[personal profile] pyropyga
Previously I've read A Talent For War, The Hercules Text and Infinity Beach from McDevitt, quite a while ago now. I was hoping to get to the Phandemonium book club this month, so I read The Engines of God to prepare for that. As it turns out, my D&D game over the weekend is likely to fatally conflict with that plan. However, reading The Engines of God was something of an experience. I was initially struck by how compelling readable the early sections were. Then everything fell apart. Major objections (includes spoilers):

1) The major characters appear to prepare less effectively than should be expected of an overnight camping trip. This appears to be the normal level of thought that goes into interstellar travel in this world, despite the implication that it is still quite expensive.

2) McDevitt seems to believe cities are a foul sign of intelligent life becoming unsustainable (urbanization is name checked as a sign of the ills afflicting Earth early on), so he builds his world so that the universe validates this belief by running around doing hit jobs on cities for the benefit of those who fail to perish in the holocaust. Um, yuck.

3) Characters are either: A) the protagonist, B) someone the protagonist cares about who will be fleshed out, then killed or C) an interchangeable person we care nothing about.

4) Most of the jeopardy in the novel comes from 1) and it just keeps coming on an episodic basis. Gah.

The prior McDevitt novels I had read left almost no impression on me, something I found surprising at the time, particularly because A Talent For War was very heavily hyped by some folks. Does his stuff get any better? Any worse?



May 2009

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