Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review: The God Engines

It's no secret that I'm a fan of John Scalzi - Harbinger of Bacon[his blog]. In the list of science fiction books that I recommend I put "Old Man's War" up in the top 25. Maybe top 10. (I should write down the list some day.) Also, he's a Creative Consultant on "Stargate: Universe" which I think is much better than the recent "Battlestar Galactica".

I finished reading Scalzi's latest book "The God Engines" a few minutes ago. I had to rush to the laptop to write about it. Partially because it's Wednesday night and I have nothing for Thursday, but mostly because I had to tell someone about this book. The problem is that this is the kind of book that you want to tell everyone to read but you can't tell them anything about it. Think about when you tried to tell your friends to go see "The Matrix". Really. Think about it for a second. I'll wait.

Right? You went in blind. The trailers told you nothing. Your friends told you nothing. You walked out a bit stunned and a bit confused but you liked it. Then you wanted to tell someone about it without giving anything away. That's where I am. But I'll do what I can.

It's short. Only 136 pages or so. It rivals some longer short stories.

It has some sex. Not a lot. One scene.

Before you start this book I want you to imagine a world where gods existed. I mean really existed. Not this Yahweh crap where 5,000 years ago he parted a sea but now won't so much as part your hair. God exists and is active in your everyday life. What would that do to science? To travel? To healthcare? To the wine industry? What would it do to the other gods? Oh, if you believe the Bible then you know other gods exist. You just don't put them before God with a big "G".

In the heart of a starship sits a god enslaved. Beaten, defeated, and brought low by Our Lord, this god is chained in iron formed in a forge, tortured with iron pulled straight from the heart of a planet, and nearly killed by iron formed in a dying star. Here it runs the very ship that serves as it's cage. It leaps the ship across galaxies, defends the ship from attack, and curses the captain and priest who order it.

But something is happening. The god engines are becoming more lippy, more rebellious.

I've said too much. That's more than I knew when I opened the book. The story is short, but that's a pro. This story could have gotten dull at twice the length. As it is, Scalzi builds suspense while keeping it short enough that you keep reading longer than you should just because you know the answers are so close.

If you've read Scalzi and didn't like him you should try this anyway. It doesn't have the light air and joking attitude of his other books. Only his name on the cover told me it was his.

If you don't like it give it to a library. I don't think you'll want to, though.

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