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The God Engines by John Scalzi
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The God Engines (edition 2009)

by John Scalzi

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5413718,550 (3.5)30
Member:TomWaitsTables
Title:The God Engines
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Subterranean (2009), Edition: Trade Hardcover, Hardcover, 136 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, Religion, Fiction

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The God Engines by John Scalzi

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English (36)  French (1)  English (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This is a quick read by one of my favorite contemporary science fiction writers, but it’s not science fiction. It’s a space fantasy. At only 136 pages in hard cover, it can be easily read on a rainy afternoon, which is what I did. It is set in a universe in which gods have replaced science. Things people once did for themselves using technology have become the purview of gods. If you want to communicate across distances (like radio), you pray for it to happen. If you wish to travel to another planet, you compel a god imprisoned by your god to move your starship. Everything on the starships, communication, life support, engines... is god-powered. Nothing happens without the direct intervention of some god, and they are not doing it to be magnanimous. The gods do not serve man. Man serves them in their competition with other gods for believers and the faith that gives them power.
This book differs much from everything else I’ve read by John Scalzi. In addition to being fantasy rather than science fiction, it’s darker. The characters lack the ineffable charm that I’ve come to expect from Scalzi’s creations and there are few if any smiles invoked by the book. It includes a fairly detailed sex scene and graphic violence. I imagine it is intended as a social commentary but I can’t say the message it is trying to convey was clear to me.
I thoroughly enjoyed many of Scalzi’s other works including his ‘Old Man Goes to War’ series and ‘Fuzzy Nation.’ I’ve ordered ‘Redshirts’ and eagerly await its arrival. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed this particular story much, but the setting and characters were interesting, and the art between the chapters of the hard cover edition are a nice addition. It kept me reading, but I much prefer Scalzi’s science fiction.
( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
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 in his odd relationship with his ship's enslaved god. I think if this book had been longer the twist at the end would have felt even more like a gut-punch, but as it was, it still left me nearly breathless. Definitely worth a read. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showcasing a very different side of Scalzi, there is no comedy in this short science fiction tale filled with hints of fantasy. On a ship powered by a chained and tortured god, in an empire controlled by a god who subjugates and harms other gods, something is finally beginning to change. Gods in the ships are becoming more volatile, threatening, and the captain whom this tale focuses around, though certain he is strong in his faith, is about to discover the horrible secrets which have been wiped from his people’s past, the truth about his god, and the plans that the god powering his ship works to bring to fruition. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
The God Engines is entertaining because of its strong characters and shifting conflicts. The first pages introduce Tephe (the ship's captain) arguing with Andso (the ship's priest), who manages the ship's engine (a captive god). The god doesn't like being captive, so he's been killing people, and Tephe doesn't trust Andso to do his job, so Tephe disciplines the god himself. Since I saw Tephe immediately taking charge and putting down rebellion from both the god and the priest, I wanted to read more about him.

Other characters enter: Tephe's female confidant (head of the ship's sex therapists), the Bishops of Tephe's church, and Tephe's God Himself. The Bishops send Tephe to a hidden planet to evangelize the natives, promising that Tephe will be promoted to a desk job after he gets back. Tephe, however, would prefer to keep his ship.

In a very short time, the relationships among these six characters shift through submission, subversion, alliance, and dominance. The shifts are believable and never feel rushed. It all ends with a deus ex machina, but what better way to end a story called The God Engines? ( )
  CarsonKicklighter | Jan 26, 2015 |
Fascinating and terrifying. The follies of faith, the minefield that is a desire (and in this 'verse, a necessity) to believe. A bonus is the exquisite artwork by Vincent Chong. ( )
  CaineBooks | Dec 28, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cong, VincentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Doselle Young
And gratefully acknowledging the efforts of
Bill Schafer, Yanni Kuznia, Tim Holt, Gail Cross,
Vincent Chong, and Cherie Priest
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It was time to whip the god.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A novella of dark fantasy.
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Devoted to the Bishopry Militant and to his crew, ship captain Ean Tephe is given a secret mission to a hidden land.

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