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't know that matters: to what ends his faith and his ship will ultimately be put - and that the tests he will face will come not only from his god and the Bishopry Militant, but from another, more malevolent source entirely....
Author John Scalzi has ascended to the top ranks of modern science fiction with the best-selling, Hugo-nominated novels Old Man's War and Zoe's Tale. Now he tries his hand at fantasy, with a dark and different novella that takes your expectations of what fantasy is and does, and sends them tumbling.
Say your prayers... and behold The God Engines.
©2010 John Scalzi (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Gamer, reader, wife.
Set in a world where man had flown to the stars on the backs of gods rather then science this short delivers a very detailed world and belief system. Scalzi has a unusual mind and this wonderful tale about belief and faith showcase it!
Kind of wish this was a much longer story.
"Original Concept, Somber Tone"
If John Scalzi can be credited with anything, it is coming up with original concepts in modern science fiction writing. This book is almost as good as his thoroughly entertaining and hilarious Redshirts. Instead of the mild dark humor of Redshirts, The God Engines removes all of the humor and cranks the darkness all the way up to 11. The tone is really gloomy, which I found to be a nice change of pace in genre that tends to lean towards the optimistic end of the spectrum.
The book takes place on an interstellar ship that is literally powered by a "god". There is a physical humanoid god inside the ship which powers the engines. The catch is, this god is an unwilling participant and only powers the ship under the threat of torture and death. It's unclear if it's an actual god, or merely a being of extraordinary power. However, there are other gods, and the people on this ship worship a different god who is at war with all other gods.
The society on the ship is a fascinating draconian mix of military and religious hierarchy. The highest ranking official on the ship is the Captain, the second highest is the Priest ... they don't get along. (The reader narrates them perfectly, he reads their lines in a matter of fact, almost curt tone, just the way I think people like that would talk.)
I won't give anything away about the ending. Many other reviewers have lots to say about the ending (too much in my opinion, I think many are inadvertently giving away what happens). All I have to say is that I think the ending is reasonably well written, but perhaps a bit abrupt.
"I love Scalzi's writing but not this book"
The reader is good but the book has a depressing and cynical ending. I have read most of Scalzi's other works and several have been excellent--wonderful characters, funny and sometime hilarious dialog, good story development and good endings for those of us that like morality tales. Not so this book. Some good ideas but a disappointing story. However, I realize that some readers/listeners might like the book. Just be prepared for a black black conclusion.
"8TH BELL OF THE DOGS"
I am a huge fan of Scalzi. I knew ahead of time this would be dark. I did not know how political and down right boring it would be. Yea, I understand the whole Gods are engines thing and it is not the first time telepathy has been part of space travel. The Guildsman of Dune are probably the best known. I know reviewers don't want to be negative, but this is my money we are talking about.
"This is the elevator music of this genre"
I'm glad I listened to this in that it shows a darker side of Scalzi that rarely shows in his other works. I felt the story just didn't stand out. I believe the premise could be a great byline to a bigger more epic tale. It's as if we learned all about only one aspect of a potentially fascinating world. Throw open the curtain Scalzi.
Besides what I've already stated I was not fond of where this story left off.
Acceptable, articulate, and like-able
Yes, I would. This book would need a lot more substance to make it a film and I would wonder how Hollywood might accomplish it.
I have enjoyed several of Scalzi's books and consider them very light reading. This one is kinda the exception in that he goes a bit H. P. Lovecraft on his readers.
I would recommend starting with Android's dream or old man's war.
"the humour is way, way under the surface"
not your usual scalzi (well the ones i've consumed on audible anyway), however i did detect him smiling away behind the scenes.
i agree with others here, this universe should be explored, christopher baby does a good job of bringing the characters to light in this dark, smelly world.
all in all i enjoyed this, not his usual rumpole meets the games, more a serious dark drama which places the toe into religion.
The characters are nicely developed, drawing the reader into this very alternate world where gods are used essentially as a source of power. I would have liked to see where this story could have gone in a longer work. Darker than other Scalzi stories.
"I can't wait for more from this universe"
This is what I buy sci-fi for: a great story with great characters that takes me places I would not normally know. This is what I buy Audible books for: incredible narrations with high production value.
This book has both. And if you've never listened to a Christopher Lane narration, this is a phenomenal introduction to a master voice actor.
I guarantee you won't see the premise coming - it's an extraordinary idea. I listened twice in one weekend.
It's a relatively short work - but the universe is built here and the story is amazing. Yep. I'm gushing. This is a great beginning to what I hope will be a longer book in a series.
"Good Story, Characters & Narration"
I am generally dubious about authors, even good ones like Scalzi, crossing over genres. Most fail utterly. I was surprised to find I liked The God Engines a lot. The premise is wild but interesting, the characters are very good, the story has twists and turns and the narration was pleasant. There is a spectrum of fantasy from Alice in Wonderland that does not have to follow rules, to strict fantasy worlds having very firm rules (but some rules involve magic). This is firmly in the second camp and is thus is a lot like Sci Fi. I quickly got into the idea of levels of gods using magic to guide star-ships from planet to planet and navigators using prayer to interact with their equipment. Most of the characters were deep enough to be interesting and once the story gets going I was sorry it ended so soon. This one has a satisfying ending, but is also a cliff hanger that could be continued. I will read the next installment if there is one.
"any significantly advanced piece of tech"
I can't fathom how John Scalzi wrote this story. His narrative is usually so light and fluffy, sometimes tear jerking (in the awe shucks sort of way). This is dark, twisted, imaginative, and so depressingly sad. Any god that needs my praise and worship, does not deserve it.
I really enjoyed the universe the story was set in and the characters, but the way the story ended.... it just felt like something was lacking/missing.
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