost a friend, both interesting people that you would like to know. And he's very good at economically sketching even minor characters, who are seldom rendered as ciphers or stereotypes. He gets mocked for the romance, but here's a minor character's haiku, for counter-evidence: "If they look for me, Say, she rides where comets go, And outpaces light. The terraformers' scheme involves massive thermonuclear weapons embedded in both polar ice-caps. Awfully hard on the native flora and fauna!

I guess there wasn't much regulation, that far afield So, strongly recommended for fans of archaeology in space and old fashioned interplanetary adventure. Apr 15, Scott Firestone rated it it was ok Shelves: science-fiction. I've managed to pick up half-a-dozen Jack McDevitt novels over the years, but never managed to read one until now. The Engines of God is one of his earliest novels, and it showcases what I love about science fiction, and what I hate.

The Engines of God

It's a few hundred years in the future, and we've discovered monuments on planets and moons around the solar system. The book makes use of a few set-pieces to move scientists and archaeologists toward finding out what those monuments are and what they mean. We don't I've managed to pick up half-a-dozen Jack McDevitt novels over the years, but never managed to read one until now. We don't get a whole lot of answers, but I think those unfold in the following books.

The Engines of God

The events are mostly interesting, with a highlight including a trip to an abandoned alien space station. A few things do ring untrue, such as how close two groups cut it on an alien planet. One group is scientists trying to dig out alien goodies, and the other group is terraformers waiting to wreck a planet and those goodies to make way for a new habitation for humans.

They're overlapping each other to a dangerous degree, and it just didn't seem like something that would actually happen. Another odd piece was a sequence involving crab-like creatures on a planet. It didn't seem to fit the rest of the narrative, and felt like something included solely to increase the "excitement. The worst thing is the characterization--and it's that thing I "hate" about so much science fiction. As a genre, science fiction is often full of wizz-bang ideas, but peopled with flat characters that have no personality or character growth.

That's evident here. Again, it's one of McDevitt's early novels, so it's very possible he gets better at it. I'm just not super anxious to find out. I am curious about finding those answers teased in this book, so I'm sure I'll dive in at some point.

Paperback Editions

But with increasing numbers of science fiction authors who manage to marry the cool ideas to great characters Alastair Reynolds and James S. Corey, to name two , I have other options that sound better right now. Jan 09, Paul Darcy rated it really liked it Shelves: science-fiction. There is something I really, really like about a mystery science fiction, especially if that mystery comes from a long vanished alien race. It seems that thousands of years ago, when humanity was just picking up sticks and learning how to brain each other with them, an advanced alien race was busy building incredible monuments in the galaxy.

We follow Hutch, a spaceship pilot, as she travels with archa by Jack McDevitt, published in We follow Hutch, a spaceship pilot, as she travels with archaeologists to visit and investigate the creations left behind by the Monument-Makers. We start off on Iapetus, a moon of Saturn, where an assumed self-portrait of one of the creators is sitting for all to see.

There are even, preserved in the ice near the self-portrait, footsteps of the creator as well. Very cool opening to the world we find Hutch in. There is action, danger and a lot of who-made-them-and-why about this novel. It is a milieu novel, and as such we get to explore the galaxy according to McDevitt. Something strange has been happening for a very long time and as you read you get to wondering if what happened to other alien civilizations will one day happen to ours.


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There are ruins on planets, objects in space and monuments with perfect right angles on moons. So, just what is going on? A question you as the reader, and Hutch as the protagonist will be asking throughout. Well, you do get your explanation by the end of the book even if, as I found it, not too satisfying but adequate. I mean abandoned alien space stations - how cool is that?

Shelves: science-fiction , aliens , space-opera , audiobook. The Earth is facing environmental catastrophe in the 23rd century. Humans have spread to other star systems, but generally not found a lot of Earth-like planets, and those they have found are already inhabited.

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A handful of intelligent alien races have been discovered, but all are primitive compared to humanity. Most alien races discovered, however, are long dead, and the most prominent is one that apparently traveled to other stars, as their monuments have been found across the galaxy. Earth has The Earth is facing environmental catastrophe in the 23rd century. Earth has generally taken a "hands off" approach to living natives, but as pressure mounts to begin terraforming habitable worlds as an escape plan, this "Prime Directive" morality begins to seem less desirable.

There is an interesting reversal of the classic sci-fi trope, and subtle commentary on colonialism and how we might justify it in the future, when an argument is made to colonize an inhabited planet "for the natives' own good. That technological aid and imposed peace would incidentally involve Earthlings resettling on their hosts' planet would be only a logical extension of a benevolent intervention Jack McDevitt gets compared a lot to Arthur C. Clarke in the blurbs for this book, and that's a fair comparison. Also an unfortunate one as far as I'm concerned, because like Clarke's science fiction, The Engines of God did little to stir any passion in this science fiction fan.

It was a perfectly well written book, it was just dry and flat and even the high stakes did not truly engage my interest.


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Jul 07, Ethan rated it it was ok. This sounds like something I would love ET archeology! Space travel! I'm not entirely sure why. It could be, as some other reviewers have noted, that the world circa seems way too much like the world circa when this was written.

Also, the whole novel and the archeologists therein seems to apply a model of a society's progress to the entire universe based on the h This sounds like something I would love ET archeology! Also, the whole novel and the archeologists therein seems to apply a model of a society's progress to the entire universe based on the history of Western Europe.

While this type of thing happens a lot in science fiction I'm looking at you, Star Trek It seems like what an unimaginative engineer in would have thought archeology is all about. Lastly, all of the characters are flat, unremarkable people who I just didn't care about even though they were engaged in death defying activities. Even Hutch isn't as interesting as one would expect from a starship pilot. Maybe I missed something, but this just didn't work for me.

Jul 31, Kevin Kelsey rated it really liked it Shelves: read Even though I had read books in the series previously, this novel which effectively sets up the entire universe of the story, still had me on the edge of my seat. Nobody does xenoarchaeology like Jack McDevit, yet somehow the massive scale of the story never retracted from fully realized characters.

It drags slightly in 3rd quarter, but massively delivers in the 4th. This guy can write one hell of a conclusion. Dec 30, Maggie K rated it really liked it Shelves: sffbc-tbr , monopoly. I enjoyed this book so much.

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A thoughtful lead-in to a very different type of problem. Nov 19, Glen Robinson rated it it was amazing.

Hardback Editions

The story is set in the year Earth is struggling with overpopulation, its natural resources are pretty well depleted, the effects of global warming have set in, and scientists realize that its days are numbered. And so they start looking for other planets where humanity can settle. At the same time, explorers have discovered one, then many statues on other planets that appear to be monuments to one if not several alien races. The language is for the most part indecipherable, and archeologi The story is set in the year The language is for the most part indecipherable, and archeologists continue to try to find out who left the monuments as well as what happened to the race or races that left them behind.

There are indications that in several instances something cataclysmic happened, and so they are concerned that the same thing might happen to humanity as well. And in all of this is the mystery of who the Monument Makers were, where they came from, and where they went. The thing I really like about it is the reason I choose to write science fiction as a Christian. It attempts to answer the same questions that Christianity does: Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? In fact, it shows that science in many cases is the cause of some of those ills. The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt, is a powerful and fascinating science fiction novel by the Campbell Award and Nebula Award winning science fiction writer and one of my favorite authors.

A group of twenty-third-century scientists excavate and study extinct civilizations on planets in extremely distant solar systems. FTL space travel and many other scientific advances have enabled the discovery and exploration of these planets where alien civilizations once flourished. Unfortunately, only The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt, is a powerful and fascinating science fiction novel by the Campbell Award and Nebula Award winning science fiction writer and one of my favorite authors.