The Engines of God (The Academy, #1)
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The Engines of God (The Academy #1)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  4,215 ratings  ·  241 reviews
Two hundred years ago, humans made a stunning discovery in the far reaches of the solar system: a huge statue of an alien creature, with an inscription that defied all efforts at translation. Now, as faster-than-light drive opens the stars to exploration, humans are finding other relics of the race they call the Monument-Makers - each different, and each heartbreakingly be...more
Mass Market Paperback, 419 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Ace (first published 1994)
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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
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
Melissa Proffitt
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Eddie D'intrepid
Classic sci-fi and archaeology rolled into one. This is an interesting story, but there were several things I did not like. First, the story is slow and plodding (which made it easy to put down and go do something else, so it has that going for it). The action sequences just didn't convey the sense of urgency they should have.

Second, the ending is supremely anti-climactic. To say it leaves you unfulfilled is an understatement. I understand that is just the first book in a series, but the non-end...more
Idamus
Interesting enough, but too many info dumps, I think they were newspaper headlines, the made me zone out and miss some narration
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
Michael
this was my first "hard" sci fi book I've read. I didn't know what to expect, and I must admit there were some parts which I just skimmed through (usually the parts with too much technical detail). overall, a good book with decent character development. the plot builds, and builds, and builds, but the ending failed to deliver concrete answers (which is probably the point of the book).
Jessica Meyers
This book was difficult to get through and even more difficult to rate. Jack McDevitt is an amazing writer. His words can bring you to laughter or to tears. In which case he did in this very book. I find his ideas and philosophies of the universe phenomenally- beautiful and thought provoking. Each and every time there was a climax in the story he met my expectations of something fantastic and exciting, and in most cases, exceeded my exceptions.

This book had a lot of character building aspects t...more
Grace
Who the hell doesn't love an archaeological fiction about aliens?! Seriously. Archaeology, space, a mystery that asks, "What happened to the aliens that were here?"

Summary
The Engines of God is a strange book that combines archaeology, space, and a modern apocalyptic Earth. Earth is in shambles with the same ol' tragedy that we over extended and over used our resources, thus destroying the earth. Naturally the only recourse was to find a different planet to move to. While the discoveries were r...more
Staticblaq
Not sure the Goodreads star ratings match up well for this story. It was a solidly-written 3 star book, but really only rates as an "It's okay" more so than "I liked it".

I knew going into this novel that it was part of a much greater series, however, I still felt very disappointed by the fact the book raises a lot of questions but doesn't deliver any answers. I would be more drawn into the series if there had been real revelations that created an even broader mystery and greater promise and ques...more
Tamahome
Mar 04, 2010 Tamahome rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of female characters/conflicts with nature
I want to give it 3.5 stars. A little slow in the beginning, but then it ramps up. Some engaging characters, and Jack McDevitt knows to build suspense. He likes to vary the text with diaries, newspapers, etc. I just wish things that they were in conflict with were more 'sfnal'.
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!
A.C
Allthough it was an interesting read and I like Hutch very much - It is always a joy to read about a woman as the main character - this book could not hold my attention. It is a shame because I find far to less SF books I really enjoy.
Brooke
If half stars were available, this would be a 3.5. Having finished off the Alex Benedict/Chase Kolpath series, which I loved to bits, I turned to McDevitt's other series of sci-fi archaeological mysteries. Unfortunately, I felt a little let down, since The Engines of God was missing a lot of whatever spark the Alex Benedict books have. At times I felt like I was reading something by James Rollins (whose books I enjoy, but they're quite fluffy with more emphasis on escaping precarious situations...more
Karen Azinger
Another good read from Jack McDeVitt. I love his mix of alien archaeology and deep space adventure. Mysterious and thrilling and interesting.
Matthew
I have heard many people theorize about what future, alien archeologists would think about us. this is the first story I have read about us being archeologists on other, alien worlds. Add that to the fact that I love well told elements of political conniving sand this was a wholly entertaining and frequently fascinating book.


I only had one problem. While trying not to spoil anything… The "explanation" was a little random. Don't get me wrong it was set up throughout the book but it's so far out...more
John
My first book by Jack McDevitt. I read this followed by one of his others, The War Lover. Interestingly they both have extraterrestrial archeology as a major part of the plot line, but after that, they are very different books.
Good points about the book. Very interesting mystery as to who the Monument Builders are and why did they leave the various structures behind, and what happened to them. McDevitt also does a great job at handling the aspects of the conflict between the archaeologic team tr...more
David
I've read quite a few of McDevitt's novels and have generally enjoyed them. Last Christmas I read his three "Alex Benedict novels" while enjoying a vacation in Hawaii - easy reading mysteries with a Sci-Fi theme.

"The Engines of God" is the first novel in another sequence, now composed of 6 novels, called "The Academy Novels". ( I had read the third of the series - "Chindi" - a few years ago, not realizing that it was part of a connected series. ) The story line revolves around future (ca. 2200)...more
Michael
I will have to read more McDevitt to get a feel for his writing style. In a nutshell, I like this book. Would I recommend this book: yes. Now, on to the finer points. I found the prose dry and uninspiring for the most part. The characters were flat and uninteresting with the exception of the female protagonist, whose name eludes me. She was interesting, and following her story line was one of the few elements that helped me through completing this novel. The only other element that prevented me...more
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Jack McDevitt series discussion group? 4 28 Aug 23, 2013 09:32AM  
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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...
Seeker (Alex Benedict, #3) Eternity Road Chindi (The Academy, #3) A Talent for War (Alex Benedict, #1) Polaris (Alex Benedict, #2)

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