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All Those Vanished Engines

2.83  ·  Rating Details ·  109 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
In All Those Vanished Engines, Paul Park returns to science fiction after a decade spent on the impressive four-volume A Princess of Roumania fantasy, with an extraordinary, intense, compressed SF novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real hist ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Tor Books
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(showing 1-30 of 1,006)
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

All Those Vanished Engines was a real doozy to read and rate, as you would expect of meta-fiction. I admit I’m quite inexperienced when it comes books that use it as a literary device, and my feelings for this book remain rather mixed. On the one hand, the ideas and themes in here intrigued me and I found the execution of those themes to be quite clever. That interest alone fueled me throughout the novel, but on the flip
Jun 23, 2014 Metaphorosis rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, 2014-rev

2 stars

Alternate past and alternate future mingle with a proto-memoir by Paul Park.

I first encountered Paul Park via The Starbridge Chronicles, a brilliant SF trilogy that was somewhat opaque, even difficult. I followed that to Celestis (disappointing), and The Gospel of Corax (very good, if surprising in nature). When his subsequent series A Princess of Roumania came out, I bought it right away - excited to at last see another Park novel, and about Romania, which I know
May 17, 2014 Annie rated it did not like it
I am left with one question after reading Paul Park's tripartite novella, All Those Vanished Engines. That question is "What the fuck?" All my other questions about this strange book can be summed up in that one useful phrase...

Read the rest of my review at Summer Reading Project.
Nov 23, 2014 Gerhard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“It’s all meta-fiction, all the time.”

“I always warned students against complexity for its own sake, and to consider the virtues of the simple story, simply told.”

These two quotes sum up what I found both fascinating and frustrating about this short novel of three inter-linked meta-narratives by Paul Park. On the one hand, Park rather dazzlingly conveys not only the potential of the written word, but the plasticity of the novel format itself.

We are so habituated to traditional narrative formats
Oct 31, 2014 Melliane rated it did not like it

Mon avis en Français

My English review

I was hesitant to start this novel and it is true that the reviews were very mixed and it made me anxious. But I think you always have to try a novel by yourself to see how the story really is. The synopsis is rather vague so it’s pretty difficult to really know what will happen here.

I did not know Paul Park or his other series but it’s true that even if the idea is really intriguing and interesting for its originality, I struggled to get into the story.
Althea Ann
Jun 19, 2014 Althea Ann rated it it was ok
This is one of those cases of a whole being less than the sum of its parts.

There is some good writing here. I've had Park's 'Princess of Roumania' on by TBR for a while now, and I'm not revising my plans to read it.

However, this is very explicitly not in the vein of Park's other novels. It's more of a piece of writing *about* his novels (and a number of other things). It's metafiction that explores the differences between (and the intersection of) reality, memory, and imagination.

It's an ambitio
Mar 01, 2016 Jana rated it did not like it
Shelves: arcs, 1-star, giveaways
Perfect for fans of William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, or J. G. Ballard--by which I mean that the narrative involves a semi-fictional version of the author, multiple stories within stories (all of which affect the tenuous reality of the plot), unreliable narrators, and a hyper-sexualized male gaze regarding any female character. I am not a fan of those authors, and I did not enjoy this book, but clearly I am not its target audience.

I received a free ARC of this book as part of a giveaway offe
Tom Gregorio
Jul 22, 2014 Tom Gregorio rated it did not like it
I read a review that indicated this book was pompous and pretentiously unreadable. 50 pages in and I had to concede that that was an accurate review. I could give many examples of why I thought it sucked but I won't waste any time: Either the author, publisher, and editor were all wasted or I was. I'm sober, straight, and sane so I'll let you make the call while I add Paul Park's Civil War reconstruction deconstruction to the list of books I'd use as digital toilet paper.
Jeff Raymond
Aug 01, 2015 Jeff Raymond rated it liked it
I never know where books that are ambiguously experimental sit on the spectrum. All Those Vanished Engines is one of those strange books that pulls from real life and from alt-history/science fiction to provide a strange tale overall that doesn't always work for a lot of reasons.

On one story we have a post-Civil War situation with the North and South split. The second a more modern post-World War II tale with a lot of references to Second Life, the third act a futuristic alien tale, all tied tog
Shaun Duke
Aug 28, 2014 Shaun Duke rated it it was ok
"It occurs to me that every memoirist and every historian should begin by reminding their readers that the mere act of writing something down, of organizing something in a line of words, involves a clear betrayal of the truth." -- All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park (Pg. 173)
Of the novels I've reviewed in the last year, this is by far one of the most difficult. All Those Vanished Engines (2014) by Paul Park is not your typical SF novel. It is layered, divergent, and postmodern. If I were to
Stacy Likes Spicy Sausage
Sep 07, 2014 Stacy Likes Spicy Sausage rated it did not like it
There was very little science fiction in this book. Sure, science fiction-y things were mentioned but while reading it I just felt like the author had just spewed verbal vomit all over the pages. I thought the first story was science fiction but the other two parts...well, I'm not sure what they were supposed to was more like "here, I have all these ideas...all these thoughts drifting in my mind and I'll try to arrange them in some kind of order..." Good thing this was free (library book ...more
Emily Park
I am so confused, I have no idea if I liked this or not. I think I did? But I also think I missed a lot of things. Probably going to have to mark this as one to re-read soon...

On another note, I think there's a very good chance that the author of this book may be a distant cousin of my father's, as his side of the Park family was also involved in the Civil War and lived in Virginia.
Nov 07, 2014 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Great hard sci-fi. Wonderfully imagined meta-meta-fiction. I'll be looking for more by Paul Park.
Nov 04, 2014 Alan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: My future self
Recommended to Alan by: Title and synopsis
It occurs to me that every memoirist and every historian should begin by reminding their readers that the mere act of writing something down, of organizing something in a line of words, involves a clear betrayal of the truth. Without alternatives we resort to telling stories, coherent narratives involving chains of circumstance, causes and effects, climactic moments, introductions and denouements. We can't help it.
This is even before we start to make things up.

All Those Vanished Engines co
Aug 23, 2014 Carl rated it it was ok
I give this two stars only because he manages to use the Civil War Battle of the Crater as background for each of the three "interconnected" stories.

This has to be one of the most disappointing reads I have come across in quite a long time. Paul Park's name has bounced around the library- particularly about his 4 book fantasy series A Princess of Roumania, and the book has very positive blurbs from writers like Gene Wolfe, whom I have a great deal of respect for.

All three of these "Alt history"
Bob Milne
Aug 31, 2014 Bob Milne added it
Shelves: dnf
Dense, thickly layered, and far too self-aware, this came across as a difficult read that attempted to be clever, but which was just confounding. Part of me wanted to admire the narrative effort behind the meta-fiction, but admiration is not entertainment. I persevered for as long as I could, hoping it might become clear, but eventually just lost patience with it all.
Sep 22, 2014 Nigel rated it it was ok
The two stars are earned, necessary, even though as the book rolled on to its later sections it managed to be far less unpleasant than its first third. There's just such a brittle, slight connection between the book's alternating pieces, and only the barest sense of a point to any of them being there at all. Other readers have expressed a sentiment similar to "What the fuck did I just read?" but that's more a knee-jerk response to the book's soupy premises and lack of narrative reliability. Park ...more
Fantasy Literature
Aug 16, 2014 Fantasy Literature rated it did not like it
I'm not a big reader of avant-garde fiction. In fact, I'm SO not a big reader of it that I'm not even sure if I'm applying the term correctly to Paul Park's recent novel All Those Vanished Engines. I'm probably not. But the thing is, I'm not sure what term to apply to it: meta-fiction? Experimental fiction? Alternate history with several unreliable narrators who may or may not be Paul Park himself?

All Those Vanished Engines is a novel told in three parts. The first part is about a child, Paulina
Ian Mathers
May 25, 2014 Ian Mathers rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, rt
I will admit, I took this for review partly (largely?) because the blurb compared it to Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus, one of my favourite novels ever. I can see why; three sections that could be set in different universes or in the same place, viewed different ways; a certain level of ambiguity and self-reflexiveness; no real conclusion or the most definite conclusion, depending on your sensibility. There are definitely differences, though; few people write prose as beautifully as Gene Wol ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Ron rated it it was ok
Be forewarned, you will loose track of who the main character(s) is/are, what time you are in, what is supposed to be happening. There are interlocking tales that recycle characters, location, and events while spinning the readers expectations and perceptions with little to no clue when the author is switching out tales. The way this novel struck me is the author sees this as one authorial stream of consciousness peering out of different eyes and speaking through diverse mouths. If you enjoy thi ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Jacqie rated it did not like it
Shelves: didnt-finish
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think another reviewer expressed my sentiments quite succinctly: WTF?

I haven't read Paul Park before, but knew that he had written "A Princess of Roumania", which I understood to be a YA series somewhat in the vein of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. So I saw an opportunity here to try his writing out. It was NOT FOR ME.

Everything felt dreamlike, and I couldn't put anything together in a fashion that made any s
Steev Baker
Feb 08, 2016 Steev Baker rated it really liked it
As a work of postmodern fiction, "All Those Vanished Engines" has a plot twisted in on itself and layered on top of itself, full of self-referential winks and dream-like asides. Is it science fiction? If pressed, I would call it classic magical realism. The reader is never quite sure how much of the weird stuff has actually happened and how much has been created, dreamed, or hallucinated by the narrator(s). The story is told in three parts. Names, places, and events weave in and out of these par ...more
Maria Beltrami
All that Iunderstand of this book is that it is a story of dystopian fiction set just after the Civil War, secession "happily occurred" and that gave birth to two matriarchy.
The remainder is so full of metastructures, stories that come into other stories, made on purpose misspellings that make the reading difficult, to the point to be completely incomprehensible.
Let me be clear, I am not opposed to meta-narrative, indeed, often providing pieces of literature really intriguing, but honestly here
Oct 31, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
ALL THOSE VANISHED ENGINES by Paul Park is imaginative fiction, part steampunk, part alternate history. It's actually three interlocking novellas, BRACELETS, THREE VISITS TO A NURSING HOME, and GHOSTS DOING THE ORANGE DANCE. It's also a good example of what is called meta-fiction, fiction which reflects back on itself, is in a way about itself. This is a form not very accessible at times. In ALL THOSE VANISHED ENGINES, there are characters who are in the process of writing, whether it be stories ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Julie rated it did not like it
I only read half the book, and that was mostly with confusion and dislike. I finally just couldn't do it anymore. There were glimpses of interesting and well-written work, but not enough to hold me. I think he tried to do something very different, and it just didn't work for me. I wish he had written it straighter because I think he has a lovely voice when he is using it in a language I understand.
Dan Smyth
Feb 03, 2016 Dan Smyth rated it it was ok
Quite well-written mess of story pieces that overlap somewhat by similar references to people, places, and things. Very little about it was anything like science fiction, even though it's been marketed as a science fiction book. The main sequence of the three sections of story weren't anything like what the inside jacket cover said they were. Such a waste of my time to read.
Graham Crawford
Dec 28, 2014 Graham Crawford rated it did not like it
Only read this book if you enjoy art wanks that crawl up their own bums.
Po-Mo post-structuralist post-enjoyment drivel.
Oct 06, 2014 Machalla rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it. Don't waste any of your life on this. You'll regret it.
Jan 24, 2015 Emily rated it it was ok
Experimental meta-fiction gets old fast
Nov 01, 2014 Kirsten rated it it was ok
One of the stranger books I've read.
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  • Slights
Paul Park (born 1954) is an American science fiction author and fantasy author. He lives in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children. He also teaches a Reading and Writing Science Fiction course at Williams College. He has also taught several times at the Clarion West Writing Workshop.

Park appeared on the American science fiction scene in 1987 and quickly established himself
More about Paul Park...

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“I thought you could build a story that would function as a machine or else a complex of machines, each one moving separately, yet part of a process that ultimately would produce an emotion or a sequence of emotions. You could swap out parts, replace them if they got too old. And this time you would build in some redundancy, if only just to handle the stress.
One question was: Would the engine still work if you were aware of it, or if you were told how it actually functioned? Maybe this was one of the crucial differences between a story and a machine.”
“The heroine might be unsure. And the reader. But I don’t think the author should be.” 0 likes
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