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The Engines of God (The Academy #1)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  5,064 ratings  ·  298 reviews
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ebook, 432 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Ace Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Terence
Mar 01, 2009 Terence rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: HardSF fans
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Rating: 2.5 stars

Is there a requirement that a "hard" SF author can't write believable characters or dialog to save their life? Or, rather, considering the general level of education and IQ among that crowd, is it a conspiracy so that they can chortle over the nearly inevitable comment in any review of their books about the simplistic characters and amateurish dialog?

Well, no matter. I picked up a copy of The Engines of God at a library booksale for 50 cents so I can't complain too vociferously.
...more
Melissa McShane
What bugs me about this book is that I read the sequel, Deepsix, first. That pretty much kills the mystery that unfolds in this book. McDevitt's greatest skill is his ability to weave a mystery into an action novel. The characters aren't stock, but they aren't outstanding either (the main character develops more in later books), and the point is really to experience alien cultures and try to work out what happened to the ones that disappeared or died out. This isn't just space adventure, it's ar ...more
Paul Darcy
by Jack McDevitt, published in 1994.

There is something I really, really like about a mystery science fiction, especially if that mystery comes from a long vanished alien race.

Well, this novel, “The Engines of God” is just such a novel. 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
...more
Ted
I asked for recommendations for good sci fi and this was on the list. I can't say I agree.

Partly it's the setting - two hundred years in the future, but that odd sort of future which is just like 1995 with a couple of future-y things added. The telephones have video and there are faxes, but now they go faster than light. Are there really science-minded writers who think that the modern world is just like the early 19th century?

The lack of characterization is typical for science fiction, so I was
...more
David
Mar 12, 2014 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: monument-makers, xenolinguists, tenure-track planetologists
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. 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
...more
Clark Hallman
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 ...more
Jim
This is book 1 of a 6 book series known as The Academy Novels (aka the Priscilla Hutchins Novels). Sadly for me, I read book 5 first, not knowing any difference. But, it really didn't make much difference except I know where Priscilla Hutchins is in her career.

This is a very good book and a treat to read. McDevitt has been praised by other Sci-fi authors as being one of the best...and I could not agree more. I like his works very much.

This book introduces us to outer space archaeology, where Hut
...more
Oscar
Mi primera incursión en los libros de Jack McDevitt ha sido una absoluta decepción. Me esperaba algo más de lo que ha primera vista parecen aventuras y arqueología espacial. 'Las máquinas de Dios' no ha logrado mantener mi atención en casi ninguna página. Los misterios que plantea apenas me han interesado. Y es que la trama apenas avanza y cuando lo hace, es muy lentamente.

En fin, espero que mi siguiente incursión en la ciencia ficción de McDevitt logre atraparme más, porque lo que ha sido esta
...more
Caren
Jack McDevitt is one of my current favorites. He loves to build an great adventure story with fantasic female heroes! Don't fall in love with any character though.... as that's the one you will lose.

I HIGHLY recommend if you are a sci fi fan!
Ethan
This sounds like something I would love (ET archeology! Space travel!) and McDevitt must be popular enough to take up a lot of space on the bookstore shelves, but I just couldn't get into it. I'm not entirely sure why. It could be, as some other reviewers have noted, that the world circa 2200 seems way too much like the world circa 1995 (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 ...more
Julie Davis
My review which ran at SFFaudio.

Climate change has Earth on the brink of disaster. The only viable solution is terraforming other planets to ensure survival. For a small group of archaeologists, however, terraforming is the worst possible solution. The only suitable planet is also the one planet with the most promising artifacts of an unknown alien race. Known as the Monument Makers, the aliens’ buildings feature a seemingly uncrackable code on them. The team is looking for the alien equivalent
...more
Nicolas
Ce roman nous raconte les aventures d’une pilote de vaisseau et de ses camarades d’expédition, à la recherche d’artefacts d’une supposée civilisation intelligente et des traces qu’elle aurait pu laisser. J’étais au début de ma lecture tout à fait enthousiasmé par ce roman et par l’ambiance qui s’en dégageait. En effet, cette exploration de reliques extra-terrestres par une équipe purement scientifique me rappelait deux très bons romans : Le moineau de Dieu pour le côté assez amateur de la missio ...more
Andreas
Humanity has achieved starflight. Expeditions have found mysterious monuments from several civilizations. Most intriguing is the evidence of extinction events which have occured repeatedly and independently on various worlds. We follow pilot Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins and various archeologists and linguists as they try to solve the puzzle.

The plot is certainly engaging, and well laid out. The characters are well described, although some felt two dimensional. McDevitt takes a good stab at sense o
...more
Craig
McDevitt has created a terrific little niche of space archaeology that's all his own with the Alex Benedict books and the Priscilla Hutchins series. This is the first volume of the Priscilla Hutchins series, and I enjoyed it very much despite having previously read later volumes. This one feels more two books than one, in that there's an adventure and conclusion just about exactly half-way through, and then they're off to a second planet. The stories are told with the flavor of adventurous myste ...more
Chris Chivers
I generally do not care for 'Mystery' novels, being more of a general Sci-Fi Action or Fantasy Action fan. I have really enjoyed the Alex Benedict novels, so have been giving Jack McDevitt's other works a try. In Engines of God the author sets up this universe, and primary character, that I grew to enjoy, despite the cliche'd nature of her. (Small so scrappy, wants to do life her way, not the way anyone thinks she should, etc).

In this novel 'Hutch' visits a planet with some archaeologists to try
...more
Scott
I do like this book. It has a good story, compelling and believable characters, and a star (Priscilla Hutchins) worth building a series of books around - in fact, McDevitt does.

I think the premise is compelling: archaeology done on ancient, highly advanced and now extinct alien civilizations on the outer fringes of the galaxy. The dialog is realistic, the interplay between the scientists is fairly believable as research banter, and you grow to care about the characters.

However, this is not a wor
...more
Dawson
You can get a synopsis of the plot on the Amazon pages. So I am going to give my impression of the overall series.

This is the first book in a series by McDevitt. It introduces the character of Priscilla Hutchins, a star ship pilot circa 2220. As another reviewer said, the books have something of a mystery novel feel to it. Much more noticeable is the documentary/diary feel to this series. Overall though, it is good "hard sci-fi". A couple of things that stand out in the series to me:
1) His main
...more
Kálmán Bálint
Definitely worth a read, starts a bit slow, but as the story progresses it gets more and more intense. There are a few hints in the book by the author which come to pass in following chapters, those are a bit annoying (basically they are spoilers).

Still it's a great read, and i need to get the next volume :)
Arkham
The story is well told and gripping, but it is very hard to get past the blatant and absurd scientific holes, several of which are pivotal in the most important places. No matter how sharp the corners or high tech the engineering, no line can be drawn between two points on a moon and expect it to point to any single place. Moons rotate, and revolve, usually with a wobble around a planet that revolves, usually with a wobble, around a star. A fixed line on the surface cannot point to the same plac ...more
Randal
Mar 07, 2015 Randal rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody in particular
Shelves: sci-fi
Three stars for the concepts, two for the readability ... two & a half overall.
The plot revolves around a group of archaeologists whose investigation of artifacts left behind by an alien race slowly unravels the mystery behind the artifacts. Slowly is the operative word here. This is fairly dense by sci-fi standards, with lots of descriptive writing. It feels like McDevitt doesn't want to give up control of his vision of exactly how things look to the reader, so he's going to describe everyt
...more
Philip
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathaniel
Jack McDevitt is really, really good at two things: first, creating really interesting, intricate scenarios (often involving lost civilizations) and two, scripting tight, compelling plots that function as slow reveals of those scenarios.

The more of his novels I read (I'm up to three or four, I think) the more I am coming to appreciate this talent. And, taken on that level, I'm starting to like his books more.

There a couple of drawbacks, however. The first is that the characters seem very pro-f
...more
Brittany Fleer
Okay, let's be honest. There wasn't as much characterization as there could have been, even for the main character, and at a few points (namely nearer the climax of the book) the danger and tension felt a tiny bit forced. Neither of those factors, however, are anywhere near enough to persuade me to rate this book less than 5 stars.

Why not? Because, frankly, this book is just awesome. Archeology? Mysterious aliens? New worlds to explore? What isn't there to like?? The conflict and plot were endle
...more
Linda
I like this audiobook. It involves a search for the monument makers that leads to a more a perhaps more important, at least in the short term, discovery.

There are a number of interesting characters, many of whom get killed in ways that are not pretty.

The story takes place 200 years in the future, when the earth's environment is taking its revenge -- weather is unpredictable and generally very bad. Space travel has been going on for awhile -- inhabited and formerly inhabited planets have been fo
...more
Kate
How come I never heard of Jack McDevitt before? I picked this book up in a second hand bookshop in the summer and finally got around to reading it. And it's brilliant. The story is basically archaeologists in space in the 23rd Century - humanity has FTL space travel and has found that far from teeming with life, the galaxy is actually quite sparsely populated with many civilisations having risen and fallen before humanity developed civilisation. Hence the xenoarchaeologists.

The characterisation
...more
Idamus
Interesting enough, but too many info dumps, I think they were newspaper headlines, the made me zone out and miss some narration
William Drynan
Like a lot of mass market science fiction this book is a lot bigger on the ideas than the quality of the writing itself and the development of the characters. Which is fine. Hutch is likable enough, and each character is sufficiently distinguished from the others so that it doesn't feel like they're all just slightly difference iterations of each other who talk and act the exact same way. I wouldn't say any of them is overly complex, but they aren't totally shallow either.

The story itself had m
...more
Scott Holstad
Funny, I thought this book would be boring, but it really wasn't. It was pretty exciting. It's got space ships, scientists and archaeology of ancient alien civilizations, alien space stations, other worlds and other beings on other worlds, not all nice either, murder, love, mystery, a sense of foreboding -- what more do you want? Hutch, the protagonist, is a space ship pilot and while many reviewers complain that her character doesn't develop sufficiently for them, I really enjoyed her. I did fe ...more
James Morton
This is pure space opera. Its not as hard-sf as Alistair Reynolds GAP series, but it clearly was dealing with big ideas. Like Reynold's book it deals with some ancient species that has developed technology that can destroy emerging civilisations. Some other species figures this out and sets out a series of lures to draw them away. Its main weakness were the characters. The main protagonist is a pilot who doesn't really understand anything that's going on. This leads to the other characters to ac ...more
Jean Hontz
Earth is set to terriform a world where The Academy is working to extract the remains of alien artifacts before they are lost. Just before the deadline, a new find is made that changes everything.

What a fun read. Just the sort of book I like. No laser wars, no crazy manic madmen, just scientists trying to figure out the strangeness of what they find.

Definitely continuing this series.
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Sci-fi book about alien archaeology [s] 3 40 Jan 21, 2015 07:52AM  
Jack McDevitt series discussion group? 5 42 Sep 05, 2014 11:54AM  
  • Coyote (Coyote Trilogy, #1)
  • Survival (Species Imperative, #1)
  • Emissaries from the Dead (Andrea Cort #1)
  • Cosmonaut Keep (Engines Of Light, #1)
  • Dragon's Egg
  • Vacuum Diagrams (Xeelee Sequence, #5)
  • Pushing Ice
  • The Naked God 2: Faith (Night's Dawn 3)
  • In the Ocean of Night (Galactic Center, #1)
  • The Eternity Artifact
  • Stealing Light (The Shoal Sequence, #1)
  • City of Pearl (Wess'har Wars, #1)
  • Probability Moon (Probability, #1)
  • The Color of Distance
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Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. His work has been on the final ballot for the Nebula Awards for 12 of the past 13 years. His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the celebrated Ace Specials series and won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. In 1991, McDevitt won the first $10,000 UPC Internation ...more
More about Jack McDevitt...

Other Books in the Series

The Academy (7 books)
  • Starhawk (The Academy, #7)
  • Deepsix (The Academy, #2)
  • Chindi (The Academy, #3)
  • Omega (The Academy, #4)
  • Odyssey (The Academy, #5)
  • Cauldron (The Academy, #6)
Seeker (Alex Benedict, #3) A Talent for War (Alex Benedict, #1) Eternity Road Chindi (The Academy, #3) Polaris (Alex Benedict, #2)

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