Customer Reviews for

The Difference Engine

Average Rating 4
( 34 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Best Alternate History Novel I've Read

This is an excellent novel. Many of the main characters (if not all) are historical figures whose life paths have been rewritten somewhat by the authors to fit into the overall alternate universe they inhabit. I have a weakness for novels that educate as well as entert...
This is an excellent novel. Many of the main characters (if not all) are historical figures whose life paths have been rewritten somewhat by the authors to fit into the overall alternate universe they inhabit. I have a weakness for novels that educate as well as entertain, and within it's covers I found many interesting tidbits of information (such as the etymology of vitriol). The plot moved quickly enough to keep me interested, and the exploration of scientific theories and technical issues added flavor. I haven't read any other Bruce Sterling works, but if you are a fan of William Gibson, and historical novels, chances are you will enjoy this book immensely.

posted by 2267126 on November 24, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Difference Directionless

After having read several books by both William Gibson and Bruce Steriling the conclusion is unamimous. Both authors have a great sense for unique exciting new ideas but, when it comes to placing such concepts in a full legnth novel, the ideas get lost in a directionle...
After having read several books by both William Gibson and Bruce Steriling the conclusion is unamimous. Both authors have a great sense for unique exciting new ideas but, when it comes to placing such concepts in a full legnth novel, the ideas get lost in a directionless collection of smaller stories that are haphazardly strung together. The trouble lies in a lack of building any sense of anticpation; foreshadowing exists not at all. As a result, the novel is nothing more than a group of loosely related happenings strung together by only the thinnest of threads. What is need is being able to leader the reader, bit by bit, to an ending that culminates with all the situations coming together in either an anticipated ending that explains the storyline in an exciting way or, if the situation warrants, an ending that is contrary to where one is lead to believe it might have been -- a'la the Twilight Zone type taled. Neither Mr. Gibson nor Mr. Sterling seem to have a solid grasp for any of this when it comes to creating a novel, instead both seem better at home in the realm of writing short stories where their talents truly shine.

posted by Anonymous on February 9, 2003

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2009

    Best Alternate History Novel I've Read

    This is an excellent novel. Many of the main characters (if not all) are historical figures whose life paths have been rewritten somewhat by the authors to fit into the overall alternate universe they inhabit. I have a weakness for novels that educate as well as entertain, and within it's covers I found many interesting tidbits of information (such as the etymology of vitriol). The plot moved quickly enough to keep me interested, and the exploration of scientific theories and technical issues added flavor. I haven't read any other Bruce Sterling works, but if you are a fan of William Gibson, and historical novels, chances are you will enjoy this book immensely.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2001

    For another take on this....

    I completely disagree with the previous review by my fellow state - resident. I thought the book was imaginative, well-written, and a hell of a lot of fun. btw i'm a mathematician / programmer by profession, and didnt feel talked down to by this book...a rarity in sci-fi and speculative history.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2003

    Difference Directionless

    After having read several books by both William Gibson and Bruce Steriling the conclusion is unamimous. Both authors have a great sense for unique exciting new ideas but, when it comes to placing such concepts in a full legnth novel, the ideas get lost in a directionless collection of smaller stories that are haphazardly strung together. The trouble lies in a lack of building any sense of anticpation; foreshadowing exists not at all. As a result, the novel is nothing more than a group of loosely related happenings strung together by only the thinnest of threads. What is need is being able to leader the reader, bit by bit, to an ending that culminates with all the situations coming together in either an anticipated ending that explains the storyline in an exciting way or, if the situation warrants, an ending that is contrary to where one is lead to believe it might have been -- a'la the Twilight Zone type taled. Neither Mr. Gibson nor Mr. Sterling seem to have a solid grasp for any of this when it comes to creating a novel, instead both seem better at home in the realm of writing short stories where their talents truly shine.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    the novel holds up well against the test of time

    In 1855 as the Industrial Revolution continues to pollute the big cities of England, Charles Babbage creates the steam driven analytical engine. The Luddites learn of this incredible advancement and vow to destroy this new use of technology that heralds the beginning of the Information Revolution. Mick Radley obtains key perforated cards, but when he is murdered the cards pass to his girlfriend Sybil Gerard who deals with General Houston and the Texian.

    Prime Minister Lord Byron's daughter Ada obtains the cards, but soon scientist Edward Mallory possesses the cards, but needs the Babbage analytical engine to read them. The Luddites attack him and his name. Eventually detective Lawrence Oliphant, who is dying from syphilis, investigates the mystery of the cards.

    The 20th Anniversary Edition of this complicated alternate history thriller shows the novel holds up well against the test of time as the London of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling remains an intriguing locale. Although the overall fast-paced plot decelerates at times especially in the middle of the Third Iteration and the finish not up to the complex story line, The Difference Engine is an engaging mystery set in a steampunk Victorian environment. With a Modus adding insight, sub-genre fans will enjoy this reprint.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome world-building; Disappointing ending

    What I appreciated about this steampunk book was that it didn't have the unrealistic supernatural/gothic element (vampires, werewolves, elder gods, etc.) that are in so many books of the sub-genre. It is just good, solid alternate history world-building. However the ending was disappointing / anticlimactic and a bit hard to understand since it was told in a completely different style than the rest of the book (via newspaper clippings).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2007

    Long, Slow, Boring Read

    I usually love William Gibson books but I'm half way through this one and I'm bored and tired of it already. There seems to be no direction or suspense in anything I have read so far and I don't know if I can actually finish it. I may save it for when I have nothing else to read but thats about it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2014

    To A

    Hmmmmm..........u r so talented and u have me on the edge of my seat. What happens next. Jade

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    He's The Difference Part 3 ♥ A

    "Hi! You must be Grace." A boy with curly dirty blonde hair and green eyes smiles at me as I enter McDonald's with Luke. "Yeah. Um... I don't believe that we've met." I say politely. "Oh! Sorry. I'm Ashton, Luke's friend." The boy, Ashton, shakes my hand and I smile. Then I look at the other boys that are sitting with Ashton. "I'm Calum." A boy with black hair and brown eyes waves. "And I am Michael Clifford, not the big red dog though." Michael laughs and the other boys stiffle a laugh. "I don't get it..." I trail off. "Clifford the big red dog? Don't you watch T.V.?" Michael asks. "No. I'm actually not allowed to watch T.V." I smile. All the boys' mouths open and I look down at my feet. "Let's get some food." Luke suggests and I smile at Luke, gratefully. Luke smiles back and walks me over to a counter. "Wow..." I whisper to myself as I see the menu. "What would you like to try?" Luke asks me as I skim the menu. "A Big Mac? How is it?" I look at Luke. "Good choice. I think I'll get that as well." Luke smiles. I blush and look down. Why am I blushing? Why is there a weird feeling in my stomach? It's like butterflies. The kind I get before I get before a test but this time it feels good. Luke tells the lady behind the counter our order and leads me back to the table. "Heyyyyy! Why is Grace looking at her feet?" Calum asks. "I don't know." Luke shrugs and sits down. The only seat left is next to Luke. So I sit down next to Luke. It's because of you, you idiot! Is what I want to say. "Just being shy." I whisper. *LATER* "Oh my god! So this is a park?" I gasp as I see a playground and a pretty little sports field. "Yeah. You've really never been to a park before? Not even when you were little?" Luke asks me. Ashton, Michael and Calum left for some reason. I can't remember why. "Never. My parents are to worried that I'll fall into the wrong kind of crowd if I ever go outside." I say. "Wow. That's kind of sad... let's play on the playground!" Luke smiles the biggest smile that I've ever seen. He dashes toward the playground and I giggle as I run after him. *LATER* "Thank you for today." I smile up at Luke. "Hey! I just wanted you to live a little. No need to thank me." Luke smiles back down at me. "No. I do need to thank you. My parents would never let me do this. God, I've never even touched that front door until today. I was always locked up in the study or in my bedroom. I've never had a reason to try to look good. Most times I just wear sweatpants and an undershirt. This is incredible and new and I can never thabk you enough." I say. Luke stares into my eyes and he looks as if he is thinking. But it's different. It's like he's trying to tell me something. Luke starts to lean in and I find myself doing the same until our lips meet.*************** AWWWWWWH! &#9829 A

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    A hard read, but...

    Great read, at some times difficult. Don't expect typical Gibson. Definitely will look up Sterling now!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    A Classic of a Subgenre Before it Existed?

    I liked the novel...the prose itself was great, and at times was great at building up a sense of atmospheric dread. Having read this book only after the whole 'sreampunk' thing blew up, i can' t fault the authors for taking me over territory that might seem almost tiresomely cliche and done to death. Gibson and Sterling write this before cyber or any kind of 'punk' was probably still a legitimate subculture cranking out actual new and original ideas. I wisd ai had read this earlier- other than that great book with an interesting yet kinda concepty afterward explaiination by the authors of why the ending seems so fragmentary and apparently dissapointing to some.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

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    Posted March 9, 2012

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    Posted May 7, 2009

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    Posted January 28, 2012

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    Posted July 29, 2011

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    Posted December 24, 2011

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    Posted January 20, 2014

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    Posted October 21, 2011

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    Posted December 15, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2009

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