Friday, May 20, 2011

My Thoughts So Far: The Engines of God

I'm only a little over a hundred pages into this book, which means that I have about 300 pages left, but I thought that, since I have nothing else to blog about today, I'd give you my first impressions of Jack McDevitt's The Engines of God.

I bought this book at Borders last year after the cover caught my eye. I mean, seriously, it has Saturn on it. What sci-fi geek is going to turn that down? I've never read any of McDevitt's other books, so I'm not familiar with his style. Because of this, I'm not quite sure where this book is going and, rather than excite me, that sort of annoys me.

I'm not saying that I want this book to be somehow formulaic, but I'm having a hard time following what's going on. There's these creatures called the Monument-Makers and they left some sort of crazy monument on one of Saturn's moons and it somehow is connected to a race of people who weren't technologically advanced but have a fake city on their moon even though they never invented space travel and this race of people is now extinct but no one knows why. *deep breath* And now climate change on Earth has gone so far beyond human control that they're trying to terraform this planet that used to house this extinct race of people and there's an archaeological excavation going on and I'm not sure where the main character fits in, especially when there are other more interesting characters. *deep breath* *sigh*

Okay, so now you understand why my head is spinning and why I kept putting the book down yesterday. It's like I have ADD or something. It's not a bad book, nor is it poorly written but if I were familiar with McDevitt's work, perhaps I might be able to parse out what's going on. I could say, "Oh, well, in the next few chapters all of this is going to make sense because McDevitt likes to do X or because usually he tends to follow this pattern, etc."

Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins is the main character but for right now all she seems to do is fly around in a shuttle and ask lots of questions which far more interesting characters answer. I was hoping she'd be some sort of kick-ass Kara "Starbuck" Thrace character but so far that hasn't been the case. In fact, dare I say it, she seems sort of superfluous. Or, at least, it seems that she shouldn't be the main character.

Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica

There are some great characters and some good dialogue so far but the plot is just losing me at every turn. I'm hoping that things start to make sense soon (and that something actually starts to happen) because otherwise I might just put this one aside to read at a later date. I have a backlog of books that I want to get to sometime soon and I'm not above abandoning one for the moment and pressing onward.



  1. It seems common for sci-fi writers to just expect their readers to know what they're going on about. My pet hate is the words they make up and never explain!

  2. Sometimes when it's a concept that's been used in sci-fi before, like FTL (faster than light) technology, then I'm fine with it, because I know what they're talking about. But when they build these worlds with all of these gadgets but don't explain them, that becomes an issue. Even avid sci-fi readers get confused sometimes. How do they except new people to break into the genre?