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The God Engines

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  4,838 Ratings  ·  559 Reviews
Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this -- and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given. Tephe knows from the start that his mission will be a test of his skill as a leader of men and as a ...more
Hardcover, 400 signed numbered copies, 136 pages
Published December 2009 by Subterranean Press
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Jan 27, 2015 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, this was a good book.

I've known about this book for quite some time, I've even owned a copy for years. But it wasn't until today that I actually took a crack at it.

I've been enjoying novellas and short novels a lot lately. Bite sized audio books are easier on my brain when I'm trying to get serious writing done. Though this audio bookwas only 3 hours long, I was hoping it would last me a couple of days as I listened to it in bits and pieces while I cooked, puttered around the house,
Dan Schwent
Dec 14, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing
"It was time to whip the god." Thus begins The God Engines by John Scalzi.

Captain Tephe is ordered to humanity's homeworld, Bishop's Call, and tasked to bring the faith of Our Lord to a faithless world. But will his own fate be tested?

That's about as much summary as I can give without giving away too much of the plot. The universe John Scalzi creates in The God Engines is like no others. Humanity travels the stars in ships powered by imprisoned and tortured gods, ruled by the one god that conque
Richard Derus
Jan 20, 2012 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jude!
Recommended to Richard by: Schwent and/or Sullivan
Rating: 4.5 horrified, terrified, vindicated stars of five

The Book Report: The Power of God...the Power of Faith...these are concrete, actual things, not powerless mouthings, in John Scalzi's 136-page gut-punch and goolie-kick of a novella. Captain Ean Tephe, commanding the Righteous, is fresh from a stinging defeat (in his mind) that, in the view of his superiors, is a victory so signal that he's summoned to HQ and given the most astonishing order: Go to a planet of those who have not heard of
I really like John Scalzi's books. Although they aren't great literature, they have been reliably entertaining. So, I was delighted to find a copy of The God Engines at my public library. From the get-go, I didn't like this novella at all. At 130-odd pages, including pictures and blank pages, I should have been able to blast through it in a day--maybe two given the busy holiday season. I didn't like the tone or the setting of the novel. I thought the characters were too flat. It lacked Scalzi's ...more
May 06, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
I love John Scalzi and this may be the best thing I ever read from him. Extremely dark and combining elements of both science fiction and fantasy, Scalzi has created a completely unique universe in which shackled gods and religious fanatics battle it out. That is, until they realize that there is something far worse than either of them waiting to devour them, quite literally. I didn't know JS could write this dark, but I hope he creates additional stories in this universe.
6.0 stars. This story was AMAZING and has immediately jumped onto my list of "All Time Favorite" stories. For fans of John Scalzi's other work, of which I include myself, this is a significant departure in so far as this is a much darker story. The opening line of the novella really sets the tone for the whole story ("It was time to whip to god"), and I was taken in by it and read it basically in a single sitting (not tough as it is only 136 pages).

I won't give a detailed synopsis as the book d
Kat  Hooper
Jan 11, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Ean Tephe, captain of the Righteous, is a man of great faith. In fact, it’s the faith of Tephe and his crew that keeps Righteous running — it gives power to their god, enabling him to enslave the captured god which powers the spaceship. Somehow, the “defiled” god, like all the conquered gods that run the spaceships in Tephe’s land, are able to swallow light-years of space to transport their crews wherever they need to go. When Captain Tephe and his crew ar
Ben Babcock
The God Engines opens with what, along with the opening line of JPod, is now one of my favourite first lines: "It was time to whip the god."

Immediately, John Scalzi establishes a sense of difference between our universe and the one in which this book is set. In this universe, monolatrism is the order of the day. Captain Tephe and the crew of the Righteous worship a god, conveniently called "Our Lord." Captured gods serve as engines for their starships; bound by iron, the gods warp space-time to
Gamma Mouse
Apr 14, 2010 Gamma Mouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite things about John Scalzi’s books is that the man is funny. Along the lines of I-barfed-a-pink-gelatinous-quivering-lung-out kind of funny, which is an incredibly hard thing to accomplish when you are dealing with only the written word. His signature mixture of humor and space opera have always made for entertaining and vastly enjoyable reads. (Especially if killing someone with your flatulence is your idea of high comedy.)

But my absolute favorite John Scalzi scene is the first
Kater Cheek
May 18, 2010 Kater Cheek rated it it was amazing
My last book was a one star review that I recommended. This is a five star review that I'm not sure if I recommend or not. It's not a long book, more like a long short story, barely even a novella. It has a short story sensibilities; unnecessary scenes have been cut out, and the prose is quite spare.

The story is one of a space-faring race who have achieved interstellar travel by using imprisoned gods to power their ships. The people themselves worship a different god, who has conquered most of t
Mar 07, 2016 Gertie rated it it was ok
What a strange one. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started, but I did expect a slightly more appealing main character. This story starts off with 2 stars and ends with 4 - around the 2/3 mark it gets suddenly much more interesting.

The concept of using "gods" for engines is a pretty fascinating one; I think what let me down most about this book is that it could have gone in so many much more interesting and appealing directions. Would love to see another author's spin on this one.
Jamie Collins
An interesting little novella - I'd call it fantasy rather than science fiction. The story centers on the captain of a spaceship which is powered by an enslaved god, set in a universe where religious faith has literal, tangible power. Particularly intriguing was the concept of the differing potency of first-made, second-made and third-made faith.

I was slightly unsatisfied by the ending. I wanted this to be longer, but then I’m not a great fan of short-format fiction.
Apr 05, 2014 JW rated it did not like it
Just how much did I hate this book? I really want to spoil it to save you from trudging through it. It's really, really bad. The writing is flat, the characters mathematically one dimensional and the story... The ending.... It's got to be some kind of Author Tract, or sourced from a bad dream.

Just don't read this book. Read Old Man's War. Hell, read Agent to the Stars. Skip this awful misfire.
Oct 30, 2014 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: 2fiction, fantasy, 1ebook
More of a 2.5. Definitely not typical of Scalzi's other work I've read. I thought it was going to be SF, but it's a chilling, almost Lovecraftian fantasy with space ships. I guess he was trying to explore faith & commitment, but it really wasn't long enough for that.. Not sure it did, but it certainly had a great message about how education & information can manipulate people.
Apr 08, 2012 Jakob rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, scifi, horror
Really well written and very dark. The story itself is enthralling and manages to have some Lovecraftian moments that make the goosebumps come alive on your skin. It seems to me that Scalzi is in his story trying to make some remarks about religion and clergy as corrupt as well as faith as a crutch and a hindrance to progress. If that is a correct assumption then his efforts fall fairly flat to one degree or another. One problem is that by having the gods be these real, powerful and capricious a ...more
Mar 31, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it
The range of reviews for this story is amazing. Some people were utterly surprised, others underwhelmed and claiming to have guessed every twist and turn... For me, the story makes perfect sense and each element connects, but I was still a little surprised by where Scalzi took it. I was impressed at the ambiguity about Shalle: I saw Shalle initially as male and then as an androgyne, where most people saw Shalle as female. I really liked that.

It's an interesting concept, and bravely executed -- i
Oct 31, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
Apparently Scalzi's first attempt at a fantasy novel. It still feels a bit sf--the characters fly in spaceships to distant worlds. But the spaceships are powered by the torture of gods.

Generations ago, the One True God rose to power. Ever since, the remaining gods have been enslaved by the True God's followers to power their technology. But pockets of resistance remain...

Scalzi manages to pack a great deal into 136 pages--I felt like I knew the captain and his society well, and I was interested
Jan 03, 2012 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
3 Stars

First, I am a fan of John Scalzi and I look forward to reading more of his works. Second, I am not really into short stories, and it is rare that a novella has enough to satiate me. That being said, this novella is filled with so much could have been, and would have been awesome points to it that it really found it to be wanting.

Lastly, this book has some truly original horror and science fiction points and scenes. The mad god was down right scary. The world building was remarkably good f
Sep 01, 2016 Zula rated it really liked it
O povestire ceva mai lunga.
Undeva in viitor... sau in trecut... zeii sunt tinuti in lanturi (biciuiti uneori) pentru a propulsa navele spatiale ale drept-credinciosilor. Ar trebui sa fie suficient ca sa fiti curiosi, nu?

Initial am crezut ca Scalzi o transforme povestea intr-o alta "geneza" a religiei umane. Dar n-a facut asta. Spre sfarsit zeii par a fi imprumutati din universul lui Lovecraft.

Povestirea e suficient de complicata ca sa iti mentina interesul (si mai ales curiozitatea) pana la sfar
Joel Neff
Jul 22, 2016 Joel Neff rated it liked it
Scalzi is one of the premiere sci-fi writers working today. And for good reason - his books are light, easy-to-read, clever, and full of believable, interesting characters.

Having said that, this book didn’t quite work for me. It was recognizably Scalzi and the characters, most notably the lead, Ephe, were enjoyable to read about. The premise, a world where faith is discernible and its use wields tangible results, is thought provoking.

But. I found the action a little thin, and the society built a
A dark, unpleasant commentary on religion and faith. If the critiques had been presented with less agenda and more story, they may have carried more power. I'm not opposed to being made uncomfortable in my reading, but the arm's-length characters gave no agency to the theme. That, and I'm completely over the trope of including female characters on a crew only to 'service' the men, and it doesn't solve the problem (nor is it original) to have them be elevated or deemed mystical. Casting one of th ...more
...The idea behind The God Engines is intriguing but in the end the novella didn't work for me. Parts could certainly have used a bit more subtlety and the story as a whole could have done with some more words to mature. The main character never really convinced me. I guess I'm not surprised that it didn't win those awards it was nominated for. I understand it is a bit of a departure from Scalzi's other works, which tend to be science fiction of the military kind. Perhaps one of those would work ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Moira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
16.3.2015 - 4,5*
Oh my. Tohle bylo... nečekané. Děsivé. Úžasné. Brutální.
Myšlenka, o které jsem nikdy nečetla, zpracování skvělé, děj napínavý, nečekaný, překvapivý. Styl psaní realistický a ve své podstatě nekompromisně bezcitný.
Zotročení bohové, kteří pohánějí vesmírné lodě.
Boj za jediného boha. Jejich boha.
Postavy měly tak málo prostoru, a přesto byly vystiženy úžasně.
Všechny ty drobné detaily, které dělaly příběh tak dobrým.
A ten konec... oh my, ten konec.
(Zmínila jsem, že jsou k tomu navíc n
May 08, 2011 Lightreads rated it it was ok
A science-fantasy novella about spaceships powered by gods, who are in turn powered by the crew’s faith. I feel utterly neutral about this – it was an interesting idea executed competently, and complete with follow through, but the circuit never really closed. I understand this is the Scalzi curse: writing which is creative and active, but still somehow inert. Fundamentally shallow. And the trouble with shallow is it has to be my shallow, my vaguely embarrassing id fixations and narrative kinks. ...more
I'd leave this classified as "science fiction," but it's really science fiction/dark fantasy/horror. In this novella, starships are powered by enslaved gods, there's a slightly Lovecraftian vibe to the story, and the ending is something out of a John Carpenter movie.

It's an entertaining, slightly weird page-turner, and I loved the dark fantasy/sci-fi setting right up until the ending, which I found both predictable and a bit rushed.
Timothy Boyd
Nov 03, 2015 Timothy Boyd rated it it was amazing
I just discovered John Scalzi's books in 2014 and was blown away by the first 2 I read. I was lucky enough to find this limited edition volume at a used story and my only complaint is it's to to short. I WANT MORE!!!! Once again a story that sucks me in and keeps me drawn in till the end. I thought I saw the end coming but got a nice surprise. An excellent read again from this author. MY highest recommendation.
Dec 03, 2013 Joel rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-copy
A quick but well developed novella. The subject matter was interesting, though narrative time is spent wandering a bit too much, and the moral dilemmas feel a bit rehashed. Not Scalzi's best work but still a decent read. Very nice Sub Press package though, high quality book with an attractive cover and dust jacket.
Dec 03, 2012 Ron rated it it was ok
Not one of Scalzi's best. Interesting premise, but lacked the usual humor and insight expected of John.
Jan 25, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
First Line: It was time to whip the god.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that, despite being something a genre fanatic, that this is the first John Scalzi book I’ve read. I’ve always had every intention to read Old Man’s War but that intent has never manifested itself into action; this is a fact I’m going to have to remedy. The God Engines is a horror/fantasy novella that happens to take place in space; mostly. Our protagonist, Ean Tephe, captains a spaceship whose main means of FTL propulsion jus
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John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)
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