In its surprising final third, when assumptions are overturned, beliefs are challenged, and our heroes’ sense of what’s right and wrong in the universe is thrown into chaos, The God Engines shifts into high and redlines right across the finish. The climax is as visceral as anything Scalzi’s ever done.
Heh, heh, heh. “Visceral.” It is indeed an advisedly-used word in the context of the book’s climax.
That said, my favorite part of the review is this bit, in which the fact that TGE is wholly unlike anything else I’ve had published is considered:
[A] very different Scalzi has written The God Engines. So different, in fact, that I suspect what really happened was that John’s evil twin Spike chewed through his ropes, emerged from the crawlspace, disabled John with an impressive series of hapkido moves rated 8/9/9.5 respectively by John’s cats, and then left the poor man bound and gagged in an amusing position in the garage while writing the story and cackling to himself. I’d like to think that, because it’s one of those things where reality is probably less fun.
Yes, well. I could go into great detail about why it was I wrote something completely different than all the other stuff I write, but I think instead I will tell you a possibly enlightening, possibly entirely unrelated story about when I was a boy, and I was playing a schoolyard game called “Danish.”
The actual rules of Danish are not really important to this story. What you need to know is that it was played on a netless volleyball court on the playground of Ben Lomond Elementary, and the goal was to hit with your fist a racquetball that was pitched to you, and then run around a set of bases before someone caught the ball or tagged you or another runner with it. One salient feature is that you could have as many people on a base as you wanted, all waiting for someone to hit the ball far enough for them to run home.
In the game of Danish, there were generally two kind of hitters: The kids who sort of blooped the ball lightly into the “infield,” and the kids who swung as the ball as hard as they could, banging it out into the field behind the volleyball court. When the infield hitters were up, the other team would call their players in; when the outfield hitters were up, kids would fan out into the field to catch the ball. You can generally guess which kinds of kids were infield hitters and which ones were outfield hitters.
I was, possibly not surprisingly, pegged as an infield hitter. Which by and large didn’t bother me because I mostly didn’t care about the game of Danish; it was just another game we played for our PE slice of the day. But one day, I don’t know, maybe I was in a bad mood about something, or maybe something else had tweaked me a bit, and we were playing Danish and when I came up to the “home base” (the corner of the volleyball court), all the kids in the outfield trotted in to take up places in the infield.
And I very clearly remember thinking the following words: You think you know me. And then the racquetball got pitched to me, and I whacked it far into the outfield, and by the time the other team retrieved it, everyone on base and I had run home. And after that day, whenever I was up to bat in Danish, no one in the outfield ever moved in, because no one felt certain they knew where I was going to send that racquetball. And you know what? I liked that a whole lot.
And that’s my possibly enlightening, possibly unrelated tale.