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

3.9 out of 5 stars 148 customer reviews

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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 1.1 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 (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
'The Engines of God' was one of the first books I'd read from Jack McDevitt; and it had me hooked from the beginning and didn't let go until the last sentence on the last page. I waited very impatiently for this to come out for Kindle and snapped it up once it did.

Jack quickly became one of my favorite sci-fi writers because of his well richly detailed, well-told stories. You feel like you're along for the ride -- you can see, hear and smell everything the main characters do -- your heart beats quicker with the anticipation of new finds and new places -- you feel the horror when things go wrong -- and you feel the loss of something special.

The story is well paced and written and the same with the characters. This is the first story in 'The Academy' Series and really sets up the mystery of what The Engines of God are, or what they're thought to be. As you read the following stories in the series, you'll gain more and more informaiton on who/what put the monuments on various planets or around planets and why. You'll also get an understanding of space travel, alien archeology and where the future of space flight has taken us.

Buy the book, put your feet up and enjoy a ride into the future -- see the ruins of alien civilizations, experience the wonders of space flight and the beauty of the universe -- enjoy a well written story, with well-drawn characters.
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