The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt. Ace Science Fiction. 419 pages.
I loves me a good hard science fiction book. Jack McDevitt delivers here.
The story is set in the year 2203. Earth is struggling with overpopulation, its natural resources are pretty well depleted, the effects of global warming have set in, and scientists realize that its days are numbered. And so they start looking for other planets where humanity can settle. At the same time, explorers have discovered one, then many statues on other planets that appear to be monuments to one if not several alien races. The language is for the most part indecipherable, and archeologists continue to try to find out who left the monuments as well as what happened to the race or races that left them behind. There are indications that in several instances something cataclysmic happened, and so they are concerned that the same thing might happen to humanity as well. On one planet, there is a race between a team who is given the task of blowing up the polar ice caps to begin the terraforming process that will last close to a century, and another team who is desperately trying to find what they refer to as their “Rosetta Stone,” something that will help them translate the language of the extinct races they have come across. And in all of this is the mystery of who the Monument Makers were, where they came from, and where they went.
It’s a great book. It starts off a little slow, but when you get caught up in the challenges of the archeological team as well as the terraforming team on the other side, it’s hard to put down. The thing I really like about it is the reason I choose to write science fiction as a Christian. It attempts to answer the same questions that Christianity does: Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? And better yet, it doesn’t get caught up in the secular humanist viewpoint that mankind–or science–will come up with all the answers for mankind’s ills. In fact, it shows that science in many cases is the cause of some of those ills.
I believe it’s a series. I won’t spoil the story by telling you the ending, but I will tell you that it’s one of those stories that raises more questions than it answers.
Five out of five stars.