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The Difference Engine (1990)

by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,880871,667 (3.28)169
The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the development of steam-driven cybernetic Engines, is in full and drastic swing. Great Britain, with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine-guns and information technology, prepares to better the world's lot ...… (more)
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» See also 169 mentions

English (82)  Dutch (1)  Romanian (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
did not finish, couldn't take the prose ( )
  sarcher | Feb 25, 2024 |
I usually love Gibson but although I thought it was incredibly creative, I just couldn't get in the groove with this book ( )
  mlmccafferty | Aug 13, 2023 |
Para um leitor com uma afinidade maior ao steampunk, a ideia de um mundo em que a computação a vapor e seus engenhos chega já a produzir resultados - análise de dados, cálculos complexos, veículos arrojados, cavalos de corrida mecânicos, armas arrojadas, supremacia britânica, várias ondas de luditas, os primeiros já convertidos em empresários ou sindicalistas, uma meritocracia tecnológica com força política - na época vitoriana, esse livro pode ser lido com mais calma e então saborear seu universo. Mas como não é exatamente o caso, acredito que a união entre personagens críveis, mas talvez por isso, de atitudes atrapalhadas, e mesmo espalhafatosas, como no caso de Mallory, mais um enredo convoluto, que além disso acena para personagens e fatos históricos, bem como teorias computacionais... Essa união dificulta a leitura. É como não entender a direção da narrativa ao mesmo tempo que achar as decisões dos personagens grosseiras. ( )
  henrique_iwao | Aug 30, 2022 |
Victoriana w/computers, but not many women. And, the plot is a mess, but does anyone read Gibson for his plots? ( )
  linepainter | Aug 15, 2021 |
So I'm teaching a course on Steampunk and Philosophy this coming spring semester (team-teaching, to be more precise), and I'm admittedly not an expert in Steampunk literature. I am, however, somewhat more expert in science fiction as literature, thus my involvement. I thought it would be a good idea to reread this Gibson novel I'd read but didn't remember well. I might as well have been reading it for the first time, I remembered so little of it.

What a gobsmackingly good book, this. Like his other novels, Gibson is not always easy to read, and not in the deceptive complexity I've come to expect from Le Guin or even the deceptively not-simple prose of Dick. He can be dense, and is here. But it is so worth it. Really, it's not the love of polysyllabic language that Neal Stephenson suffers from on occasion, either, but something else. In Difference Engine, it's the choice of alternative history as his SF form, his fragmented narrative and shifting perspectives, his decision to have not only the setting in Victorian England but also the narration reflect certain sensibilities. I don't know. It's late for me, and I've only just finished. It will hopefully make more sense later before I have to talk about it with younguns. There were times when I asked myself "what the hell is going on here," only to giggle later as I asked again, "what the hell is going on here, indeed!" Honestly, by the time I finished the book (an hour ago), I was enjoying the ambiguities so much I almost didn't want the final collection of artifacts that give more context to the history the narrative exists in. Almost.

It all pays off, in the way that alt histories often do for me. I of course thought of The Man in the High Castle, although the discomfort of the "true" mixed with the fiction of the narrative is really the only point of comparison so far. Maybe more will come later, and I certainly will be thinking on this point in the future, but both Dick and Gibson (yes, I know there is a co-author, but honestly the only voice I heard was Gibson's (no, I haven't read anything else by the other guy (yes, I know that's not fair (no, I don't care (yes, right now I'm just playing around with parentheses))))) make good use of this reader's discombobulation. Dick deals more with the metaphysical aspects of authenticity and reality, though, and Gibson seems more interested in the traditional "what-if" aspect of both alt-history and SF generally. Ok, I'm getting off track here.

Regardless, this book is very much in keeping with Gibson's other writing, his other persistent themes and subject matter-- the latter of which is fascinating given the technological differences present. I very much enjoyed it, and very much look forward to it's role in my coming class. ( )
1 vote allan.nail | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
In de vorige eeuw werd door Charles Babbage een mechanische computer ontworpen, die echter bij gebrek aan technologische kennis en de juiste materialen niet gebouwd kon worden. Deze roman speelt zich af in een Engeland waar dat wel kon, met als gevolg dat al rond 1850 de maatschappij diepgaand veranderd is door computertechnologie. Ook andere zaken zijn in die wereld anders dan de onze: zo is de dichter Byron premier van Engeland geworden en de Verenigde Staten zijn nooit verenigd. De plot betreft een politieke intrige, draaiend om een stel computerponskaarten die een blauwdruk vormen voor een nieuwe generatie computers: niet langer mechanisch maar elektrisch. De auteurs zijn coryfeeën van de 'cyberpunk': science fiction die gaat over de toekomstige ontwikkelingen van de informatica. Hier hebben ze een roman geschreven zoals een 19e-eeuws auteur van cyberpunk die had kunnen schrijven. In dit opzicht is het een tour-de-force. Bovendien is het spannend en goed geschreven. Enige kennis van het 19e-eeuwse Engeland maakt de lezing van het boek nog aardiger, want het bevat talloze toespelingen op kunst en politiek uit de 19e eeuw.
added by karnoefel | editNBD / Biblion
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gibson, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sterling, Brucemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Brumm, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Randazzo, TonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schütz, NeleCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Composite image, optically encoded by escort-craft of the trans-Channel airship Lord Brunel: aerial view of surburban Cherbourg, October 14th, 1905.
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The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the development of steam-driven cybernetic Engines, is in full and drastic swing. Great Britain, with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine-guns and information technology, prepares to better the world's lot ...

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