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Well, it has happened: I have finally read a John Scalzi story that I actually liked. The God Engines is a very tight story about a future spacefaring humanity which relies on harnessing the powers of captive gods for spaceflight; there are a number of very good set-pieces as Ean Tephe, the central character, deals with shipboard crises, confronts his own ecclesiastical hierarchy, takes on a colonial mission, and finally particiaptes in a battle where the stakes are much larger than he at first realises. There are strong elements of horror and some nasty violence; and while Scalzi doesn't turn it into a polemic on religion, he does pick around the edges of religious belief and obediance in a way that I found satisfying rather than undergraduate. My favourite of the Hugo-nominated novellas so far, though I still have Nancy Kress and Charlie Stross to go.

Not Scalzi's fault at all, but I had some difficulties with reading the story. Over the years I have read dozens of e-books by converting them from PDF to Mobipocket format and reading them on my handheld (the good ol' Palm T|X in the old days, more recently the Blackberry). For the first time I can remember, the capitalisation in The God Engines was screwed up, the two main characters appearing as "ean tephe" and "croj andso" rather than "Ean Tephe" and "Croj Andso" and the first letters of sentences often appearing in lower case too. (There were other glitches too: one sentence in the Mobipocket version, split by a page break in the original, reads "They would reach for the coins with one hand and throw trash and rotten John Scalzi things at the passing god with the other, shouting as they did so.") Presumably the publisher (or possibly the writer) thought they were doing something clever with the font setup.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:09 am (UTC)
Note that the updated Hugo Packet includes rtf versions of most works, including TGE.
I read TGE as a PDF prior to nominating. I didn't convert it to ePub, as I thought the illustrations etc made it worth reading while restricted to one place.

Thanks for your reviews, I'm finding them helpful.
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:25 am (UTC)
Indeed, converting from RTF greatly improves the presentation, though it doesn't iron out all the glitches and rather oddly we lose the numbered chapter divisions.

Charlie Stross's "Palimpsest" actually comes in .prc format as one of the options which suits me fine.
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
I'm guessing those capital letters were formatted as small caps rather than as actual caps.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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