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The God Engines

The God Engines

Written by John Scalzi

Narrated by Christopher Lane


The God Engines

Written by John Scalzi

Narrated by Christopher Lane

ratings:
4/5 (78 ratings)
Length:
3 hours
Released:
Dec 15, 2010
ISBN:
9781441890832
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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 bestselling, 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.

Released:
Dec 15, 2010
ISBN:
9781441890832
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

John Scalzi is one of the most popular and acclaimed SF authors to emerge in the last decade. His debut, Old Man's War, won him science fiction's John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation, Lock In, and also Redshirts, which won 2013's Hugo Award for Best Novel. Material from his widely read blog Whatever has also earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.


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4.1
78 ratings / 30 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    This is a dark fantasy novel and I liked the concept for the novella. A highly entertaining read about Gods and humanity.
  • (3/5)
    This is a real departure for Scalzi, extremely dark fantasy bordering on horror. Ean Tephe is captain of the Righteous, a space-faring ship whose "engine" is a defeated and imprisoned god. Tephe's own god is the powerful figure who conquered all the lesser gods who now serve as engines in his fleet. That Lord God is sustained, literally fed by the faith of his followers--and something is going wrong. The defeated gods are getting restless, attempting to rebel, and threatening the faith of the Lord God's followers.

    But he has a plan...

    Tephe is genuinely a man of strong faith, and a good, responsible captain of his ship, loyal to his crew as well as his God.

    What happens when they come into conflict?

    This novella goes to some very dark places, and Scalzi's usual humor and light touch, which would be inappropriate here, are completely absent. Tephe is a well-developed character, but while his relationship with the rook Shalle is developed, Shalle is not quite so well developed. Also, sorry, the thing where you never, ever identify the gender of a particular character has been done, many times before, including at least once by Scalzi. It's no longer a particularly clever trick, and I don't think it added anything here.

    While there are some interesting concepts here, and Scalzi never writes badly, there just isn't enough development and background here, and while I do somewhat care about Tephe and his friends, I could not possibly care less about what happens to their society--and that matters, if we're to care what happens in this story. It isn't even, as some have argued, an interesting discussion of religion, because what exists in Tephe's society has little to do with what we call faith and religion in our own world. Tephe's god is all to real and physical. Believing in him is rather like believing in the baseball that just hit you in the head; no faith is involved.

    Very likely I'm being a bit harsh. As I said, I don't like horror, and I wouldn't have read this if it weren't by John Scalzi. I have long since learned that starting a book does not create an obligation to finish it.

    Nevertheless, not recommended.

    I bought this book.
  • (5/5)
    In this novella, Scalzi manages to quickly bring to a life a world where gods use humans to fight for them, and the fallen gods power starships. It manages quite a few twists and turns in its short span and I would happily read more stories set in the same universe.
  • (4/5)
    The range of reviews for this story is amazing. Some people were utterly surprised, others underwhelmed and claiming to have guessed every twist and turn... For me, the story makes perfect sense and each element connects, but I was still a little surprised by where Scalzi took it. I was impressed at the ambiguity about Shalle: I saw Shalle initially as male and then as an androgyne, where most people saw Shalle as female. I really liked that.It's an interesting concept, and bravely executed -- it would be horribly easy to go with the urge for a predictable end, in which everyone lives and somehow everything turns out okay. I was even hoping for it, for Shalle to live, for Shalle somehow not to be wrong.I like that we ended with ambiguity, too, that I don't think there's any confirmation which 'side' we should be on in the final conflict.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting read with haunting illustrations, this is a dark novella that has some striking scenes and language. With powerful writing and characterizations, Scalzi's work comes together into a quick and multi-leveled read that provides both entertainment and thought based off of a fascinating concept. For this reader, the work does move a bit too fast, but that's my primary complaint: simply, I wanted more from the characters and the narrative because I felt like it was worth more time and concern. The depth of thought was here to back up a fuller commitment, but it ended up feeling less thought out than it might have because of the small rushed package. Still, for science fiction fans, I'd definately recommend this work, and I may very well reread it myself. Certainly, I'll look out for more of Scalzi's work--the concept here was amazing, and again, I can't say enough for the illustrations by Vincent Chong that brought this work to another level entirely.
  • (5/5)
    The God Engines is an amazing short novella. I read this a few days ago and was rather stunned. Then, like a penitent with a need to scourge myself I read it again. This is science fiction, horror and fantasy all in one small package. It is a dark story that may offend some. No, actually, I am sure it will offend some people. Scalzi's imagination knocked this one out of the park. How do people dream up stories like this? Imagine a future civilization so devout in the worship, faith and belief in their God that they have the power to subdue and torture other gods, and the power of these subdued gods is used to drive their starships across the universe and spread their own true religion. This is only part of the story however.It may take only two or three hours to read this but it will haunt you for many hours more. It begins with one of the best opening lines I have read in years ... "It was time to whip the god." Subterranean Press books seem overly prone to typo/typesetter/editor errors and this one is no exception. They make beautiful books (the cover on this is stunning) but seem to mess up the proofreading time and again. The first paragraph of this book is simply awkward and I think that may be the author at work however.This is a book about Faith. John Scalzi is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors.
  • (5/5)
    Rating: 4.5 horrified, terrified, vindicated stars of fiveThe Book Report: The Power of God...the Power of Faith...these are concrete, actual things, not powerless mouthings, in John Scalzi's 136-page gut-punch and goolie-kick of a novella. Captain Ean Tephe, commanding the Righteous, is fresh from a stinging defeat (in his mind) that, in the view of his superiors, is a victory so signal that he's summoned to HQ and given the most astonishing order: Go to a planet of those who have not heard of Our Lord, convert them, and offer the nourishment of their worship to Our Lord in this difficult war we're waging against the gods whose brother-gods are enslaved as the star drives of the Faithful.He does. The scene that follows is so revolting, so truly disturbing, and so exactly what I believe to be the case regarding religion, that I wasn't at all sure which of my equally strong emotional responses to give pride of place to.The last words on p136 are: "Pray," he said.Excellent advice. Won't help, but it's still excellent advice.My Review: It took about three hours for this book to enthrall, fascinate, frighten, and disgust me. I'm left, here at the end of the experience, wondering what is to become of me now. How will I find a story that will help me feel clean and whole in my bruised and abused mind again? What balm can be applied to a beaten psyche? I was never the most chirpily sanguine of men, I truly always believed that humanity was made up of scum, pond scum, and scum-sucking pond scum, then below that conservatives.And now that seems the most giddily upbeat and Pollyanna-ish codswallop. Scalzi has stared unflinchingly into the black heart of reality, the place that Lovecraft was scared to go, and brought back this eyewitness account.Lift your snouts from the trough, humans! This is exactly where you're headed if you don't side-step now!How lonely John Scalzi must be, having that one eye in this kingdom of the blind.
  • (3/5)
    Well written and interesting. I very much enjoyed the set up of the universe this takes place in, and I enjoyed the way gods were both reduced to servants of man subjugating them to serve as everything from the basis of technology and space travel, and that men were in fact pawns of another god who used them to keep the other gods subjugated. The characters were the strongest part of the book, well rounded and dynamic.As much as I enjoyed the book, I was disappointed at the end. It felt quickly ended and I was left with the feeling of a great set up and not much resolution.
  • (4/5)
    Easy and quick, good read. Nothing exceptional, but a nice afternoon lecture - full of atheism, criticism of religious believes.
  • (5/5)
    "The God Engines" is dark, heavy, and richly textured beneath a gauze of foreboding. John Scalzi's novella is a severe departure from the tone and wit of his popular "Old Man's War" series. But it's equally as awesome.The title is quite literal. Superhuman god-like beings are the engines that drive human interstellar travel. While they have the power to move humans and ships across enormous amounts of space, their powers are much more vast. The story moves at a rapid pace, and the characters are well drawn despite the books' length. The universe of "The God Engines" is creatively conceived.Scalzi's story, which sits somewhere between scifi and fantasy, takes an compelling look at religion, faith and what they can really mean to individuals and societies. The foundation of characters are military, like much of Scalzi's "Old Man's War", but this military and this universe is much more frightening.Everything is drawn with muted colors. Scalzi's writing is very clear, and always crisp, but one can't help but feel a little suffocated in reading this story. Scalzi is also a master at forwarding a plot through well-worded and well-timed dialogue.This is not your father's John Scalzi. And this is very good.
  • (4/5)
    This is a dark fantasy that happens to be set in space. It's currently in the running for a Hugo (Best Novella 2010), and in my opinion it's a worthy nominee.The story describes a space-faring civilisation whose technology is completely dependent on devine power. It's only about 130 pages long, but I thought it was wonderful. I'd love to see Scalzi do more with this universe!
  • (3/5)
    It's hard to say anything about this book without revealing the whole story. It's a kind of fantasy/science fiction mix. There is space travel using captured gods to power the ships and prayer and rituals have tangible effects, but things may not be quite as they seem.This was an interesting book and well-written as always, but definitely not one my favorites Scalzi books.
  • (5/5)
    Another Scalzi page turner, this dark science fictional fantasy is set in a universe where a totalitarian theocracy rules the stars and all men.The richness and detail of the universe which Scalzi was able to convey in the few pages of this novella is nothing short of impressive. The characters are engaging, lovable and terrifying.I would go into more detail but it is very difficult to review this book without major spoilers. Suffice to say, I loved every word and recommend this to any lover of SF as long as they don't mind some blood and gore!
  • (3/5)
    This story is much darker than Scalzi’s other work, so it wasn’t quite my style. Still well written, with good world building but not my favourite work by the author.
  • (3/5)
    Darker than anything I've read from Scalzi. Gave me some thrills and chills.
  • (3/5)
    A very unusual book - unusual for Scalzi's style, that is.

    It's not just that he went outside of his established (?) genre, creating a strange mix of fantasy, horror and science fiction; the whole concept about "gods" (or rather non-human creatures possessed of weird powers) made for an interesting read, if an unsettling one - especially considering the ending.

    The writing felt different too: again, it might be that the medium Scalzi chose required the convoluted, almost stilted dialogue, but I missed the quick, humor-intensive narrative that I've come to associate with his works. And the light-hearted approach, as well: the story is quite dark, and devoid of hope.

    What connects The God Engines with the other Scalzi books I read are the thought-provoking issues on the meaning of freedom, choice and what makes us human. I suspect that a re-read will reveal more insights, and further possibilities for exploration.

    A different experience, granted, but a fascinating one.
  • (2/5)
    I'm surprised at how little I enjoyed this book considering the material and author. It took until 46% for an interesting concept to show up, which doesn't really pay off in any way, and the end was sort of pathetic. It's short so it was still easy to get through, but Scalzi really falls flat for the first time for me. I'd recommend anything else I've read by him by far over this title.
  • (4/5)
    The premise: ganked from Subterranean Press: 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 that 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...My RatingBuy the Paperback: or in other words, find a cheaper copy. Here's the thing: for me personally, it's "worth the cash," BUT!!! This is an expensive book: $20 for a 136 page hardcover. Don't get me wrong, it's a very NICE hardcover with some LOVELY illustrations, but I can't recommend you plop down $20 for something so slight without totally falling head-over-heels for the book in question. That said, this is very fun and very good. I enjoyed the world-building very much, and the book sticks with you long after the end. This edition is really for collector's, so if you're a Scalzi fan who MUST HAVE EVERYTHING HE WRITES, then yeah, grab it. Just be warned that contrary to marketing, this is actually science fantasy, not fantasy. It's a fair distinction to make, because while it's very different from Scalzi's Old Man's War books, it's still, IMHO, science fiction with a very strong fantasy twist. A wicked COOL fantasy twist and a fun one at that, but not enough of one to simply label the book as fantasy. George R.R. Martin is fantasy. Neil Gaiman is fantasy. This? Is not fantasy. But still, it's very, very good. It just got a Nebula nomination for "Best Novella," which I think is deserved, so make your own decision about how much you do or do not want to pay for this, but definitely read it when you can. It's worth that much. :)Review style: short and sweet, just like the book. NO SPOILERS!!! Because really, I can't talk about the book THAT much without spoiling it, and why spoil something that's so short? So if you're interested in the full review (and why it's science fantasy, not straight fantasy), then feel free to click the link below to my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.REVIEW: John Scalzi's THE GOD ENGINESHappy Reading!
  • (5/5)
    A nice change of pace fantasy novella from a sci-fi author.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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?
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    Scalzi has written and said that he wrote this book to prove he can write dark fiction. Maybe so, but I found the book full of his wit and the ending both terrifying and humorous.
  • (3/5)
    Average SF novella whereby Scalzi pokes fun at religion and discovers the 'Turtles all the way down' issue that Pratchett first poked fun at years ago.HUmmanity has spread ot the stars as have other beings. But theur gods are no match for ours, and can get caught and subdied. Once shackled to the floor of a spaceship they can be persuaded - with the proper tools - to take the spaceship anywhere the captains and priest decide. Preists obviously become very important in such a scenario. Although when the captured gods start rebelling then it all gets a bit more tricky.Kind of obvious, and going ot be offensive to many believers probably. I've no idea why this is a novella form, because with a bit more exploration, plot and characterisation it could be quite good. But as it is it's just average.
  • (3/5)
    Too short.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    Simple review... I found it pretty odd at first. I didn't know what was going on. By the end it started to make sense.

    Its really nothing like scalzi's normal writing. Its very serious. Kinda dark. Very short.
  • (4/5)
    This seems to be Scalzi's first try with fantasy. Dark fantasy. But it still has plenty of space action. It reminded me of the Old Man's War trilogy with the contrast turned way down and added religion. But it's a hella awesome combination - space opera with "mythological religion" - two great tastes that taste great together.But I gotta air one beef. And I didn't realize this until I was doing my fun thing where I look up trivia/info about the story. I saw this review that called attention to one component -- the established harem on the ship designed to give the crew "release". That's all fine and dandy -- not uncommon practice for this level of cultishness -- until Scalzi points out he never assigned any pronouns to the prostitutes. No physical gender characteristics or anything that could define as this, that, or the other. This is creepy. It's clever, but it's creepy. And I'm not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it's a neat writer trick, one that I didn't see coming. I guess it's a technique to let the reader fill in the blanks with what he/she wants to. Which is the sign of a good writer. On the other hand, now that I know that the prostitute could have been a girl or a guy, I feel icky. All I can do is imagine him as a guy. Maybe it's my instinctive homophobia. Maybe in my mind, if the character has no gender, it's potentially both -- a hermaphrodite or someone like Pat.I also feel betrayed by the author, that he fooled me. Maybe it's that I know how the trick is done. Maybe it's that I feel, as a writer, omitting information for the sole purpose of messing with the reader is not cool.
  • (5/5)
    One of my favorite things about John Scalzi’s books is that the man is funny. Along the lines of I-barfed-a-pink-gelatinous-quivering-lung-out kind of funny, which is an incredibly hard thing to accomplish when you are dealing with only the written word. His signature mixture of humor and space opera have always made for entertaining and vastly enjoyable reads. (Especially if killing someone with your flatulence is your idea of high comedy.)But my absolute favorite John Scalzi scene is the first chapter of an Old Man’s War, where John Perry visits the grave of his wife, realizing this would be the last time he would visit. The writing is so poignant, and heartfelt, and touchingly human. There is so much soulfulness and life bursting from that scene. It’s utterly unforgettable. But it is also a scene that has been singular in nature; a high that Scalzi has never reproduced in my eyes in subsequent novels. Humor has seemingly won the day in his most recent books, and those moments of profound gravitas have slowly dwindled away, winking out faster than cupcakes at a Jenny Craig meeting. Which is disappointing, since that first chapter of an Old Man’s War showed so much potential for sci-fi greatness. If only he could re-ignite that spark once again.In The God Engines, a new limited edition novella from Subterranean Press, that’s exactly what John Scalzi has done, re-igniting that spark with an arsonist’s glee. The God Engines is unlike anything he’s done before, shockingly different, both new and completely unexpected. It’s the book Scalzi needed to write in order to mature as a writer and to take his considerable talents to the next level. It’s the book that shows he’s more than just a writer of humorous space operas; he’s also one of the best science fiction writers currently working.A vastly rich tale set in a theocratic universe, The God Engines is a modern sci-fi classic, an intriguing examination of faith and worship and godhood. Intelligent and provocative, the narrative reminds me of a classic Twilight Zone episode, well-written, multi-leveled and rich with ideas. The God Engines is the best thing yet from John Scalzi and worthy of award consideration.I can’t recommend it highly enough.Final Grade: 87 out of 100