Read Online DeepsixAuthor Jack McDevitt – Wildlives.co
Reread for the first time since God knows when Very impressive book, better than I recalled This was the first of the Academy series, and introduced Priscilla Hutchins, starship pilot, who loses two beaux in this book, one to a gruesome but valorous battle with alien fauna.ENGINES gets mixed reviews, here and elsewhere I liked it a lot I m going to borrow a bit from Russ Albery s review of CHINDI Academy 3 One of the tricks that McDevitt uses to great effect is to break the reader s expectations around pacing Most novels have a predictable tension structure, where suspense builds up to discovery that s always significant McDevitt s books sometimes feel slow paced to start with, partly since he doesn t always follow this structure Instead, his suspense sometimes leads to nothing, and the timings of discoveries can be erratic and unpredictable This echoes the way real science and real exploration work, but requires the book to provide enough space in which to embed moments of discovery That space is taken up, as it would be in life, by interpersonal issues, deeper characterization, and often petty politics When the technique doesn t work, McDevitt s books can feel a bit padded, but when it does work as with Chindi , the pace is part of the atmosphere and effectiveness of the story McDevitt does a good job of drawing strong women characters Here we have Hutch and Melanie Trucscott, first a rival, later almost a friend, both interesting people that you would like to know And he s very good at economically sketching even minor characters, who are seldom rendered as ciphers or stereotypes.He gets mocked for the romance, but here s a minor character s haiku, for counter evidence If they look for me,Say, she rides where comets go,And outpaces light The one subplot that made no sense, and cost the book a half star, was the truly crack brained scheme to terraform Quruagua, an ice age planet where the book s archaeologists are working against time The terraformers scheme involves massive thermonuclear weapons embedded in both polar ice caps It s hard to imagine how their detonation would make things better Awfully hard on the native flora and fauna I guess there wasn t much regulation, that far afield..So, strongly recommended for fans of archaeology in space and old fashioned interplanetary adventure ENGINES clunks sometimes, but gets the job done 4.2 stars. Rating 2.5 starsIs there a requirement that a hard SF author can t write believable characters or dialog to save their life Or, rather, considering the general level of education and IQ among that crowd, is it a conspiracy so that they can chortle over the nearly inevitable comment in any review of their books about the simplistic characters and amateurish dialog Well, no matter I picked up a copy of The Engines of God at a library booksale for 50 cents so I can t complain too vociferously I knew going in I d probably be subjected to awful dialog and simplistic characters sigh but I m a sucker for books like this that try to explain why our skies aren t overrun with happily self replicating von Neumann machines personally, I like Alistair Reynold s answer there s a vast cosmic ecology full of predatory machine intelligences that keep each other in check, mostly.The best I can say about this book is that it s reasonably enjoyable mind candy. Two Hundred Years Ago, Humans Made A Stunning Discovery In The Far Reaches Of The Solar System A Huge Statue Of An Alien Creature, With An Inscription That Defied All Efforts At Translation Now, As Faster Than Light Drive Opens The Stars To Exploration, Humans Are Finding Other Relics Of The Race They Call The Monument Makers Each Different, And Each Heartbreakingly Beautiful But Except For A Set Of Footprints On Jupiter S Moon Iapetus, There Is No Trace Of The Enigmatic Race That Has Left Them Behind Then A Team Of Scientists Working On A Dead World Discover An Ominous New Image Of The Monument Makers Somehow It All Fits With Other Lost Civilizations, And Possibly With Earth S Own Future And Distant Past But Earth Itself Is On The Brink Of Ecological Disaster There Is No Time To Search For Answers Even To A Question That May Hold The Key To Survival For The Entire Human Race Archaeology in space Archaeology in space Yup, that topic never fails to get me excited in my very nerdy defence, that s what I got my BA in, and while I ended up working in a completely different field, I never lost my enthusiasm for it So if you tell me there s a book about archaeologists in space, and you sprinkle some mystery about the lost alien civilization being studied, you check a lot of my give this book to me now boxes.Set in the not so distant future 2202 , The Engines of God opens with the kind of enigma nerds like me salivate all over humanity has started to explore space, and has discovered, scattered around a few planets and moons, statues and monuments left behind by a now probably extinct alien species While each of those structures is different, and inscribed with a unique form of language, they are all believed to be the product of the same civilization An ongoing excavation of a huge temple complex on the planet Quraqua is jeopardized by a terraforming project seeking to melt that planet s ice caps in order to irrigate it, so that humanity can eventually relocate there, Earth s ecology having been damaged beyond repair But what if the discoveries made by those archaeologists held the key to their species survival Like most hard science fiction novels, The Engines of God suffers from prose that s on the dry side The ideas are ambitious and wonderful, but you never get a true sense of atmosphere I mean, the very idea of an abandoned alien temple complex should inspire so many feelings awe, terror, fascination, ominousness But the descriptions of the settings are so minimal that you never really build up those feelings, which is a shame It must also be noted that people with zero prior knowledge of how weird and complicated archaeology is probably will scratch their heads a bit from time to time if you have no idea what the Rosetta Stone is and why it was so crucial to Egyptologists, you will probably wonder why everyone is getting their panties in a twist about finding the alien version of that I do love that McDevitt makes his xenoarchaeology very believable to me, for what that s worth his way of adapting an existing science to this speculative future setting rings perfectly true, with the described methods, terminology and specialties modified just so In archaeology, the process of artifact preservation is actually really rare, and McDevitt turns that into the very existence of civilization being a rare occurrence, dependent on so many variables that need to have perfect timing to allow cultures to develop making the discoveries of the Monuments all that remarkable and significant.The characters are sadly but predictably underdeveloped There s also too many of them I get that McDevitt wanted to make the team feel and sound realistic, and on a dig, there will be a ton of people, which does often result in a too many cooks in the kitchen situation I m happy to give him a thumbs up for realism, but from the uninitiated reader s perspective, it can feel overwhelming McDevitt wrote a bunch Priscilla Hutchins books, so I can only hope she is fleshed out as the series goes on, because in this one, I didn t learn much about her character besides the fact that she is feisty and that her mother is very disappointed she won t settle down.The topic of archaeological research or any scientific research, really being interrupted by big corporations who have a profit to make and shrug off science in the name of the almighty dollar is a topic that touches a nerve with me, so I got quite angry at the Kosmik folks and at the cavalier attitude towards the team working on Quraqua.I always love finding little hints about when a sci fi book was written embedded within the narrative phones with screens la Bladerunner and faxes that actually work totally give this book away as a product of the late 80 s, early 90 s It s pretty adorable, in a charmingly retro sort of way, kind of like Bradbury s characters drinking malt milkshakes on Mars I kept picturing the characters with the inadvisable, puffy hair dos everyone sported back in those days.Despite it s flaws, I enjoyed The Engines of God I will always be a sucker for archaeological mysteries and sci fi, so I am ready to overlook clumsy treatments of silly romances if I have a good, brainy mystery to chew on 3 and a half stars rounded up, and a great curiosity to see where McDevitt took this world and this character in the next book Quite a cool book, and it s only just the beginning of a series I am excited to read It s an interstellar archaeological mystery, but also a futuristic procedural novel following the working lives of archaeologists, scientists, and auxillary crewmembers I love this kind of thing see also Julie Czerneda s Species Imperative trilogy, which follows future biologists through their working lives The future McDevitt invents for humanity feels rather realistic, with tons of problems still existing on Earth, but there s nonetheless an overriding sense of optimism akin to Star Trek, which I appreciated a lot The characters were all likeable, and became pretty memorable once the initial glut of people on screen got whittled down to the main players I particularly liked the friendly ish rivalry between the main character Priscilla Hutchins, and the fiery bureaucrat Melanie Truscott.The novel starts off with a tense episode on a long uninhabited alien planet, involving a confrontation between the archaeologist heroes and an impatient terraforming company waiting to begin their work on that world This section is excellent on its own, but it also serves to put some clues in place for a riveting mystery about enormous monuments in space, and some mysterious force taking out civilisations every 8000 years In the latter half of the novel, we follow some of the characters from the first half as they chase the mystery down, and end up witnessing some pretty terrifying cosmic phenomena.The only bit that felt a bit off kilter from the rest of the book was a kind of silly extended action sequence involving murderous alien crabs It just felt superfluous, an attempt to include some action and tragedy , when I was perfectly enthralled by the slow, leisurely uncovering of clues in dig sites and abandoned alien structures The procedural stuff was far up my alley than the action.In the end we get a first glimpse at the terrifying force behind the disappeared civilisations, and I know it will be explored in future books It feels a bit familiar see also Mass Effect, Revelation Space, etc but I don t mind, it s a trope I kind of like in SF I have to say, it did seem a bit contrived that they manage to track down this once every 8000 year phenomenon with the tenuous evidence they had, and show up just in time to witness it in action What was with that I ll end this review with another compliment, though The book does a great job of peppering in dozens of excerpts from letters, encyclopedia entries, news headlines, translated alien poetry, and many other kinds of documents, between every chapter I love this shit in SF books, and I hope there s of it in the rest of the series It feels like you re a member of the Academy, having access to all this correspondence and information, and getting to piece it together to increase your knowledge of these characters and this world.Great fun, and I m so thrilled to know there s 6 books in this series I asked for recommendations for good sci fi and this was on the list I can t say I agree.Partly it s the setting two hundred years in the future, but that odd sort of future which is just like 1995 with a couple of future y things added The telephones have video and there are faxes, but now they go faster than light Are there really science minded writers who think that the modern world is just like the early 19th century The lack of characterization is typical for science fiction, so I was willing to overlook it The sheer stupidity of the characters, however Of course it s not their fault, the author made them do it.As an example of what I mean, much of the third quarter of the book concerns our team of scientists being stranded in an uninhabited system Their ship s main power source has failed and is gradually cooling If a certain critical system is allowed to get too cold then the rest of the environmental controls shut down and the crew is doomed The ship s pilot ponders this problem while she takes her morning hot shower If only there were some source of heat This one is frustratingFirst of all.i hate it when when a male writer tries to decipher the female psyche.how would she translate the subtle hints and looks and touchs.unless he took it to street and made an a extensive survey.I won t buy it ,and I don t like itAnd that is mainly why I don t like female lead Written by maleSecondly.some assholes out there finds ok to summarize the fate of the entire cast of the book in half a page.to show us that in the grand scheme of things.all what you have just read doesn t really matter and to those I sayF U. What bugs me about this book is that I read the sequel, Deepsix, first That pretty much kills the mystery that unfolds in this book McDevitt s greatest skill is his ability to weave a mystery into an action novel The characters aren t stock, but they aren t outstanding either the main character develops in later books , and the point is really to experience alien cultures and try to work out what happened to the ones that disappeared or died out This isn t just space adventure, it s archaeology in space, and as long as you aren t looking for hard SF or character driven fiction, it s an extremely enjoyable adventure. This is a hard science fiction novel, with a well defined plot and set of characters The best thing this book has going for it, is its focus on archaeology, and the deciphering of clues from ancient alien artifacts The entire story is a mystery, and even by the end of the book the puzzle is only partially solved This, of course, allows the author to extend the story into sequels So, this is the first book of The Academy series.I especially enjoy science fiction books that contain unique, futuristic concepts But there isn t much of that here There is a giant space telescope, but there is only a hint as to its true purpose There is faster than light space travel but isn t that in many other novels The only exceptional futuristic concept is the well, I am not going to add a spoiler here, but suffice it to say, we never learn what it really is all about.The characters are pretty much one dimensional, the dialog is not very interesting almost humorless If the archaeology had not been in the forefront of the story, the book would have lost all of its attraction Will I continue to the second book in the series I am not sure Xenoarchaeology On a grand scale McDevitt really does a fantastic job with vast worldbuilding and mystery when it comes to dead alien races, exploration, and working through the questions.I m particularly fond of all the expeditions None of them are nuts but quite plausible and dangerous and deadly And not everyone comes back from them The realism is very nice.Fortunately, however, this and the plotting and the focus on discovery is usually good enough to carry the tale over the characters The characters are interesting enough but some of the descriptions come off as either bland or not quite right The heroic parts and the action sequences are spot on, while the romantic bits well, I m not coming to these books for the romance Fortunately, there s no outright cringe worthy stuff here Just fascinating brainy adventure I m looking forward to future huge developments I can see them on the far horizon You know like massive catastrophy for humanity.