The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling It is a prime example of the steampunk sub genre It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and

  • Title: The Difference Engine
  • Author: William Gibson Bruce Sterling
  • ISBN: 9781441894380
  • Page: 191
  • Format: Audio
  • The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling It is a prime example of the steampunk sub genre It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer called Engines The fierce summer heat anThe Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling It is a prime example of the steampunk sub genre It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer called Engines The fierce summer heat and pollution have driven the ruling class out of London and the resulting anarchy allows technology hating Luddites to challenge the intellectual elite A set of perforated punch cards come into the hands of the daughter of an exicuted Luddite leader who sets out to keep them safe and discover what secrets they contain.

    One thought on “The Difference Engine”

    1. STEAMPUNK SALAD3 (5-ounce) cans solid Victorian Era packed in water1/2 cup minced Bruce Sterling1/2 cup minced William Gibson1/4 cup Technological Speculation1 hard-boiled Spy Thriller, chopped in large pieces1 soft-boiled Detective Tale, finely minced3 Major Characters, lukewarm1 Mysterious Box of Computer Punch CardsSalt and Pepper1/2 teaspoon AmbitionSTEP 1Place Victorian Era in fine-mesh strainer and press dry with paper towels. Transfer to medium bowl and mash with fork until finely flaked. [...]

    2. My Shakespeare professor was ravishing: clever and ebullient, and never to be found without knee-high leather heels. I drew playbill covers while she lectured, and gave them to her at the end of class. One day I went to her office hours and there they were, all arrayed upon the wall above her desk. Life is the better for beautiful, passionate people.One day, at the end of class, she beckoned me over: "Are you going to turn your next paper in on time?"Of course, I answered, non-chalant, with a cr [...]

    3. Ach, I wish I could recommend this book more highly, but I was very disappointed in it.Perhaps my expectations were too high, given how much I loved Gibson's "Neuromancer." However, "The Difference Engine" was over-long. The plot threaded together slowly. The character development of central characters was fragmentary and tended toward the superficial. The writing of the action scenes was unbelievably bad - the reader could barely piece together what was happening, and it almost made no sense. T [...]

    4. ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, two major SciFi powerhouses, joined forces to produce The Difference Engine, a classic steampunk novel which was nominated for the 1990 British Science Fiction Award, the 1991 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1992 John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Prix Aurora Award. I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version which was produced in 2010 and read by the always-wonderful Simon Vance.The Difference Engine takes place in [...]

    5. A dense, dark book. Full of amazing ideas and richly realized settings and gadgets; whetted my appetite for steampunk. I know I missed a lot and might be willing to reread it at some point to pick up more. But the plot is full of holes and jumps and places where the authors seem to have lost interest and wandered off into something else. Why spend the first 100 pages establishing Sybil as a major character and then send her away for the next 300? Why place so much emphasis on the French cards an [...]

    6. Ok, so as far as I can tell, this book pretty much invented a lot of the steampunk trappings we take for granted. And the world-building is seriously awesome. There's some fascinating alt-history, lots of SCIENCE!, and mies and miles of clockwork computers running everything. The great horse races are replaced by mechanical guerneys, Japan makes wind up dolls out of whalebone, there's even a weird kind of digital animation. The whole thing is put together exceedingly cleverly. First rate world-b [...]

    7. This book is pure brilliance. As all the other Gibson books I have read, the ending kind of dissolves into mist, leaving you with questions and giving you a lot of room to imagine and pursue ideas -this being a very positive thing, actually. I think Sterling's style gave Gibson a grounding tug, so the whole ending chapter is about closure, something Gibson doesn't always work well with, but this one made me go back and forth to refresh character, and I had open to read the biographies of the hi [...]

    8. I give this two stars because I quite enjoyed the first 50 pages or so. Then it was crap from there on out. (Well, I assume the rest was crap, as I only read another 50 pages of pointless drivel before deciding not to waste any more of my precious time.) It was odd. The first 50 pages formed a reasonably complete, self-contained, and satisfying short story. I don't think those pages were intended to be that way, but they were. Then another chapter started with totally different characters that h [...]

    9. As many others have pointed out, this book is one of the first in what we now know as the Steampunk genre. It explores the question of what would happen if the Industrial Revolution and the development of the computer had coincided—what would Victorian society have looked like? It’s a complex novel, with a lot of layers. I read most of it in airports and on planes and didn’t have the best circumstances to be able to concentrate on those details. On the other hand, if it had been really riv [...]

    10. Sometimes it *really* pays to re-read a book.I wasn't very impressed when I first read this book. My favorite character at the time vanished with about forty pages left, and I didn't find the end compelling.I can't remember when I first read the book, but it was years ago. Now that I'm older and have both read more and experienced more, I feel I got a lot more out of the book. I actually found Laurence Oliphant's struggle with his beliefs more compelling than Edward Mallory's accidental heroics. [...]

    11. To find the story of The Difference Engine, first dig through a layer of Victorian-Era British slang, followed by a layer of alternate-history jargon. Next, carefully remove a rocky patch of shifting perspectives and unclear motivations. After that, you'll be faced with a bloated stratum of physical description so detailed and uninteresting you'll be tempted to speed through it, barely glancing at the muddy mixture while you shovel it out. I suggest you give in to this temptation. And what's you [...]

    12. This is based upon the idea that computers were invented much earlier in our history. How would that have changed things? This is a big absorbing read.

    13. I have absolutely no idea how to rate this book. Parts of it are fast-paced and great. And parts are really slow and some are plain boring. Since I am not quite sure and I want to be fair, I'll leave it somewhere in the middle. I did kind of like it, after all. The book is divided into five parts (iterations) and it takes place in a very dark XIX century London. Everything that happens to the characters in this story somehow ends up connected to a wooden box full of punched Engine cards, but not [...]

    14. Did you read Neuromancer and say, "This was good, but it could have used more steampunk?" That's kind of how one might describe The Difference Engine: Neuromancer meets steampunk. It's not a comprehensive, completely accurate description, but if that's sufficient for you, you can stop reading now and go read the book.Still here? Cool.William Gibson is on my "I must read everything by him!" shelf, and his influence on literature, particularly science fiction and subgenres like cyberpunk and steam [...]

    15. rating: 5.5/5 One of my all-time favorites. Originally published in 1990, it predates many of the current steampunk novels and manages to think outside the box of clichés that many modern novels have fallen into.This novel examines an alternate history in which Charles Babbage builds a ‘difference engine,’ a forerunner of modern computers that runs on steam (it is composed of gears and utilizes punch cards). World history diverges; engines become common changing Victorian England significan [...]

    16. When I read Neuromancer, I started out not understanding a thing that was going on, but finally made sense of everything by the end. When reading The Difference Engine, I had the opposite experience. The first segment was fully comprehensible, but afterward the book just turned to mush. What in the world happened? Who were all these characters? What was the conflict and what was at stake? Don't ask me, because I haven't a clue. I got more and more irritated as I got closer to the end and had to [...]

    17. Yuck yuck yuck. Bad action, bad dialogue, bad characters. The worst of all, though: the world was wonderfully designed, but the plot was so meaningless and boring. What a waste of a grand environment to set such a terrible story.Some collaborations combine the strengths of all involved into something extraordinary. Others magnify the weaknesses. This is a fine example of the latter: the ending is the greatest WTF in modern history.

    18. Alright, so it was a bit of a jolt to my system, as I haven't read anything set before 1900 in quite some time (I KNOW! HORRIBLE!), which is a shame. Once I got over the culture (which was rather disparaging to a variety of people who were not white men) as you have to do with things set in history, I rather enjoyed most of this book. The book is divided between three different main character perspectives, the largest section being given to Dr. Edward Mallory, who is a paleontologist or as they [...]

    19. "The Difference Engine" ("DGE") was a real surprise after reading previously published books by both authors. (I had probably only read "Islands in the Net" and the "Mirrorshades" collection by Mr. Sterling at this point.) I can't even tell you (and won't cheat and look up) if this book launched the "steampunk" genre (I suspect not), but even if it wasn't the first, this is a book to judge others by.Forget it's genre or even sub-genre: this is a great book. It has excellent writing, plotting, ch [...]

    20. I gave this the old college try, getting to page 155 before giving myself permission to stop. I feel bad because I was supposed to read it for a book club but there are a few reasons it just wasn't for me. -Info-dumping. I know many steampunk novels suffer this issue, even in such an early work as this, because people who are really into that kind of novel tend to love the geeky intricate details that build this alternative world. I'm just not one of them. It reminded me of Neal Stephenson in Qu [...]

    21. Well, the world-building is quite interesting, though apparently all the female characters in this alternate Steampunk England are whores or math geniuses, with the occasional murderess thrown in for good measure. Every other social or political movement gets accelerated or represented but not the Suffragists, amazingly enough. Apart from that, many of the secondary characters are way more interesting than the protagonist. The plot is a ramble-fest through the world-building and requires a fair [...]

    22. Reading this alongside The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter.Also: Lovelace and Babbage! <-- This needs to be a book already!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~2.5 stars. Even then, I'm feeling generous.This is set firmly an alternate-reality universe. One where Lord Byron and Anabella don't separate, and he eventually becomes Prime Minister. One where Ada lives and can see her first computer programs become reality. One where Wellington becomes a prime minister and is eventua [...]

    23. In their first major collaboration, sf heavyweights Gibson and Sterling spin an exquisitely clever filigree of Victorian alternate history, sparkling densely with ideas, moored by a challenging subtext of chaos theory and the lessons of recent paleontology. In London of 1855, Lord Babbage's steam-driven Engines (mechanical computers roughly comparable to Univac) have transformed the world, blueprints thanks to Victorian paradigms of science and order. England's hereditary lords have been replace [...]

    24. I feel slightly hornswoggled: I picked this up as research, to see how Lady Ada Byron Lovelace would be handled as a fictional character. As it turns out she is kept in the background through most of the book -- adored, revered and discussed constantly, but rarely seen. Oh well, buyer beware and all that I know it's the founding document of Steampunk and all, but I found it a bit tedious.The Difference Engine exemplifies the difference between a great idea for a book and an actual great book. I [...]

    25. “The Difference Engine” was one of the books on my list as Must Read. The book is written by two if my favourite writers: Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. Both writers played an important role in for me liking Cyberpunk books. This book is one of the first books identified as Steam punk, which is appropriate because the story is situated in Victorian England and plays along the line of the development of steam engines. During the late 80-ties, Steam punk disconnected from Cyberpunk to beco [...]

    26. This is the book that apparently started the whole steam-punk genre, and I can kind of see why steam-punk is so popular. "The Difference Engine" has a fascinating premise: What if the computer age had happened roughly 100 years before it actually did? Part alternate-history sci-fi and part cyberpunk set in the Victorian era, "The Difference Engine" is a fascinating glimpse at a weird alternate universe that bares more resemblance to the 21st century than I think most of us would care to admit. I [...]

    27. First things first: I found this book in the Young Adult section of my local library. Not that teens are not capable of appreciating this sort of book, but it's NOT a YA book. Lot's of drinking, sex, prostitution, and complex historical matter. I'd like to have a chat with the library about reclassifying it. We'll see.The novel was a rich evocation of a Victorian England pushed too soon into industrialism, rife with social uprisings, class conflict, and intrigue. It's part steampunk science fict [...]

    28. Rats. I really hate it when I'm left underwhelmed by something I had hoped to love, especially something that's supposed to be a seminal work, a classic, of its genre. I had heard wonderful things about this book. Then I was really turned off by the first few chapters. I didn't like the characters, and the attempts at dialect where painful. But then the most obnoxious of the characters became less relevant, so I thought things were looking up. And for the most part things were. The rest of the b [...]

    29. I think this is one of those books that is incredibly original at the time it is written, and then is so often imitated that it seems rather pedestrian when read in hindsight. One of the first of the Steampunk genre, it envisions a mid-19th century London that runs on coal and incredibly sophisticated Babbage difference engines (a mechanical computer based on gears rather than electronics) and fed by punchcards. It reimagines history (though doesn't do a great deal with much of it) into an alter [...]

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