Monday, May 31, 2021

Jack McDevitt - The engines of God (1994) / Deepsix


Strange... I'm pretty sure I've read some of his work, but I cannot recall a single title. Oh well... I had totally different expectations of these two books. I was expecting large, grand space opera, and though it features explorers, fighting for their lives, spaceships, aliens and what not... 


... instead, these books feel like the events in them could have taken place right now, on a very, intimate, personal scale.

I'm still not sure if I like that or not 😶

The engines of God

There is absolutely nothing wring with a little inconsistency, plot error or technical mistake. But there are times where I feel like yelling at the author, because he / she missed a very basic point.

Here's an example: I'm currently reading / listening to the McDevitt Academy series. In part two of book 1, the main cast makes an FTL jump (not exactly a jump, but still a superluminal trip through hyperspace) towards a yet unexplored planet, and end up so close to their target that they hit an object there.


What they did

  1. They knew something was there. It was the source of a radio transmission.
  2. They knew the jump could be dangerous. It was at this stage unclear if this was the actual home world of the 'Monument Makers'. Also, whatever killed off the Monument Makers could still be lingering there.
  3. They jumped in alone. A single small ship. Unarmed. Bunch of archeologists as a crew.
  4. In the Academy universe spaceships are common enough, there have been years of space exploration, and space ships are owned by governments, corporations, and some are perhaps even privately owned.

What they should have done

  1. Jump in and arrive at a safe distance from their target point. No telling what happened in all those years between the transmission of the radio signals, and their reception.
  2. Make a full observation from that distance. Light and radio travels outward. If you have FTL capacities, you can figure out the history of any event of object by jumping back and forward in space (effectively jumping back and forward in time, at least from the observers point of view).
  3. Continue going in in small jumps.
  4. Have a second ship stand by, in case something goes wrong.

Things sometimes do go wrong, you know...


The author tried to repair this somewhat in the epilogue, where he states that the events described had lead to serious improvements in the design of spaceships. I wonder who designed those things in the first place then?

Must have been some committee 😎 almost like the real thing… 😩

The verdict

I'm not sure... I think I don't really like them. At least these two titles did not make me search out more of his work, so...

Dapper / TellTales 79 

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