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The Engines of God (The Academy #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,735 Ratings  ·  333 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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The Great Dune Trilogy by Frank HerbertThe Foundation Trilogy by Isaac AsimovThe Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsThe Ender Quartet Box Set by Orson Scott CardThe Hyperion Omnibus by Dan Simmons
Best Science Fiction Series
43rd out of 292 books — 876 voters
Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonDune by Frank HerbertLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Excellent Space Opera
113th out of 359 books — 1,956 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Terence
Mar 01, 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.
...more
Ted
Nov 14, 2011 Ted rated it it was ok
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
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
M Hamed
Dec 31, 2015 M Hamed rated it it was ok
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 page.to show us that in the grand scheme of things.all what you hav
...more
Tom
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
...more
Paul Darcy
Jan 09, 2012 Paul Darcy rated it really liked it
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
...more
Mike
Sep 22, 2015 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
David
Mar 12, 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
...more
Clark Hallman
Sep 15, 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
Glen Robinson
Nov 19, 2015 Glen Robinson rated it it was amazing
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
Cupof Tea
Feb 28, 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

T
...more
Ethan
Aug 24, 2014 Ethan rated it it was ok
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
Jim
Aug 17, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2014 Oscar rated it did not like it
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
Coan
Nov 11, 2015 Coan rated it really liked it
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
...more
Karin
Aug 29, 2015 Karin rated it liked it
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
...more
Caren
Jun 20, 2011 Caren rated it it was amazing
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!
Kammera
Oct 11, 2015 Kammera rated it really liked it
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
Philip
Jan 26, 2015 Philip rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Aug 07, 2011 Andreas rated it it was ok
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
Apr 09, 2013 Craig rated it really liked it
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
Jul 08, 2013 Chris Chivers rated it liked it
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
Jul 23, 2010 Scott rated it liked it
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
...more
Dawson
Apr 23, 2013 Dawson rated it really liked it
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
...more
Kálmán Bálint
Jun 02, 2015 Kálmán Bálint rated it really liked it
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
Feb 25, 2009 Arkham rated it liked it
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 it was ok  ·  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
Nathaniel
Oct 06, 2014 Nathaniel rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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
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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 43 Sep 05, 2014 11:54AM  
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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)
  • Deepsix (The Academy, #2)
  • Chindi (The Academy, #3)
  • Omega (The Academy, #4)
  • Odyssey (The Academy, #5)
  • Cauldron (The Academy, #6)
  • Starhawk (The Academy, #7)

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