Booklist Review of The God Engines

It’s out, and while it like the Publishers Weekly review is a bit spoilerish of a plot point I want you to be surprised by and so I won’t quote it at length (I have accepted that most reviews will reveal this plot point, as it comes early in the novella), nevertheless here’s a nice bit from it:

[Scalzi’s] writing has never been crisper, and his ideas carry a freshness and energy most other fantasy authors will envy.

Neat. I’m very happy with the reviews so far, especially as this is my first attempt at fantasy. That said, I’m not expecting a clean run of positive reviews, because TGE is so different in tone and content from my science fiction work that I do expect a fair amount of “WTF?” out of it. Which is fine; “The Sagan Diary” was also different, and got lots of polarized opinions. I’m very proud of it, as I am of TGE. I am looking forward to people reading this novella and finding out what they think.

Finally, as a bit of a treat, if you go to the Subterranean Press order page for TGE, you can see two previews of the fabulous black and white interior art by Vincent Chong. It’s well worth the click.

32 Comments on “Booklist Review of The God Engines”

  1. I’m glad to see you’ve written a fantasy novel. I enjoy fantasy to an extent, but I read SO much of it when I was in my teens that I burned out on it, but I feel the same way about seeing this novel out as when I saw Richard Morgan’s “The Steel Remains,” which is to say “ZOMG! He wrote a fantasy novel?! This is going to be great!” I look forward to scraping my pennies to pick this one up. Thanks for being a consistently good writer of great tales. Sorry for the gushing, but you’re one of my new favorite writers ever since I finally picked up “Old Man’s War” after hearing about it on a podcast (“Dragon Page”) back in ’04.

  2. Shawn S.:

    “I’m glad to see you’ve written a fantasy novel.”

    To be clear, it’s a novella: It’s about 30,000 words. I note this so people aren’t surprised when they buy it and it’s shorter than they might expect.

  3. I am too burned out on fantasy but I’ll still read my favorite authors: Watt-Evans, Cook, Wolfe and Brust but I just don’t have much time for anybody else between work and Real Life. I am looking forward to Scalzi’s entry in this genre and maybe if it sells he’ll be inspired to write more fantasy.

  4. Novella, novel… either way, it’ll be a great story and I wouldn’t be disappointed if it were only 10 pages… okay, in that case yes, but I’m not looking for a multi-tasker here (i.e. book/paperweight/doorstop).

  5. Congrats. I think knowing that people enjoy your stories must be a nice feeling.

    I think your style is pretty damn crisp as is, have you gone off and done a Hemingway-ish novela? It is a good day.

    I’ll have to look through the archives to read your op on e-books.

  6. logocrat: I have hit the little button on Amazon requesting that it be on the Kindle. I suggest you do the same – not sure how else to give our feedback to the publisher…

    John: As a Sci-Fi reader who occasionally crosses over into fantasy, I’m excited to read, essentially, the writer’s equivalent. If that makes sense.

  7. I take it that means you finished the giant stack of signature pages? – fantastic! – I can’t wait to get my ‘pre-oredered months ago’ copies of Last Colony and God Engines!

  8. I hate reviews that give away the plot. That’s not reviewing, that’s a summary. That’s why I love Roger Ebert. He can tell you all about a film and not give it away. We all know how difficult that is.

  9. Just tried to find The God Engines at to put it on my wishlist, but it seems it’s not there yet, though they normally have tons of english books. Hope, it’ll be there soon.

  10. Well, actually Ed, sometimes Ebert does do very detailed plot synopses. And he recently pissed off many readers by spoiling the identity of the surprise cameo in Zombieland. But mostly, yeah, he is really good.

  11. David Drake did a trilogy of “cross-overs” into Fantasy and did a really bang-up job. He kept all the gritty, little details we love from his MilSciFi. I think SF authors have an easier time doing Fantasy, then is true of the reciprocal. Anyone know of an author or two that came from Fantasy to write an SF novel? I may have missed some good ones there.

  12. Pre-ordered the signed edition of this, Metatropolis and The Last Colony a while back. I also ordered Judge Sn goes golfing chapbook even though I haven’t read Android’s dream yet. Still trying to find a decent hardcover copy to pick up somewhere.

    Superb job the writing team did on Metatropolis (and maybe even the editor?). I enjoyed all the contributions and wouldn’t mind seeing future works from any of the authors in the same setting although that seems unlikely given the nature of the original project.

    The God Engines will be the first leather bound Subterranean book I’ve ordered as I didn’t get The Sagan Diaries. I’ve been pleased with the other Subterranean books I’ve ordered such as Old Man’s War (I really like Vincent Chong’s cover artwork on this one in comparison to the 1st edition hardcover). I listened to the audio version and it wasn’t my cup of tea. Anyways, hoping the leather bound Subterranean books are as nicely produced as their others.

    I ordered the Subterranean edition of Ghost Brigades from Amazon to and it came damaged so I had to send it back and then wasn’t able to get a replacement anywhere so I don’t think I’ll be acquiring that one real soon.

    I almost ordered Agent to the Stars from the Penny Arcade promo years back, but having never heard of you and being a busy college student at the time without much time to read the free online version never got around to it. I’ve been kicking myself over that one ever since I actually started reading your work as it is now basically impossible to acquire in hardcover at any reasonable price.

    Looking forward to reading The God Engines as the setting seems interesting from the little I’ve heard about it so far.

  13. Other Jeff: off the top of my head…Stephen R. Donaldson with his Gap series, Tad Williams with Otherland, and Brandon Sanderson published an SF novella in Asimovs last year. Sure there may be others.

  14. Mr. Scalzi:

    In regard to electronic editions, I give you three words: Publishers Don’t Listen

    Tor, especially, seems to be infested with the idea that eBook sales somehow “cannibalize” sales of dead trees and are an Abomination Unto the Lord. This despite the fact that people such as myself, who are heavily into eBooks, DO NOT BUY TREEWARE. Period. I’m sixty years old and getting less and less enamored with the idea of hauling around pounds of paper for my reading fix, when I can stuff the words into my Palm and head out the door with a small library in my pocket.

  15. Speaking of The Sagan Diary, and I know that it’s your publishers call, but shouldn’t it be out in paperback by now? Please & Thank you.

  16. Midknyte:

    There’s no plan for a paperback version of “Sagan.”

    Geoffrey Kidd:

    Be that as it may, it’s their call to make the electronic versions or not, so they are the people to talk to. Asking me about them isn’t going to help things one way or another, and sort of annoys me, especially as I noted to you before it’s not up to me.

  17. Geoffrey: While I certainly don’t begrudge people for having a preference for e-books (indeed, as long as people are reading, I don’t care how they’re doing it), I do find your reasoning a little funny. I mean, unless you’re shlepping around the deluxe leatherbound slipcased limited large-print edition of Atlas Shrugged or The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I don’t see how reading a traditional book involves “pounds of paper.” Heck, the average mass market paperback weighs ounces at most, and even most hardcovers aren’t that unwieldy.

  18. “pounds of paper”. Let’s see what’s in my Palm:

    “Darkfever”, “Elegy Beach”, “The Chick and the Dead”, “Noble House”, “Torch of Freedom”, plus “Dollar Meltdown” and “A History of the American People” for nonfiction. All legitimate purchases either from Fictionwise or Baen.

    “Torch of Freedom” will be a hardcover when it comes out this month, and my bookseller tells me it will weigh just under two pounds. “Noble House” and “A History of the American People” probably weigh more than that, even in paperback. *minimum* weight for the above reading stack is at least 70 ounces: >5 pounds.

    My Palm weighs five ounces, and fits into a small pouch on my belt. Try doing THAT with treeware.

  19. Thomas M. Wagner @26: Comparing a single title with an e-reader isn’t a very useful comparison when you consider that the Kindle, for example, claims it can hold up to 1500 books. If you multiply that by even as little as two ounces per book, you get 3000 ounces, which is 187.5 lbs., heavier than an average adult human being. Other devices no doubt vary in their storage capacity, but they do indeed represent the equivalent of many pounds of paper.

    I, too, prefer paper over pixels, but I have to concede this point to Geoffrey and other e-reader enthusiasts.

  20. Right, but in this case the benefit is saving space, not that books are too heavy. No matter if you have 100 books on your Kindle, you can only read them one at a time. But that is 100 books you do not need to find shelf space for in your home or office.

  21. But if you’re on the subway and you decide that you’re bored with the book you’re reading, or you finish it early in the trip, you’ve got hundreds of others with you to choose from.

  22. It’s more than just space/convenience.

    On my Palm, if I want to switch from, say, “Elegy Beach” to “The Dollar Meltdown”, it’s a click away, and the reader maintains my place for me automagically.

    Out of curiosity, I just ran an inventory of my /ebooks/fiction directory. It came to 6.7GB. Ignore minor file types, cruft, and JPG files for illustrations, cover art and my collection of Kevin and Kell comics(I support the strip with a monthly donation), I have:

    PDF 2.3GB, 253 files
    HTM 1.01GB, 7080 files
    TXT 709MB, 3240 files

    The text files are a mix of everything from short stories to novels, but the htm and PDF files are pretty much novels. Assuming a rough average of six ounces for the book as paperback, that’s about 1.7 English tons of books that I don’t have to find shelf space for, and that’s just the fiction.

    The other advantage I find for an all-electronic library is peace of mind. I carry my library around on a 32GB Corsair Survivor flash drive (and that includes non-fiction, electronic magazines like Analog and Asimov’s, my financial records and some odds and sods like legally bought music I couldn’t bear to be without.) All of it’s encrypted with TrueCrypt so I don’t have to worry if the drive falls into hostile hands, and my “talisman drive” as I call it, is usually dangling from a cord around my neck. Try carrying 1.7 tons of books around.

    That collection is regularly backed up to five different hard drives located at two sites about ten miles apart, so the risk of permanently losing my collection reduces to “Will civilization collapse?” And, in the event of a major disaster in my area, I can grab, in descending order of priority, my wife, our cats, my talisman drive if I’m not already wearing it, disaster backup food and water, and my spare clothes.

    The last item is optional. Clothes can be replaced. :)

    Peace of mind. It’s wunnaful.

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