Monday, 3 October 2011

John Scalzi - The God Engines

Title: The God Engines
Author: John Scalzi
Pub. year: 2009
Pages: 136
Editor: Subterranean Press

Summary: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...

I already told you about John Scalzi, didn't I? Yes, remember, something about an old guy going to war... Well, I was so charmed by his style and humor that I decided I would now read everything he did. And instead on continuing with the previous series, I came accross this short novella, all cheap and shiny with this wonderful cover by Vincent Chong. How could I resist that?

It could have been a simple SF novella. It could have been about this captain, utterly religious like everyone else in this universe, that goes on a special mission and meet some alien or another. It could have been about quantum physics, about spaceships coordinates, about space battles. It could even have been some funny story like I sort of expected, with improbable meetings and crazy situations. It could, but it isn't. Forget everything you thought this book was, because it is something else.

Yes, it is about religion, and I don't like this better than you probably do. But don't let it stop you! It is also about how a whole population can live solely on its beliefs, and rely on the power of fallen Gods to provide them the technology to travel through space. But being treated as they are, the Gods won't help with a smile, and Tephe will face the one of his own ship when his faith will be shaken by a terrifying event. The point of all this (at least the one I found for myself, thank you) is to make you think about what you want to believe in: an overpowering God that lies to you? That kills people? The other Gods that seem to tell the truth but also kill people? What if you've been blinded, if your world has shrunk because of a Faith too powerful to withstand science? And what if that was also a lie?

So it was not funny, but it was not disappointing either. Only 136 pages and you don't have the time to breathe with the succession of action, reaction, questions and (false) answers that shake our poor hero, to whom I couldn't help but relate. So short but oh so unnerving story, that leaves you trembling for him, forever lost in this madness. And you cannot help but think... what if God was the instrument of our ruin?

2 commentaires:

Great writer!
Here's a competition to win advance copies of his new book Redshirts!

John Scalzi Redshirts Competition

It's a fantastic book, mush of which goes over the heads of most folks.

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