|Submitted by RobertBrink |
(May 18, 2003)
Jack McDevitt's "The Engines of God" starts with potential but rapidly turns dogmatic, shallow and hackneyed.
"The Engines of God" is the story of 23rd century archeologists examining mysterious artifacts left throughout the galaxy by an unknown source.
The initial premise is well done and will probably hold the reader's attention through the initial chapters. Also on the positive side, McDevitt shows tremendous technical skill. The structure, pacing, and overall writing style make the book an easy read.
Unfortunately, his core writing abilities don't offset the many flaws of the book: The rote antagonists, uninspiring characters, and deus ex machina ending. It is difficult enough to care about the predicaments and love affairs of effete academics when they are drawn deeply. When they are stick figures, it is nearly impossible. The marketing-focus-group heavies don't help McDevitt's cause either. Global warming, mystery illnesses from Africa, fossil fuels, and greedy corporate overlords all make an appearance. Rather than getting a treat like Asimov's "Mule", it's fodder left over from a Steven Seagal movie. Having waded through to the end hoping for an inventive resolution that would save the book, I was treated to the final injustice. The sudden unexplained boogie-man ending is so devoid of point, climax or enlightenment that it left me feeling robbed.
McDevitt has wonderful technique. However, flawless composition will never make up for a lack of originality, depth and plot cohesiveness.