CBRIII Maneuver #26 – The God Engines

Target: John Scalzi’s The God Engines

Profile: Sci-fi, Religion, Metafiction

Summary: From goodreads.com, “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…”

After Action Report:

The God Engines is the first book I read on my Kindle.  This is probably my own fault, but I didn’t really check over the information on the buy page at Amazon, and as a result, I ended up reading a novella instead of a full novel.  When I finished the book in a blistering two hours, I realized something was up and went online to check the pagecount.  Whoops.  I’m still counting it, but I don’t feel good about it, particularly as it is my half-way mark to 52.  That’s right!  Half way done and a full 3 books ahead. 

There isn’t a lot here to review.  The God Engines is a brief little novella about a culture of humans that are completely dedicated to their god, a nameless superentity from a race of creatures that survive on human faith and can warp the laws of the universe.  These humans use the defeated husks of enemy gods to power their spaceships, ever wary of heresy and waning faith. 

Faced with a mysterious enemy who is defeating them at every turn, Captain Tephe, his crew and his god-prisoner are called upon to journey to a world without gods to collect pure, untempered faith to bolster their god in his time of need.  The plot sears through its brief narrative, but still gives a good accounting of Captain Tephe and his struggles with faith, loyalty and honor. 

The meta-philosophy and religious commentary of the book are interesting, but ultimately don’t feed back into reality in any concrete way.  Scalzi seems to warn about the dangers of giving your soul away to a cause, but the book doesn’t espouse any real pro or anti-religious stance.  Perhaps it reads as opposed to radical fundamentalism, but only loosely. 

Scalzi does have a command of the written word and The God Engines is deeply intelligent and darkly humorous.  The opening pages are particularly captivating.  The only real complaint I have is the length.  While the story’s pacing is superb and I can’t really argue with the conclusion, I can’t help but want more.  This is a deeply interesting novel with some strong ideas and Scalzi just barrels through them.

Posted on June 6, 2011, in Cannonball Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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