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Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
9
The Engines of God (Academy - Book 1)
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on 25 August 2017
I first read this well over 10 years ago and it holds up pretty well for a book nearing a quarter century old. The story is a little clumsy in places but the main characters are likeable enough with some intrigue, some emergencies and some surprising little twists along the way. the overall read is fun and satisfying.
Deepsix is the next in the Hutch series and is a better story in my opinion.
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on 24 May 2015
Imaginative and well written with good characterization. Strong plot lines, and a great take on future archaeology. Will now read the next in the series!
One person found this helpful
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on 11 August 2017
As advertised, arrived on time.
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on 7 September 2013
Lots of interesting ideas interspersed with rather irritating action sequences where various protagonists act stupidly and occasionally die. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the read, and it was a page-turner in terms of finding out the answer to the central puzzle.
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on 28 September 2017
McDevitt is excellent at writing about interstellar archaeology. He goes into enough scientific detail to make the story interesting and believable but doesn't go overboard on indepth technicalities. The story is a good one, and even though it's been around for a while now, it still holds up well, although there are one or two definite 'dips' in storyline and pace. However, it's fast paced and draws you along. If you like things like Rendezvous with Rama and anything by James P Hogan, this will be right up your street.
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on 12 February 2014
As I've said in other reviews I like Jack McDevitt - though I can see why some people don't. I really like the world he has built, where technology has matured to the point where space travel is mundane - even boring - and where people wander about alien planets and airless moons dressed in their shorts and t-shirts (and a high tech bodyhugging shield).

The story itself is a mixture of a mystery thriller and an archaeology story. The central conceit (of weird works of art and inexplicable structures scattered throughout the galaxy by a long dead mysterious alien race) is to me fascinating. I think it's the very mundanity and straight-forwardness of his future world contrasting with the mind-expanding ideas of deep history and the future of the Human species that keeps me hooked, and keeps me reading book after book.

On the other hand his stories can be very formulaic. If this is your first book you proabbly won't mind but by later novels you might find yourself (like me) getting very frustrated by just how stupid and naive his supposedly experienced characters can be at times.

But forget that for the meantime! Read this and just enjoy the ride.
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on 7 September 2014
A very enjoyable book in the hard science fiction category. I loved the archaeology aspect of it which provided a mystery to the whole story and kept me intrigued. I liked the monument-makers and the fascinating story of the collapse and regrowth of their civilisation. I also loved the characters with their individual histories and especially the occasional emotional connections. One thing which stood out was the beauty and alieness of the monument makers, their wonderful organic telescope. An excellent novel.
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on 8 December 2014
One of Mcdevitt's best. I really enjoyed it. Loved the ancient mystery at the heart of the novel and his ending felt just right. As with many of McDevitt's works his future feels homely and not too far removed from today. It makes for an easy read and is excellent for new readers of SF.

Recommended.
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on 13 September 2014
I was shocked by this book. I spent the first half expecting something dramatic to happen that would avert the catastrophe that occurs about midway through, but nothing did.

A group of archaeologists struggle against the clock to retrieve some artifacts, while their fellow man gets ready to deploy a standard doomsday terraforming weapon on an already living world.

The group of protagonists are portrayed as petty and ignorant. Their concern is only for dead relics and clues to a more advanced civilisation and at no point throughout their misadventures do any of them step back to consider the living, near-sentient beings thriving around them, who are all about to be summarily wiped out by nuclear weapons and earthquakes/tsunamis.

The book clearly shows that some of the animals on the planet are at least at ape-level development, if not higher, and yet the only acknowledgement of the ultimate horror the humans in the story deal out to the alien world is a fragment of a sentence regarding how "Moralists" objected to the terraforming plan on the grounds of harming the planet's existing environment. That's really all there is - one line in the entire book.

Earth's own atmosphere is in a tailspin. Big deal. That doesn't give anyone the right to just mimic a virus and spread out to another planet by firstly annihilating all its current life. Humanity is painted as utterly barbaric, the protagnists appear to be completely fine with this fact, and at no point in the story is there any sense that the author believes the terraforming project is a bad thing.

I couldn't even begin to try liking the main characters - their focus solely on ancient relics as somehow more important than living creatures just made them appear despicable throughout, and a hoped-for intervention by higher alien powers simply doesn't materialise. I have no idea what this story was trying to say, except "who cares about life on other planets". The irony of a team mourning over a dead race and collecting their long lost possessions, while caring nothing for the fate of every single other species that was still alive on the same planet, was monumental.

I threw the book away in disgust.
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