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Books Described Badly

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling


Book cover for The Difference Engine

Among the most metal books I've ever read.

So impressed with this one. Bruce Sterling's level-headedness had a moderating effect on William Gibson's instinct for abstraction. If you like seeing "punk" genres in their nascent stages, Gibson's a good dude to look for. He wrote an early example of cyberpunk in Neuromancer. The Difference Engine is one of the earliest examples of steampunk you can find.

It's cool to see how these anal-retentive researchers decide to reimagine well-known historical figures in a world made different because of advanced computing a hundred years too early. A lot of names who got famous for being attached to poets, for example, totally miss that part of their careers. These dudes become essentially computer nerds. They have the right amount of lateral thinking and imagination.

Fun. And weird.

This book described badly: if you became a computer nerd in 1855, you got to be a member of a cultish shadow organization that runs the government!

I quite enjoyed everything about this book. Its only shortcomings were the things not in it. Like there was no resolution for Ada Byron, one of the inventors of the titular Difference Engine, and Lord Byron's real-life daughter who designed the thing. I would have liked to see that.

A solid 1010 out of 1010.

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