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The God Engines


So, the back cover of John Scalzi's book, The God Engines, reads:

"If J.G. Ballard and H.P. Lovecraft had ever collaborated on a space opera, the results might have been like this: ferociously inventive, painfully vivid, dispassionately bleak and dreadfully memorable."

When Jonathan saw the back of the book, he looked up at me. "If that was all I had to go on, I wouldn't read this book."

Yeah, I have to admit, I wouldn't have read it either.

But, as it turns out, I'm a huge Scalzi fan. Other than telling the same story from a different perspective (hello, Zoe's Tale), the man can do no wrong. I mean, seriously, if the man can write a book that opens with death by fart and still sound like Heinlein, I'm going to read anything he writes.

The book is a short book, probably best illustrated by the $4.99 price on the Kindle version, but really it's only 136 pages of large font, so fairly short, easily readable in under an hour and a half. Given that even books have gone the way of everything American (bigger is better), having a shorter book was a refreshing change. I didn't have to invest hours across severals days to finish the book, which was nice.

The story is a quick read, the characters described and developed well enough, the conflict easily resolved and the twist expected. I enjoyed the rich world hinted at in the story, though: enough to understand what's going on (after a few chapters), but also enough left to the imagination that the reader needs to fill in the history. That filling in part is what I enjoy.

One aspect I though was quite interesting is that the gender of one character in the book is never revealed. There's a picture that indicates the character is a woman, but really, feminine features and long hair do not a woman guarantee. There are no pronouns describing the character, nor any possessives referring to the character. The character, who is the captain's lover, is delightfully what the reader wants the character to be. I liked that aspect, too.

Yeah, so, Scalzi's work is generally science fiction, with a good dose of his humour in it. This one, while also science fiction has some other overtones, somewhat horror-ish, a dash of religion in the plot mechanism, not too much though. It's a darker tale the usual, but that just added to the interesting.

I enjoyed the book, read it quickly, would hand to Andy to read.

BTW, if you want something more specific on the plot, check out the Amazon page or search for the book at your favorite search engine. I prefer just going with books from authors whose previous works I've enjoyed, instead of criticizing the plot before I've even read it (which is why I chose not to include one here). I know I like Scalzi's style of writing, and I trust he won't bore me in the plot, so, I didn't look it up before I bought a copy of the book, I just bought it. If you're local and unsure if you'll like the story, you can borrow my copy.

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