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The God Engines

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  6,521 ratings  ·  725 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, 136 pages
Published December 2009 by Subterranean Press
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  6,521 ratings  ·  725 reviews

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Jan 27, 2015 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,
Richard Derus
Jan 20, 2012 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 Publisher Says: 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 devout follower of his god. It's what he doesn
Dan Schwent
Apr 15, 2011 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
Heidi The Reader
In the world of The God Engines, beings called gods power the ships that take humanity between the stars. How the world became this way is not for Captain Tephe to question, instead it is a matter of faith. As part of Tephe's service and devotion to his own deity, he has to keep the being that powers his engine in check and subservient to his will.

That is not a simple task.

"I do not know why this is. Why single made iron can kill a god. I know only that it can. I know the gods fear death more th
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
Manuel Antão
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

King's Jester: “The God Engines” by John Scalzi

‘“And then let those ships kill you?” Shalle smiled and kissed Tephe. “You silly man. You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve said. Our lives are Our Lord’s. I’ve made peace with the fact that I am going to die today, Ean. One way or another. This way I get to save you. And the ship and the crew you love. You will live because of me.’

In “The God Engines” by John Scalzi

Great SF is the
Aug 27, 2011 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. ...more
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
Elizabeth Tabler
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"It is time to whip a God," John Scalzi wrote in this Hugo Award-nominated novella, The God Engines. The God Engines, is a lot of things. Dark and cruel, fantasy, horror, and religion all blended in a twisted story of power from a writer customarily known for his charm and humor. But this, this is Scalzi out of his usual comfort zone. There is no charm or humor in this story. This is him reaching into the darker parts of his storytelling ability and bringing forth the cruel and worm filled and s ...more
Kat  Hooper
Jan 06, 2011 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
Peter Tillman
John Scalzi tries something new with this long novella. He calls it dark fantasy, but it's really more science-fantasy -- the action is largely aboard an FTL starship, and the setting is an interstellar religious empire. The title is literally true -- I'm treading lightly here to avoid spoilers. The empire is ruled by the Bishopry Militant, an unsavory theocracy, and the religious supernatural is at the heart of the tale.

"The God Engines" is a story along the lines of Harlan Ellison's "The Death
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.
Kara 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
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm really quite disappointed with this book.
I'm a big Scalzi fan. I appreciate how fun his stories are, how engaging his characters are and how brilliant his dialogue is.
However, this didn't feel like a Scalzi book.
To begin with, the story started off really slow (which is unlike Scalzi and especially detrimental considering its such a short read) and the dialogue sounded really false.

Undeniably the story picked up and was enjoyable at one stage, but it felt like it came to late to save what w
Apr 14, 2010 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
Dec 14, 2011 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
Skylar Phelps
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Really quite a complex and darker novella. I thought it was well done, some of it felt rushed.
Kater Cheek
May 18, 2010 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
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.
Sep 10, 2013 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.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1ebook, fantasy, 2fiction
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. ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Fascinating world building, and the entire story takes a turn about 2/3 of the way through. Great and unexpected ending.
Apr 18, 2011 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 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
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
Feb 18, 2010 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.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This short novella has a lot going for it. It is definitely a space opera, but the twist has a very delicious flavor and I find myself hoping that Mr. Scalzi would continue in this universe. It isn't my normal taste in literature, but it sure fired up my imagination and I'm left wanting so much more food for thought. Thank you! ...more
Michael Campbell
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Short, simply written, yet deeply thought provoking novels tend to strike me the hardest. I really loved this book. I finished in a night shift at my security job and have been thinking about it for days since. I decided to reread an old favorite after finishing it, because I knew I wouldn't be able to focus on anything new.

The plot is fast and doesn't hold your hand, but I never felt lost or that anything was lacking. The concept of the God Engines had me hooked from the word go, and all the ch
Apr 08, 2012 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
Joseph Inzirillo
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow. Just wow. Where do you get these ideas Mr Scalzi? This book is twisted and raw. Horrible and also truthful. The morals here are in your face and also subtle. And the concepts are just mind blowing.

I wish I could spend like and hour learning About Mr Scalzi's creative process.

Just amazing.
short and weird. An interesting mix of of sf and fantasy and horror. I'd have liked it better without the fantasy and horror. 4 of 5. ...more
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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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