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The Difference Engine | [William Gibson, Bruce Sterling]

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 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 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.

©1991 William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (164 )
5 star
 (23)
4 star
 (55)
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1 star
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Overall
3.2 (141 )
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Story
3.9 (140 )
5 star
 (41)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Delano Philadelphia, PA, United States 04-22-13
    Delano Philadelphia, PA, United States 04-22-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    132
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    24
    FOLLOWERS
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    3
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Starts strong, falls off"

    First of all, Simon Vance does an amazing job with this book. All kinds of British accents, and he nails each of them. The perfect ideal of expressiveness without melodrama from start to finish. So this is what a professional sounds like. If only I could get serious nonfiction books narrated with this level of talent.

    The novel: written by two people, and it shows. It gives the impression that they worked together for a while, agreed to work separately on the rest, and then both mailed in half-baked work when they ran out of time. The first 1/3 is absolutely gripping and fascinating. The next 1/3 is a mediocre action story climaxing with a gunfight in a burning warehouse (the ultimate action cliche). The last 1/3 is told as a series of disjointed fragments revealing large chunks of leftover plot, as though the writer didn't have time to weave them together to give pacing and complexity.

    I felt the book was worth my time, but ended up mourning the much better novel that could have been if the high standard of the first section had been kept up.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy NJ 10-03-11
    wendy NJ 10-03-11 Member Since 2004

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    273
    ratings
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    101
    43
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    28
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    Story
    "Great Story!"

    William Gibson & Bruce Sterling are both fantastic authors & together they wrote a really great story!

    Excellent listen - highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Canada 03-28-13
    Donna Canada 03-28-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    5
    4
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    "Simon Vance is excellent as always, Gibson not so"

    The performance of this story is first rate, the story however I think tries too hard to include every notable figure of the era and in doing so loses something in pacing and structure.

    Still a story worth listening too, just not first rate.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Kaechler Bruceville, Texas 04-02-14
    Jason Kaechler Bruceville, Texas 04-02-14 Member Since 2005

    TechnoPhile

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not all that good"
    Would you try another book from William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and/or Simon Vance?

    I have read (listened to) some other Gibson books, and I quite liked them. However, this one was difficult to get thru, hard to follow the storyline, and in the end the storyline seemed to be completely useless. Not gripping at all.

    The readed did do a good job, it is just the story that didnt....


    Has The Difference Engine turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Probly not


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Good characterization


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    A Nap


    Any additional comments?

    Don't.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerry Hilts Portland, OR, USA 03-04-13
    Jerry Hilts Portland, OR, USA 03-04-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
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    251
    11
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    "Pretty good, but not Gibson good."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Sure, but not before reading Gibson's other stuff.


    Did Simon Vance do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Vance did an adequate job of establishing different voices, tones, and accents for the various characters in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I finally got around to reading The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. I'm not sure how they spit up the writing duties, but it just didn't feel like a Gibson book to me. Perhaps it was Sterling's voice (this is the first of his books I've read), or perhaps it was that the alt-victorian setting is so different from other Gibsonian worlds like Blue Ant or The Sprawl, but world of The Difference Engine didn't feel as rich as those others. "Rich" isn't really the word I'm looking for. Perhaps "textured" or "vivid" would be better, but they don't feel quite right either.All in all, it was a pretty good story, well told. If you haven't read Gibson's other stuff though, I'd recommend starting there. I'm especially fond of the Blue Ant series: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Dorsey Schenectady County NY 12-24-12
    K. Dorsey Schenectady County NY 12-24-12 Member Since 2012

    KYEKYS

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Loved It!"
    Where does The Difference Engine rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is the first I've listened to from Audible.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characterization by the reader set the town for the book.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    On occasion, laughter, but mostly rapt attention.


    Any additional comments?

    Looking forward to the next selection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel P. Schmaling Seattle 01-10-12
    Joel P. Schmaling Seattle 01-10-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    2
    1
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    0
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    Story
    "Plodding, boring, hard to follow..."
    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    I always enjoy Simon Vance as reader, unfortunately the story didn't match his talents.


    Any additional comments?

    For me, this book was a waste of a credit.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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