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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
The Engines Of God

Copyright 1994 by Jack McDevitt

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Superb (4/5)

I first read this in March 1996.

It's just over two hundred years in the future. Humanity is exploring other star systems and is about to commence the first terraforming on the planet Quraqua. Strange and massive alien artifacts, monuments, have been found in our solar system, and in other systems.

Indeed Quraqua itself was host to a civilisation at one time and archeologists struggle to rescue what artifacts and knowledge they can before the terraforming starts.

One thing has become clear from explorations on Quraqua and the planets: there may not be anyone out there any longer - civilisations grow and blossom, but seem to last only a few thousand years.

Priscilla Hutchins is a space pilot contracted to the World Academy For Science And Technology. She flies scientists to these archeological sites and now shares their thirst to know who these Monument Makers were, why they chose to leave such magnificent structures scattered so far and wide across our galaxy, and why they died.

As the clues accumulate and the startling truth begins to become clear, she's part of the team that are risking their lives to find the engines of God.

This is a great book. It's classic SF with a complex but tight plot and an excellent set of characters: Richard Wald, Maggie Tufu, Janet Allegri, George Hackett, Frank Carson and Henry Jaconi and, of course, Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins. McDevitt develops both the plot and the characters in interesting directions. The plot starts as an academic mystery, includes some very tense and exciting episodes and ends up with exhilarating and rather large-scale action.

McDevitt has managed to imbue this novel with a sense of vast space and time, and also with a sense of vast loss as civilisations rise and fall.

There's even a nice little haiku in there as well:

I have walked upon the stars
And sailed the channels of night
To sip tea with you

Surprisingly I seem to like this book more each time I read it.

What's it got? Archaeology, aliens, advanced civilisations, FTL travel, Flickinger fields and formaldehyde.

Loaded on the 2nd June 2002.
    
Cover of The Engines Of God
Cover by Bob Eggleton

Reviews of other work by Jack McDevitt
A Talent For War
Eternity Road
Infinity Beach
Deepsix
Seeker