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The Engines of God Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

By the end of the twenty-second century, Earth's ravaged environment has become a time bomb ticking down to global self-destruction. Despite the fortuitous arrival of faster-than-light space travel, the search for a new home has so far located only one candidate--Quraqua, a desolate planet scheduled for terraformation within a few months. For interstellar archaeologist Richard Wald and starship pilot Priscilla Hutchins, the looming renovation threatens critical research on the enigmatic alien ruins on Quraqua and its moon, which include a bizarre false city dubbed Oz. Rousing little interest on Earth and facing an unyielding terraformation committee, Wald and his team undertake a last round of life-threatening expeditions to decipher Oz's secrets before they are swallowed forever by an emerging new world. With plenty of startling plot twists, a heavy dose of intrigue, and an unusual amount of character development for science fiction, McDevitt holds us fast right through to a thrilling finish. The yarn's less pure sf, though, than a rousing archaeological adventure transplanted to another star system. Carl Hays --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

In the early years of the 23rd century, archaeology has expanded to the stars. Teams of linguists, historians, and engineers are excavating ruins on a number of planets in search of clues about the Monument-Makers, whose civilization was leaving its mark on distant worlds when our ancestors were inventing the wheel. Coming from a planet whose population has outgrown its resources, these archaeological teams must race to finish their work before colonists from Earth are sent to occupy these worlds. Priscilla ``Hutch'' Hutchins serves as pilot for one of the teams. Though untrained in archaeology, she's the one who first sees connections between the spectacular monuments left on various worlds and the peculiar, massive false cities made of solid cubes of rock. These cities, composed only of right angles, appear with regularity throughout the galaxy; all show signs of having been subjected to massive destructive forces. Scientific curiosity and grief over the accidental death of their leader take Hutch and the remains of the team to the edge of the galaxy. There they encounter the Monument- Makers and are faced with a mystery whose solution may hold the key to human survival. McDevitt (The Hercules Text, not reviewed) is at his best award-winning style in this intelligent and wide-ranging novel. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441002846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441002849
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm J. Davris on October 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Engines of God was the book that first got me reading McDevitt. It's an excellent peace of anthropological science fiction. I would recommend it as a starting point for reading the author, along with Ancient Shores.
It typifies the comfortable nature of his writing style, which is some combination of Heinlein's Everyman tone with some of the hard science authors. And unlike some earlier reviewers (i.e. "superdestroyer") contend, it is not at all about "non-happenings." The novel is very much event driven, but the events are driven by the character's desire to understand a dead race and the clues they leave to a mystery that bears very much on the future of the human race.
There are only really 3 weaknesses I see in Engines of God (and McDevitt's work in general), that prevents me from giving it 5 stars:
1) The characterization is weak, not exactly Card or Donaldson or even Babylon 5. This can prove for exceedingly pointless moments as he explores characters that we don't really feel.
2) He has a way of creating slow spots in his writing that can be difficult to wade through if you don't know that there's a payoff coming. This is never really a problem in EOG, but in some of his more recent efforts like Moonfall, it can grate.
3) His writing style will never be considered highly literary. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes there are narrative flow issues related to this that can be jarring.
Ultimately, this book is for people who can enjoy what is very much an above-average prose SF book. It's not the next Stranger in a Strange Land, but -and thank God- it isn't Voyager either.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By T. D. Perdue on August 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I buy a fair number of books, and many of them I struggle to finish, and ultimately get bored and put it on the shelf for another day. I never did finish "Cryptonomicon", or any of Neal Stephenson's books for that matter, even after reading hundreds of pages.
But for some reason Jack McDevitt is able to weave an interesting sci-fi story that can really keep my attention. His books focus on a single character and you are always working your way toward the conclusion of the book. You feel like you're making progress.
Engines of God is no different. There's a constant, logical progression as the characters weave their way through discoveries and ultimately wind up at finding a conclusion that you speculated about, but weren't quite sure. You really want to skip to the end and figure it out, but you don't want to wreck a really good read.
Frankly, I'd like to see a sequel to this book written about 900-1000 years in the future to see what happens.
My first McDevitt book was "Infinity Beach", then "Eternity Road", and now this. All were excellent and interesting.
If I have a complaint about McDevitt, it's that technology in his books isn't all that advanced, even 1,000 years in the future. I guess that helps with the readability, as he doesn't get carried away with tons of technobabble as most authors do.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By on December 30, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After spending a half day looking through science fiction titles at a major bookseller and finding no end to lame, unoriginal plotlines dealing with incredibly stupid premises and generally convincing me that science fiction was truly a dead medium, I came across The Engines Of God and flipped a few pages. Here I found a science fiction story that dealt in tangibles. Alien artifacts instead of conquering aliens. Surviving long enough to find the answers to its point and purpose and then again realizing that these could be our own artifacts. A great idea and nicely executed. I read the book as slowly as I could, but I still raced through it.
Great science fiction is more than an idea; rather an idea that develops in the root of life and has meaning beyond the pages. It needs to provoke thought and provide insight and somewhere must entertain as well. In this book I found all that and I felt both awe and sadness for the makers of the monuments, and, in that, potentially for our own folly and failings. Well done. I am now starting his other books.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I hold Jack McDevitt's writing in high regard and always enjoy his science fiction epics a great deal. While his writing has become somewhat formulaic, The Engines of God provides further proof that the man knows how to tell a good story. This novel is the first to feature renowned pilot Priscilla Hutchinson ("Hutch"), a character who has been involved in more grand missions and suffered some of the most globally cursed misfortunes of any character in the universe. This story is built around the mysterious Monument Makers. Saturn's moon Iapetus houses the first such monument discovered by mankind, a mysterious, winged ice sculpture bearing an indecipherable inscription; its existence fuels the search for more monuments, of which a good dozen are located throughout the galaxy. Following in the footsteps of the unknown cosmic entities is as close as mankind has come to interacting with intelligent life elsewhere. On earth, the ecology has progressed beyond the point of no return, and man is looking outward for new earths to be populated. One possible site is Quaraqua, whose civilization has already collapsed. The Academy struggles to learn all they can about this society underneath the waters of the planet at a site dubbed the Temple of the Winds. Hutch is sent to evacuate the scientists before a terraforming project destroys whatever priceless knowledge lies hidden in the watery depths. For me, this first section of the book was the most exciting. Afterwards, having detected a radio signal, Hutch and several others journey to a more distant system, following the path left by the Monument Makers. They finally end up on yet a third planetary body seeking factual data on the mystical "engines of God" alluded to in alien scripts discovered and interpreted along the way.Read more ›
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