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The Engines of God

(The Academy #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  7,711 ratings  ·  454 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
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,711 ratings  ·  454 reviews

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Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
McDevitt’s first Priscilla Hutchins novel is a sturdy, nicely paced archeological mystery. Scattered throughout the galaxy are alien relics left behind by beings known only as the Monument Makers, and the secret of their origin may herald a terrifying future disaster for mankind.
Personal relationships are not McDevitt’s forte, as his clumsy handling of Priscilla’s romantic life can attest. Thankfully, the search for the Monument Makers is a fascinating one, and the outcome offers sufficient spec
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a "hard science fiction" novel, with a well-defined plot and set of characters. The best thing this book has going for it, is its focus on archaeology, and the deciphering of clues from ancient alien artifacts. The entire story is a mystery, and even by the end of the book the puzzle is only partially solved. This, of course, allows the author to extend the story into sequels. So, this is the first book of The Academy series.

I especially enjoy science fiction books that contain unique, f
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Xenoarchaeology. On a grand scale.

McDevitt really does a fantastic job with vast worldbuilding and mystery when it comes to dead alien races, exploration, and working through the questions.

I'm particularly fond of all the expeditions. None of them are nuts but quite plausible and dangerous and deadly. And not everyone comes back from them. The realism is very nice.

Fortunately, however, this and the plotting and the focus on discovery is usually good enough to carry the tale over the characters.
Archaeology in space! Archaeology in space!!!

Yup, that topic never fails to get me excited; in my very nerdy defence, that’s what I got my BA in, and while I ended up working in a completely different field, I never lost my enthusiasm for it. So if you tell me there’s a book about archaeologists in space, and you sprinkle some mystery about the lost alien civilization being studied, you check a lot of my “give this book to me now” boxes.

Set in the not-so-distant future (2202), “The Engines of Go
Feb 25, 2009 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 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
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
M Hamed
Dec 28, 2015 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 show us that in the grand scheme of things.all what you hav
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
Peter Tillman
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reread for the first time since God knows when. Very impressive book, better than I recalled. This was the first of the Academy series, and introduced Priscilla Hutchins, starship pilot, who loses two beaux in this book, one to a gruesome (but valorous) battle with alien fauna.

ENGINES gets mixed reviews, here and elsewhere. I liked it a lot. I'm going to borrow a bit from Russ Albery's review of CHINDI (Academy #3):
"One of the tricks that McDevitt uses to great effect is to break the reader's e
Paul Darcy
Jan 09, 2012 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
Scott Firestone
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Mar 03, 2014 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
Jul 07, 2013 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
Kevin Kelsey
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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.
Maggie K
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sffbc-tbr, monopoly
I enjoyed this book so much. A thoughtful lead-in to a very different type of problem.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Glen Robinson
Nov 19, 2015 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
Clark Hallman
Jul 08, 2013 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 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 07, 2011 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
Aug 17, 2009 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
Aug 18, 2015 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
Cupof Tea
Feb 14, 2016 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
Feb 19, 2009 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
Jun 20, 2011 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!
Dana Stabenow
May 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Somewhere in here is a page-turner struggling to get out. Needed an editor.
Lianne Pheno
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ce livre, qui est un mélange entre un Space-Opera et de l'archéologie extraterrestre, est certes un peu lent à certains moment mais a vraiment su capter mon attention de par un mystère bien mené, une excellente lecture.

La vie devient de plus en plus difficile sur Terre, le changement climatique c'est beaucoup accéléré et il n'y a plus beaucoup d'espoirs. L'avenir de l'humanité passe donc par la terraformation de planètes. Mais contrairement à ce qu'on pour
Katie Whitt
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I once told someone that I didn't really like to read sci-fi space books, but in reality I've found that I find spaceship stories strangely comforting. This one was no exception-and as an added bonus it has lots of archaeological and alien mysteries thrown in. The characterizations are fairly weak, there were so many people introduced and we'd get random snippets of backstory but no one really stayed in my mind. It's not really important though since I mostly read sci-fi for the ideas contained ...more
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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

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 (The Academy, #8)
“Show me what a people admire, and I will tell you everything about them that matters.” 5 likes
“Carson recordó la vieja historia del siglo XX del cosmonauta que se quedó desamparado en el espacio cuando la Unión Soviética se disolvió: se encontraba dando vueltas a la Tierra cuando, de repente, el país que lo había llevado hasta allá arriba dejó de existir.” 1 likes
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