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.
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.
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.
A fantastic blend of two of contemporary literature's best. Seamlessly transporting the reader to a Victorian London at once strange and familiar. The Difference Engine evokes a visceral connection to a period of pivotal social and technological innovation.
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William Gibson & Bruce Sterling are both fantastic authors & together they wrote a really great story!
Excellent listen - highly recommended.
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....
Sure, but not before reading Gibson's other stuff.
Vance did an adequate job of establishing different voices, tones, and accents for the various characters in the story.
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.
This is the first I've listened to from Audible.
The characterization by the reader set the town for the book.
On occasion, laughter, but mostly rapt attention.
Looking forward to the next selection.
I always enjoy Simon Vance as reader, unfortunately the story didn't match his talents.
For me, this book was a waste of a credit.
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