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The Engines of God (The Academy #1)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  6,395 Ratings  ·  357 Reviews
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ebook, 432 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Ace Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 25, 2009 Terence rated it it was ok  ·  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.
Nov 09, 2011 Ted rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Quite a cool book, and it's only just the beginning of a series I am excited to read. It's an interstellar archaeological mystery, but also a futuristic procedural novel following the working lives of archaeologists, scientists, and auxillary crewmembers. I love this kind of thing (see also Julie Czerneda's Species Imperative trilogy, which follows future biologists through their working lives).

The future McDevitt invents for humanity feels rather realistic, with tons of problems still existing
Paul Darcy
Jan 09, 2012 Paul Darcy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
M Hamed
Dec 28, 2015 M Hamed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, hard-sci-fi
This one is frustrating
First of all .i hate it when when a male writer tries to decipher the female psyche .how would she translate the subtle hints and looks and touchs.
unless he took it to street and made an a extensive survey.I won't buy it ,and I don't like it
And that is mainly why I don't like female lead. Written by male

Secondly.some assholes out there finds ok to summarize the fate of the entire cast of the book in half a show us that in the grand scheme of things.all what you hav
Glen Robinson
Nov 19, 2015 Glen Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story is set in the year 2203. 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 ...more
Mar 03, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  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
Clark Hallman
Jul 08, 2013 Clark Hallman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Jul 13, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
This one gets a good 4 Stars for a great space mystery story, enigmas in space archeology. Recently (within the past few thousand years) space-going civilizations have disappeared. Traces of violent action are found but are unclear. Great space monuments are found. The archeology team is exploring ruins on an earth-like planet scheduled for terraforming to enable future human occupation. The story suffered from an artificial pace, the science team must evacuate so nuclear explosives can melt the ...more
Aug 17, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 07, 2013 Ethan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cupof Tea
Feb 14, 2016 Cupof Tea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have revisited this series a number of times. I very much admire the super-luminal Captain Priscilla Hutchins working for the Academy of the Sciences. She seems to read people well, and although her line of work can be risky, she handles things with confidence and saves lives when she can. She gives her own opinions during discussions with scientists and holds her own. Most importantly, she is creative and curious, not a bureaucratic automaton, so she ends up going on unexpected adventures :P

Damn. That was good. 5 stars if the ending had been better.

|This had almost everything I like in scifi/space-opera: very well done ancient alien races / archaeology and digs on alien worlds, space rescue and survival in extreme situations, epic scope of long dead (view spoiler) alien races, adventure, a bit of love story etc etc etc. I loved it. And have already started the sequel. The ending very abrupt, and the second book hasn't really solved anything ye
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
Jun 20, 2011 Caren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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
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
Scott Firestone
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.

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
Aug 07, 2011 Andreas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2015 Coan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Engines of God is a well written, well paced alien archeological adventure. It's somewhat of a niche topic, but xenon-archeology and the idea of exploring the relics (and spaceships) of an extinct race is something that always catches my eye but is difficult to find.

However, here it is done well and now becomes, in my opinion, one of the top books in that field (alongside Revelation Space and Broken Angels own xeno-archeology -but whereas it was a side part of those stories, here it takes c
Apr 02, 2013 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2009 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
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
Aug 18, 2015 Karin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
In The Engines of God a team of archaeologists are forced off a planet just as they are on the verge of making the discovery of a lifetime. Listening in audiobook, I honestly can't remember the names of any characters except Hutch the pilot. I'm not going to look them up, not out of laziness, but because they don't matter. This is not a book about characters Each character has a name, a profession, and a quirk. Hutch is a pilot who is friendly. There's a xenophilologist who is stuck up.

Heck, I c
Jan 26, 2015 Philip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2013 Dawson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-space
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
Sep 28, 2015 Kammera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
It really is a 3.0 as far as satisfying endings go-not very. However, it gets a solid 4 in terms of writing style and tackling many fun "what ifs" scenarios in following future archaeologists on their fervent quest to solve the mystery of the Monument Makers. The Monument Makers are a long-gone or extinct(?) race that leave behind beautiful and haunting statues and disturbing, puzzling artifacts from thousands of years ago on far-flung moons and planets. Why were they put there? Are they purely ...more
Feb 19, 2009 Arkham rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kevin Kelsey
Jul 31, 2012 Kevin Kelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _library, read-2015
Even though I had read books 3-6 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.
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Sci-fi book about alien archaeology [s] 3 43 Jan 21, 2015 07:52AM  
Jack McDevitt series discussion group? 5 44 Sep 05, 2014 11:54AM  
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  • Night Train to Rigel (Quadrail, #1)
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  • The Eternity Artifact
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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 (8 books)
  • Deepsix (The Academy, #2)
  • Chindi (The Academy, #3)
  • Omega (The Academy, #4)
  • Odyssey (The Academy, #5)
  • Cauldron (The Academy, #6)
  • Starhawk (The Academy, #7)
  • The Long Sunset

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