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The Difference Engine

Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.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 executed Luddite leader who sets out to keep them safe and discover what secrets they contain.

©1991 William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-02-2018

putting the steam in steampunk

Simply put this is a brilliant book. I started off not knowing much about it and that made the experience more profound.

It is set in an alternative Victorian Britain in which steam powered computing devices called "engines" dominate the society. It is a wonderfully way out concept.

The story consists of separate Iterations which each unfold and initially appear unconnected but progressively the connections between the stories multiply to great narrative effect.

In reference to my review title I can safely say that the story did have some saucy svenes which were surprising considering that they were Victorians. Unlike certain books dealing with a number of shades of a boring colour I can say that these scenes are well written.

In fact the whole book is supremely well written and as the mark of a truly good book the only bad thing about it was that it came to an end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Edward Scott-Clarke
  • 15-09-2018

Great story, brilliantly read

A very talented narrator reading a wonderfully written book. Mr Vance brings the whole thing to life and each character is given a distinct identity. Great work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Old and grey
  • 09-11-2017

The Diffetence Engine

Not up to the standard of William Gibson's more recent novels: I had difficulty following the plot with this one. It might be better on the page than listening to it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Nick
  • 26-12-2017

Managed about half an hour

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps this book is better on paper, but it was thoroughly unengaging as an audiobook.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Neil
  • 10-06-2019

A hard book to prduce in audio form

The nature of the tale the presentation of the story as a series of artefacts make this awkward in audio form and yet the narrator manages to engage the listener even in the more mundane sections. Highly enjoyable

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  • ross
  • 12-11-2018

terrible and boring

completely uninspiring dull insipid with no direction or destination surprised I didn't give up sooner.
waste of money

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  • critical friend
  • 19-09-2017

Original steampunk and raunchier than expected

Where does The Difference Engine rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top 50, difficult to be precise as different genres and styles.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The main female character (who went by different names). She was integral to the plot and able to be a chameleon in her actions and interactions with others.

Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favourite?

All were good and sympathies changed as this is a mystery with possibly unreliable narrators.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Victorian version of the Matrix

Any additional comments?

Had read this years ago and was struck in this version by how sexy the characters were in supposedly repressed times.

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  • Snuffles
  • 30-12-2016

Brilliantly read.

It's a brilliantly read but the story is a bit disjointed and hard to follow.

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  • Kentoski
  • 13-06-2016

great performance of a really fun book

Vance gives a super performance of the book which kicked off the steam punk genre.

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  • Comrade
  • 25-01-2015

A great story that feels interrupted.

Narration: the narrator throughout was charming and engaging. His ability to make other accents seem his natural born accent was a credit to him... Most of the time.

Unfortunately there were uncomfortable moments in narration. His voicing of women and Japanese men was very awkward and felt off with the descriptions of the characters. I don't see this a a blemish upon the actor himself, but it would have been reasonable to give him a supporting cast rather than rely too heavily on him.

Story: I enjoyed the story, but that in itself made some of the downsides more notable. The story of Sybil Gerard was admittedly boring compared to Oliphant and Mallory, and the story of Oliphant feels like it has been cut short long before it's time. Still, it provided me with hours of enjoyment.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful