The God Engines, Out Tomorrow — Read the First Chapter Today
Posted on December 30, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 106 Comments
The God Engines is officially in print tomorrow; Subterranean Press tells me copies of the book are in their warehouse and they’ll be shipping them over the next week, with direct orders from SubPress being fulfilled first and Amazon orders following right behind (on account that those have to, you know, go through Amazon’s warehouses, too). I’ve been asked if we have plans for an electronic edition of the book and the answer is: Not yet, although it’s possible at some point in the future. Having held the physical copy in my hands, I can tell you it’s worth getting; it’s gorgeous.
I’m really excited about TGE; it’s dark fantasy, which is a first for me, and quite a bit different than anything I’ve written before. I can’t wait for you to read it. In fact, I’m so excited for you to check it out that, here: Behind the cut you’ll find the first chapter of the novella. For those of you who have bought the book, it’ll tide you over until the book arrives (or drive you nuts until it gets there); for the rest of you, I hope it intrigues you enough that you’ll want to read the rest of it. If you do, it’s available through Subterranean Press and through Amazon (note: if you want the signed, limited edition, you’ll need to go through SubPress for that).
Without further ado, the first chapter of The God Engines. Click the “Continue Reading” link to get to it. Enjoy.
THE GOD ENGINES
It was time to whip the god.
Captain Ean Tephe entered the god chamber, small lacquered, filigreed chest in hand. He found blood on the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other, and the god prostrate in its iron circle, its chains shortened into the circle floor. The healer Omll muttered over the acolyte. The god giggled into the iron its mouth was mashed into and flicked its tongue over red lips. A priest stood over the god, just outside the circle. Two other acolytes stood against the wall of the chamber, terrified.
Tephe set the chest on a table filled with discipline instruments. He turned to the priest, Croj Andso. “Explain this,” he said.
Andso bristled momentarily. His nominal rank was not less than the captain’s. But this involved the Righteous, and thus Tephe’s position of authority in this case was higher than Andso’s.
“The Defiled was refusing its orders, and so I had Drian here discipline it,” the priest said. His eyes tracked to the long iron pike that lay just outside the god’s circle. A spatterline of blood trailed from it to the acolyte Drian. “The Defiled trapped the pike as Drian thrust in and pulled him into the circle. It bit him and released him only after I had it ordered driven into the floor.”
Tephe addressed the healer Omll without taking his eyes off the priest. “How is the acolyte?” he asked.
“The Defiled took a mouthful of flesh from him,” Omll said. “Off the shoulder. The bone is ripped out and vessels ruptured, and he has lost a lot of blood. I am sealing the wound but the wound is needful. Healer Garder will have to supervise the healing from here. His skills in this area are advanced of mine.”
“Why did he not come?” Tephe asked.
“There was not time,” Andso said. “Healer Omll happened to be passing outside when the attack occurred. He entered the chamber when he heard the screaming.”
Tephe nodded briefly. “Apologies, healer Omll.”
The healer nodded in response. “With your permission I need to bring acolyte Drian to the healer’s bay.”
“You have it,” Tephe said. “Priest, if you will have your other acolytes assist the healer.” Andso gestured to the other acolytes, who did not need to be told a second time. They lifted Drian off the floor and carried him out of the chamber, quickly. The captain was alone with the priest and the god.
Tephe reached to the floor and picked up the pike, examined the head. “I want to know how this happened, priest,” he said.
“I already explained what happened, Captain,” Andso said, tightly.
“You explained what happened,” Tephe said. “I said I wanted to know how.” He hefted the pike. “Where did this pike come from?”
“It was in our stores,” Andso said. “I had it brought out when the Defiled refused its orders.”
Tephe touched the head of the pike. “Did you examine it before you had it used?” he said.
“There was no need,” Andso said. “Our supplies are certified by the Bishopry. All our instruments of discipline are second-made iron, Captain. They have to be. You know that.”
“You must have marvelous faith in the Bishopry,” Tephe said, “if you do not believe you must examine your own inventory.”
“And you do not?” Andso said, straightening. The captain was edging into blasphemy, and that, at least, was in the priest’s ambit. “Do you doubt the Bishopry, Captain?”
The captain glanced at the priest but did not reply. He hefted the pike again and thrust it savagely into the prone body of the god, the cutting spike of the weapon driving toward the flesh of the god’s back.
The pike shaft bent; sharpened spike dragged roughly across godskin, catching but not cutting. The god giggled again, wheezy. The priest’s eyes widened.
Tephe pulled back the pike and threw it on the floor, outside the circle, between him and the priest. “I do not doubt the Bishopry, Priest Andso,” he said. “I doubt other men. You know that fleet merchants and suppliers are more concerned with cash than their souls. And you should know that profits made passing third-made iron as second-made are the difference between a good month and a bad one.”
From the floor, a whispering sing-song. “‘Third-made binds, second-made wounds, first-made kills,’” said the god, and giggled again.
The priest stared at the pike, and then looked up at the captain. “I want to question the quartermaster,” Ando said. “He procured these supplies. It was his responsibility to ensure the certification was genuine.”
“Quartermaster Usse is dead,” Tephe said, sharply. “Along with three of his staff and ten other of our crew, in our late engagement off Ament Cour. If he is to blame for this, then you may be assured Our Lord has called him to task for it. You need not concern yourself further with him. And whatever his sins, priest, it is you who chose to accept a forged bishopric certification on faith. Your acolyte may pay for it.”
“If he does, he will be with Our Lord,” Andso said.
“And gloriously so,” said the captain. “But I imagine at his age, not gladly.” He kicked at the pike, sending it skittering toward the priest. “Destroy that,” he said. “Pray over the ashes. And then go through your remaining instruments. All of them. I expect a full accounting by fourth bell, forenoon tomorrow.”
“Yes, captain,” Andso said, after a minute.
“That is all,” Tephe said.
Andso look surprised. “You do not want my assistance?” he asked.
“This is a task given to captains,” Tephe said. “Not to priests.”
“Very well, Captain,” Andso said, stiffly. “I leave you to your task.”
“Wait,” Tephe said, and motioned at the god. “Loosen its chains.”
“Captain?” Andso said.
“Loosen its chains,” the captain repeated. “I want it able to sit.”
“I advise against it, Captain,” Andso said. “The Defiled must be made low.”
“It will be low enough when I am done with it,” Tephe said. “Now, priest.”
Andso went to the controls which unspooled the chain, and then released the lock on the chain.
“It is still on the floor,” Tephe said, after several seconds.
“So it is,” said the priest. “But it is so by choice.”
“Very well,” said Tephe. “Go.”
The priest left.
“You may rise,” Tephe said, to the god.
“To sit is not to rise,” said the god.
“Then you may sit,” Tephe said.
“The iron is cool,” said the god. “It likes us well.”
“As you will,” Tephe said, and walked back to the table. He retrieved the small chest and walked toward the god, stopping close to the edge of the iron circle. He set the chest on the floor at the edge, in the line of the god’s sight.
“Do you know what is in here?” he said.
“Treasure,” whispered the god, mockingly, into the floor.
“So it is,” said Tephe, and bent down to open the chest, to reveal a whip, flecked with metal.
The god hissed, slowly, sadly.
“You have not seen this before, because you have not given me cause to use it before,” Tephe said, taking the whip, gently. “And so I will explain it to you.” He held out the handle. “The handle is bone, taken from a god My Lord killed with His own hands. I have heard that My Lord took the bone from this god while it still lived. But I do not know the truth of it.”
“We know the truth of it,” the god said.
“The leather is godskin,” Tephe said, ignoring the god’s reply. “The skin of the same god whose bone serves as the handle. This skin was taken while the god lived, that much is truth.”
“We knew of it,” the god said, still on the floor. “The god yours killed. We felt its pain. We marveled at how long your god suffered it to live, harvesting bones and skin remade, sustained by despairing followers who could not bear to see their god so, but could not bear a life without it. So terrible. With the coin of faith and cruelty your god purchased that pretty, pretty whip. You do not understand the cost of what it is you hold.”
“The gods do many things their followers are not given to understand,” Tephe said. “What I do understand is that the bones and skin of a god alone do not make this something you would fear. For your fear, there are these.” Tephe pointed to the splinters of metal, woven and embedded into the whip.
“Yes,” the god hissed again.
“Single made iron,” Tephe said. “It is as described in our commentaries: ‘Born in the heart of a star, as it died and strew itself into darkness. Never collected to melt in the dust of aborning planets. Never made a third time in the fire of a human forge.’”
He held it closer to the god, but still outside the circle. The god flinched from it. “Look at the iron,” Tephe said. “Unfashioned in itself but set and secured into this whip. And it is as you said. Third made iron binds, second made iron wounds, single made iron kills.”
Tephe set the whip back into its case. “I do not know why this is. Why single made iron can kill a god. I know only that it can. I know the gods fear death more than do men. I can kill you with this, god.”
The god raised its head. “You do not name us as the others,” it said. “You do not call us ‘Defiled.’ We have heard this before. We would know why.”
“You do me service,” Tephe said.
“But you do not use our name,” said the god.
“I am not a fool,” Tephe said. To name a god was to give it power.
The god smiled. “You do not even think it,” it said. It set its head back on the iron.
“What I think,” Tephe said, “is that you should swear to me that you will follow your orders. That you will bring us to Triskell, where we are expected in the morning.”
“Why should we do this thing,” asked the god.
“Because you are commanded,” Tephe said.
“No man commands us,” the god said.
Tephe reached into his shirt and pulled out his Talent, the iron cypher held by a silver chain. He held it toward the god. “Do not play games,” he said. “You know well what this Talent signifies. On this ship I bear the Talent of command. It means on this ship, my word is as My Lord’s. God though you are, you are yet His slave. And as you are His slave in all things, on this ship so are you mine. I command you in the name of My Lord. And I command you bring us to Triskell.” Tephe placed his Talent back into his shirt.
“What men have you on this ship?” asked the god.
“I have three hundred eighty souls at the moment,” said Tephe. The Righteous had been brought from Bishop’s Call six months earlier with four hundred twenty men aboard, but battles and illness had reduced their number.
“Three hundred eighty good men,” said the god.
“Yes,” said Tephe.
“Then bid you them step outside your precious ship and push,” said the god. “I do not doubt you will be at Triskell in the morning.”
Tephe took the whip from the case, stood, and lashed hard into the god, the slivers of iron tearing into its flesh. The god screamed and kicked as far as its chain would allow. Godblood seeped from the gash.
“A lash for that,” said Tephe, and after a moment lashed the god a second time. “And a lash for the acolyte Drian.” The captain coiled the whip with the godblood and flesh still flecked on it, knelt and set it back into the chest. “If the acolyte dies, you will answer for that as well.”
The god tried to laugh and sobbed instead. “It burns.”
“It burns, yes,” agreed the captain. “And it will burn further. Wounds from single made iron will not heal without the grace of the faithful, as you know. Your wounds will rot and increase, as will your pain, until you die. Unless you swear to obey me.”
“If we die, you are lost out here,” said the god.
“If you die, our Gavril will send a distress call, and we will be soon enough gathered,” Tephe said. “I will be called to account, but the truth of it will be plain enough. Our Lord does not long suffer those who will not obey.” Tephe motioned to the chest with the whip. “This you should know well.”
The god said nothing and lay on the ground, stuttering and suffering. Tephe stood, patient, and watched.
“Make it stop,” it said, after long minutes.
“Obey me,” Tephe said.
“We will bring you to Triskell, or wherever else you require,” said the god. “Make it stop.”
“Swear,” Tephe said.
“We have said what we will do!” shouted the god, its form rippling as it did so, into something atavistic and unbeautiful, a reminder that when The Lord enslaved other gods, He took their forms along with their names. The ripple ceased and the god resumed its enslaved form.
Tephe knelt, opened the service knife he kept in his blouse pocket, jabbed it into the meat of his left palm, praying as he did so. He cupped his right hand underneath his left, collecting the blood that flowed out. When enough collected, he stepped into the iron circle and placed his hands on the god’s wounds, coating them with his own blood, letting the grace in his blood begin its healing work. The god screamed again for a moment and then lay still. Tephe finished his work and then quickly stepped outside of the iron circle, mindful that the god’s chains were slack.
“Now,” he said, holding his palm to stop the bleeding. “Bring us to Triskell.”
“We will do as we have said,” said the god, breathing heavily. “But we must have rest. Triskell is far, and you have hurt us.”
“You have until eighth bell of the Dogs,” Tephe said. “Tell me you understand and obey.”
“We do,” said the god, and collapsed again onto the iron.
Tephe collected the chest and exited the chamber. Andso was waiting outside with his acolytes. “You are bleeding,” he said.
“The god has agreed to carry out its orders,” Tephe said, ignoring the observation. “See that it is prepared to do so by eighth bell of the Dogs. For now I am allowing it to rest.”
“We must first discipline it for acolyte Drian,” Andso said.
“No,” Tephe said. “It has had enough discipline for the day. I need it rested more than you need to punish it further. Do I make myself clear.”
“Yes, Captain,” Andso said. Tephe walked off toward his quarters to stow his chest, and then to the bridge, where Neal Forn, his first mate, waited.
“Have we an engine?” Forn asked, when Tephe was close enough that his question would not be overheard.
“Until Triskell, at least,” Tephe said, and turned to Stral Teby, his helm. “Triskell on the imager, Mr. Teby.”
Teby prayed over the imager and a map of stars lifted up, floating in a cube of space. The Righteous symbolized at the far edge of the map, Triskell diagonally across the cube from it.
“Sixty light years,” Forn said, looking through the imager. “A hard distance in any event. I have no wonder why the god took its pause.”
“We have our orders, Neal,” Tephe said. “As does the god.” Tephe rubbed his left palm, which had begun to throb. “Stay at post,” he said. “I will be back before evening mess.” He exited toward sick bay, to see if healer Garder was far enough along with acolyte Drian to tend to his own, smaller wound.
The God Engines, by John Scalzi: Subterranean Press | Amazon
“If J. G. Ballard and H. P. Lovecraft had ever collaborated on a space opera, the results might have been like this: ferociously inventive, painfully vivid, dispassionately bleak and dreadfully memorable.” — Publishers Weekly
And away we go.
I am on the edge of my seat until I get this from Sub Press.
Wow! So glad mine is on order.
Sub Press books are always awesome. Have you seen the Jack Vance tribute anthology? Lovely.
I am sad there isn’t an ebook coming out with it. I just got my Kindle for Christmas and have plowed through Old Man’s War and the Ghost Brigades on it so far. I was really hoping to be able to continue with The God Engines. Once I finish the OMW series, I’m sure I’ll definitely pick it up.
What made you write dark fantasy this time around? Just a change of pace?
Indeed. One of the reasons all my limiteds and shorter works are at Subterranean is because the work they do is top line. Another reason is because as a publisher they are scrupulously fair and honest with authors, and I believe in working with people who have earned trust.
There was no grand plan, I just had an idea that was dark fantasy and I worked on it.
I had no idea this wasn’t out yet – I saw a copy at B&N nearly two weeks ago. Is this a bad thing?
“He found blood on the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other…”
What is it that I’m missing that makes the start of this sentence easier to parse? I tripped over this and had to skip it because I just couldn’t make sense of it.
I would have still gotten paid for it, so, no, it’s not a bad thing.
Also, this chapter has just convinced me to go buy the book NOW. Self-marketing FTW.
Subpress delivers the most gorgeous books. I’ve been wondering when this was coming. Yay! I can’t wait now.
Holy craps, that was a riveting first chapter. I can’t wait to get my hands on the whole thing.
Ha! I’ve purposely ignored every post of yours about this book, John. I wanted to be surprised, and I have to say that I really am. This is a brilliant batch of words, and it’s safe to say that this book will scamper quickly up my reading list.
Good job, and thanks for posting this.
Excellent! I’ll pick up a copy asap.
I’m having the same problem as Steve D with the first paragraph.
“Captain Ean Tephe entered the god chamber, small lacquered, filigreed chest in hand. He found blood on the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other, and the god prostrate in its iron circle, its chains shortened into the circle floor. ”
I can’t parse this.
Not going to keep me from buying it. It defiantly has my interest.
sigh… once again I am compelled to empty my wallet. You are evil!
Whew! It’s not just me then. I was afraid I’d have to quit drinking before noon.
Steve D. Isn’t just you. I had to re-read three times and I still don’t get it.
Hmm. Interesting. Makes me want to read the book. I like how you get the meaning of the title immediately.
I didn’t get it until the third or fourth parse.
“He found blood on the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other…”
That should diagram the meaning of that part of the sentence. “Spurting one” refers to blood, “on the other” refers to the deck.
It makes sense, though it is a little awkward.
Posted too quickly. Wanted to add:
Want want want want want want.
Which I guess is the raving fanboy’s way of saying, “You just made yourself a sale, there, Mr. Scalzi.” Very intriguing – I’m totally looking forward to reading this, as soon as enough coin of the realm graces my coffers.
Subterranean is a wonderful niche-filler of a publisher. Once again, the cover art is very nice. That background stone look is a great textural element. The guy in chains looks very Loki to me.
jp: Your parsing is confusing. The paragraph is awkward.
Thanks JP, can read it now.
No E-Book!? I love your work John but now that I’ve been reading books electronically for several years I just can’t bring myself to read physical books anymore.
As much as I’m interested in reading it, I’ve got plenty of other choices from publishers who do release e-books. Hopefully your publisher will come around. If you had the book available electronically (ie: Kindle) you’d have a sale tomorrow. If not, then you’ve at least lost my money. For authors, my wallet is all I can vote with, and for novels, I will only purchase e-books.
Thank Vincent Chong, the artist. He is excellent.
Re: The blood/deck parsing: Interesting. I didn’t see a problem with it (obviously) and it passed copy-edit muster, but some folks trip on it and some folks don’t. I’ll make note of it for future ease of sentence parsing.
Oh, well. If you only read eBooks at this point, you’ll have to wait to read this one.
I had to re-read that bit as well, but it does indeed parse:
— “blood on the deck,”
— “an acolyte”
— – “spurting one [blood] and”
— – “lying shivering on the other [the deck], and”
— “the god prostrate”
— – “in its iron circle,”
— – “its chains shortened into the circle floor”
Ah, I’d thought it might have been a typo: ‘wan’ rather than ‘one’.
Oh that looks good. I too will have to wait for the ebook, as I gave up physical books three years ago. I read so much and travel overseas, the extra bag I would have to tote just for books is not feasible.
Although rumor has it none of us can read now for the last hour of our plane flights these days. I am trying to clarify that with TSA, if it is all newspapers, books, magazines as well.
That is going to drive me crazy.
I will wait, there are a couple of books I am waiting for, so I will add this one to my list. Some of which I get from your Big Idea list.
@24 Patrick, Subterranean Press does sell some books, including “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded”, on Webscriptions. So there is a chance it will show up there.
bah the link didn’t work. http://www.webscription.net/showmanufacturer.aspx?ManufacturerID=6&SEName=subterranean-press
Actually, Hate Mail should have been removed from there, because Tor has has the electronic rights now. I’ll have to get that fixed. “Coffee Shop” is still good, however.
I would guess the sentence was originally:
“He found blood and the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other, and the god prostrate in its iron circle, its chains shortened into the circle floor.”
Copy-editing changed the “and” to “on”, and screwed up the parsing. With “and” it’s quite a good sentence; it appears to read badly at first, and then it finishes properly, producing a pleasurable sensation in the reader.
The first chapter apparently tantalized several people, but all it did for me was convince me to avoid this one.
My basic response was ‘WTF?’ with no curiosity for understanding the bizarreness….and that “acolyte spurting one” is the first spot that you lost me. It is totally unclear what the acolyte is spurting – it can’t be blood because that is not referred to numerically (one cat, two cat, one blood, two blood).
If the summation on the back provides some clarity as to what is going on I might be re-enticed….
Man, it’s three o’clock in the morning here, and my mind is now too far downstream to sleep. I need another fix. What a sweet read. I love Scalzi’s writing style. It reads fast, fluid and meandering like a river. The fluidity of his prose reminds me of the black brook behind my grandmother’s house on Cape Breton Island, as a child. I didn’t know where it came from or where it was going, but carry about my paper boats it did, time and time again. I still remember the weekend I read OMW. I tore through that book. I’m going to tear through TGE in one sitting. I’m ordering it later in the week. Thanks for mainlining my drug of choice this early morning.
The sentence is as I wrote it, actually. The copy editor did no harm.
That said, do we really need to go on and on about this single sentence? There are many other sentences to consider.
If you want us to comment on different sentences, we will need more of the book to read.
Looking forward to the eBook version to go with my copies of Old Man’s War, Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. I hope this one is a huge bestseller and that you make mucho $$.
Nonsense! The excerpt contains hundreds of them!
But an “A” for effort, there.
Waiting impatiently for my copy to arrive… I bet you cross-border shipping into Canada is going to suck and take up more time than necessary.
Oh, that’s delicious. Absolutely delicious. And just bumped this book up on my reading list.
I, too, would buy instantly buy this book if it were available on Kindle.
As tempted as I am to buy the book, I’ve swore to reduce clutter. Books are my biggest source, hence the Kindle.
And by “Dreamsongs” I meant “Songs of the Dying Earth”. Why does my brain translate that to “Dreamsongs”? Ah well.
Wow. Just… wow.
Off to order now.
Darn you, Scalzi, and your self-promoting ways. I AM intrigued.
Ye gods, what a beginning. I’m hooked! :)
Great start! Sucked me right into the story.
Count me as anothing person tripped up by that sentence about the blood on the deck. (spurting one what? lying on the other what? why does this confuse me?). Though confused by the syntax I got the basic meaning and continued reading.
We quibble over this sentence because it stands out the most, possibly it stands out so much because it’s only the second sentence and we readers have barely begun to form an image of the scene. But if you like, I can pick another… :-)
It’s not out in the UK yet, sadly. Will it be available in other countries eventually?
It is good. Scalzi doesn’t waste anytime sucking us in, does he? It’s he had powers, you know?
Damn it…I don’t (normally) read fantasy
That’s all right. I don’t (normally) write it.
Put my name on the wait-list for the electronic edition. Living in a 30 foot motorhome, I don’t have the space or weight for paper books, unless they’re work related reference books.
Shit. I’d been hoping to avoid using up another chunk of the Amazon gift card I got for Christmas ($160/$200 already gone) but you, sir, have convinced me to buy your damn book. I would have anyhow, but I would have gotten through some of the ten other books on my to-read list (including The Three Musketeers, The Stand, and other nice short reads like that) before going out and purchasing yet another one. But no-oo. You had to post an excerpt you evil man. And I, of course, had to read it becuase it was in my RSS feed and it said “Whatever” on it. This I have to buy the fnording book and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.
Keep up the good work.
Well, your evil scheme worked..After the first chapter teaser, I just ordered the hard copy instead of waiting for the Kindle version as I had planned. So outta my beer budget to yours: Cheers..
Need to read… the rest… can’t wait… AHHHHH
Way to go John!! I see another Hugo nomination and win in your future!!
Thrilled to find this! I’m forwarding the link to other Scalzi-fans. I’m most likely to obtain the full work when I can load it on the Kindle, but don’t mind the wait. It’s delicious, dark stuff, and an interesting melding of modes. Very intrigued!
How long before the book is also available in audio book form. I buy hard back copy, and I also listen to them on my mp3 player. Thanks
Interesting. I’m more of a fantasy nut and don’t (normally) read sci-fi and so far this still reads more like a sci-fi than the fantasy it’s marketed as. Not that it’s a bad thing! I rather like the mix…(so put away all those torches and pointed sticks!) I’ve never read any of Scalzi’s books but just might go get this one if I somehow happen to find myself in a bookstore while running errands today.
We’re hung up on that sentence because it’s that one sentence that, er, hangs us up. Everything else flows with your usual zen-like clarity.
I’m on the phone w Borders, waiting on hold as they checks to see if they have one in stock yet.
So, after this book, there will a Trilogy(tm) set in this universe?
We’ll have to see how it sells.
Oh, wow. I’m not much of a novella person, but now I have to read the rest of this.
I’m intrigued enough that I want to read this now, and I haven’t read any of your books before.
That said, I cast one more vote for an eBook (I will probably wait until it’s available electronically) and I also agree that “an acolyte spurting one” is confusing and badly worded. (Sorry, I sense you’re getting tired of people harping on it, but really, if so many people’s first impression of the book is that there’s a confusing grammatical error in the second sentence, I think that should tell you something.)
Excellent dialog. I don’t do fantasy, but I’ll buy this.
Just hope there’s no dragons or elves.
There’s no dragons or elves are there?
In the book, I mean. I already know there are no dragons or elves in real life.
Honestly, people, that wasn’t a hard sentence to parse. Try this one:
(Delany, from Dhalgren.) Hint: to a limited extent, it’s self-descriptive.
Am I the only one who finds parsing cleverly-constructed sentences absolutley delightful?
As for the excerpt: I definitely want to read the rest! But…am I the only one who hopes the god kills them all, destroys their ship, and defeats their godsdamned Lord as well?
Well, as noted, some people seem to trip over it, others don’t, although the ones who don’t for obvious reasons don’t stop to mention it, as they also don’t mention the other sentences they didn’t trip over. However, the book is printed and shipping, so even if I wished to change it there’s nothing to be done about it now. It is just one sentence.
I do think it’s safe to once again say it’s been noted, future discussion of it here will just serve to annoy me, please let’s move on.
If you find either a dragon or elf in your copy, it’s because someone other than me slipped in there. Probably a dragon. Or an elf. Can’t trust either, you know.
Much as I’d like to read it I’ll sadly have to pass until we hit the space age and books become available in digital form. :(
Is there any timeframe for release outside of the US? Amazon’s shipping charge to Australia is almost 150% of the book price.
The only publisher for TGE at the moment is Subterranean. I suspect that some Australian specialty stores might get copies shipped, and thus might be cheaper to check with some of them.
Totally rocked! I can’t wait to read the whole thing, and soon.
I’ve been watching the B&N website for this for a couple of weeks. Its status has been strange to say the least. Up until early last week, according to the website, it was due in stores on the 28th. On the 27th its status changed to “out of print” and a regular search for “the god engines scalzi” doesn’t even return a hit, but I could find it by searching by pub date. And right now I can’t find it at all.
Fantastic! Like (evidently) some others, I have completely avoided all previous posts about TGE but this sampler has convinced me it is worth Paying Attention to it.
A will read more.
Must concur, however, that the one/other sentence was impossible to understand. I just skipped it and kept reading.
Wow. I loved that chapter. Will defintely get the book.
And here is for Scalzi writing more dark sci-fi/fantasy. Let’s hope the novella sells well.
Wow. I have to say, the title is rather more… literal than I expected. Will definitely pick this one up!
(And put me in the “not fazed by the blood/deck wording” column.)
Philip and Marcos, John asked us to move on. Let’s not annoy the man in his own house, shall we?
thanks for the sample chapter… I think. Now I need to buy it. Sigh.
A quick question – any difference to you or Subpress if I buy it from Subpress directly or Amazon? Amazon has it for $13.50… while I’d like to save the money, I’d hate to short you or Subpress.
We make marginally more if you buy from SubPress directly, but you know, if we didn’t want you to have the option of buying from Amazon, we wouldn’t have put it on Amazon. So, really, buy it from whomever you prefer.
Speaking of which, TGE just cracked into three figures on the Amazon rankings; it’s currently #906. Thanks, folks!
Very interesting. I am not a reader of fantasy, but I am now captured by your novella. You continue to impress me.
Looks like it’s going to sell well..Time to get on the sequels..
Heh. Have a few other things on the schedule first.
Any idea what shipping method subpress uses for the books going to .au?
I’ve seen a number of Sub Press titles in the Galaxy bookshop in Sydney, so that is one possibility. Me? I just order it direct from Sub Press. Our dollar ain’t doing too bad now and by the time the bookshops get it we’re paying almost double what we would if we’d ordered it direct.
I just happen to have the last box I got something from Sub Press and it looks like it came via Air and the US Postal Service. From memory it was quick too. Sub Press packaging is brilliant by the way. It is secure and well padded. Amazon has slipped quite considerably in this regard over the last couple of years, especially when shipped from the US. Amazon UK isn’t quite so bad.
Kudos Sub Press.
Interesting Mr Scalzi.
It’s nice to see your tradition of catchy first sentences intact.
I don’t expect full answers here, but, do you explain how the gods came to be chained? Or how exactly they provide the engine? I find myself curious as to how people and things arrived at that point.
Does the “circle” get explained? I mean, I can sort of figure out its like a circle of protection or something. But, maybe there is more to it than that.
How do you pronounce the names yourself? To me ‘Tephe’ = ‘Teff’
Is that how you say it? Or do you say ‘Teffee’
Not a big deal, just curious.
Just ordered my copy. *happy dance*
And I went and spent all my Christmas money already. More’s the fool, me.
Stick that idiom in your pipe and parse it!
Chuck – John has a long and glorious history of saying “That’s how you pronounced that huh? Neat.” and then moving on. I will be truly gobsmacked if he actually answers that straight up.
Gobsmacked, I say.
You can put me in the eBook wanting category…except I couldn’t wait and but the dead tree edition a week ago! This puts you in the company of good Mr Gaiman as the only Dead Tree Editions I’ve bought all year. Looking forward to reading this, in fact I’m even avoiding the sample chapter because I hate to wait, and reading that will make the wait all the more worse.
One more reader who tripped over the sentence, had a moment of “WTF? Scalzi doesn’t usually write unparseable sentences”, and then just ignored it and went on. I’m sure you’re quite tired of hearing about it by now, so moving on.
I’m VERY much looking forward to the e-book. ^_^
Amazon number at the moment: #743
Which makes me wonder who is buying stuff off Amazon in the wee hours of the morning.
re: up in the wee hours: I deliver pizza, so sleep days and am awake nights/early mornings. I already ordered my copy from SubPress though.
The sentence that most jumped out at me (out of the several hundred that were striking) was:
Teby prayed over the imager and a map of stars lifted up
Fascinating. Apparently everything in that universe runs on brainpower? Psychic emanations? Gods can run spaceships, regular folk can run computer consoles?
*waits patiently for book to arrive*
So I’m right in thinking I should be able to buy this at a brick and mortar soon, yes? At least one person seems to have found this at a B&N, although mine didn’t have any copies yesterday. I prefer to buy things in stores when I have the option, but if I’m going to have to wait a while I might as well Amazon it while my wife has gift cards left. :-)
With this particular book, Amazon may be the best way to go. You can always go to B&N to pick up the trade paperback version of Hate Mail, which comes out Tuesday.
Amazon currently indicates: “Usually ships in 1 to 2 months” Say What?? * hoping that’s bad data*
It’s bad data. They’re getting their stock this next week.
TGE isn’t available at What the Book? in Itaewon yet. OMW series is at the warehouse somewhere, but not on the bookshelves. I keep telling the rotating uni-clerks to get some Scalzi, Stross, and Wright on the bookshelves. All their SFF is late 90s, early 00s. I can’t believe The Graveyard Book isn’t in-store. Hmm, maybe it’s time to invest in a Kindle. But can you even download ebooks overseas?
MBL @ 91: It’s unpossible that someone could have seen this at a brick and mortar store already, as we’re shipping to those who ordered direct from us first, and that process has just started.
jp@19: Thanks, now I get it.
Scalzi, this is quite a change from your usual work. While I like your usual work, I like this a lot. I think overall, the style has a richer flavour than your usual work. And I never imagined you’d write something predicated on the amount of cruelty in this opening chapter.
I’ll have to work out one of the ways to get it in Australia.
Here’s another vote from a fan for an ebook edition. Thank you.
I wonder if a free ebook with ads inserted would make sense? Or no ads. But, if Doctorow’s hypothesis is correct (I assume it’s a hypothesis held by his publisher also?), then giving away an ebook will increase paper sales. I think Scalzi needs to put the hypothesis to a test. Not that I would bother with the ebook. I’d rather have an audio version. Not trying to be offensive, just wondering what the future holds for paper sales.
Thank you, and wish you much success with this. Started out reading “The Android’s Dream” and then OMW, and the rest of your ouvre.
Looks Good !!! Will be a fan for a while !
I would just like to state that I had no difficulty in parsing the sentence “The healer Omll muttered over the acolyte.”.
I’ll keep you posted on future sentences.
The sentence “The god giggled into the iron its mouth was mashed into and flicked its tongue over red lips” parsed fine. I had a problem, however, with “A priest stood over the god, just outside the circle.”
This made me think that the priest and the god were outside the circle as the one was *over* the other–and thus that the god had somehow escaped from the circle between sentences three and four and was about to wreak bloody havoc.
How did people do with the sentences in the second paragraph>
Wow. That definitely beats the hell out of nuclear power…but I’m not entirely sure an enslaved god would be much more safe? I wonder what Greenpeace would say to that?
Oh its just about gods and stuff…
Oh its driving a space ship?
Oh, wtf is goin on…
Buy buy buy.
Great first chapter. Definitely on my list to read… pulled me in… I had a little issue with the dialogue between Andso and Tephe, who was speaking and doing what… but that is likely my problem.
Can’t wait to read more.
Dude, this chapter has the worst third sentence in the history of things with more than three sentences! How do you sleep at night?