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1 Hawthorne Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z

Infernal Devices


Infernal Devices Cover

ISBN13: 9780857660978
ISBN10: 0857660977
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

He inherited a watchmaker's store — and a whole heat of trouble.But idle sometime-musician George has little talent for clockwork. And when a shadowy figure tries to steal an old device from the premises, George finds himself embroiled in a mystery of time travel, music and sexual intrigue.

A genuine lost classic, a steampunk original whose time has come.

About the Author

K.W. Jeter is a respected American novelist who wrote what was likely the first true cyberpunk novel, Dr. Adder, which was enthusiastically recommended by Philip K. Dick. His many original novels range between dark noir-horror and visionary science fiction. He has also written several authorized sequels to Blade Runner (aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). The author lives in Las Vegas, NV.

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Cora, October 14, 2013 (view all comments by Cora)
J. W. Jeter wrote Infernal Devices in 1987. He also coined the term Steampunk to describe the new Victorian books he, Tim Powers, and James P. Blaylock were writing. I wanted to go back to Steampunk's beginnings, and since Jetter is one of the touchstone authors, I decided to read Infernal Devices first.

The Story

The narrator, George Dower, runs a clockwork shop, which he inherited from his father. His primary problems is that he knows little about clocks and makes a living accepting small jobs his assistant can handle. George's life is uneventful until an "Ethiope" comes into the shop and convinces George to try and fix one of his father's complicated clockwork mechanisms. The "leather-skinned" man gives George a strange coin, and the Victorian adventure begins.

George is curious about the coin, and, putting the mechanical device aside, sets out to investigate the coin's origins and meaning.

His adventures twist and turn in every imaginable way. He winds up in the seedy part of town, is in trouble with A Ladies Union for the Suppression of Carnal Vices, falls in with a criminal who speaks in 20th century American vernacular, repels numerous sexual advances, and is betrayed by nearly everyone.

The story might be described as Monty Python meets the Pink Panther in Victorian England. Humor runs throughout the tale. There are lots of clockwork devices, which George cannot manage and often destroys. Most of the social problems and issues of the era are addressed in a dark brooding atmosphere.

"The Complete Destruction of the Earth" chapter is funny, and for a while I thought the story might take a better turn, but alas, for me, it didn't.

My Response

On an intellectual level I like the story and see value in what Jeter is doing. However, to be truthful, it took me an agonizingly long time to read it.

Here are the strengths of the book:

•the humor,

•an honest look at the dark side of Victorian life and the social issues,

•the automatons and clockwork gadgets,

•Scape and the sexually aggressive women, who were far more interesting characters than George.

Here are the issues I had with the book:

•the Victorian language--I know I'm supposed to love Dickens, but I don't; the language is tedious and puts me to sleep;

•the first person narration; George is an unsympathetic character, which was my biggest issues--I really didn't care what happened to him;

•the unrealistic and often contorted plot twists, which I either figured out or suspected.

Since I love Monty Python, Douglas Adams, and Terry Pratchett, it's a little odd that I found this a difficult read. I think, if you like Victorian language and are engaged with a protagonist who is thick and naive, you'll enjoy the book. It's not bad. In many ways, it's excellent, but for me it was flat.
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Product Details

Jeter, K. W.
Angry Robot
Fantasy - Historical
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Historical
steampunk;science fiction;fiction;fantasy;sf;novel;london
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
6.89 x 4.17 x 1.06 in 0.4 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » Historical
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Steampunk
Science and Mathematics » Featured Titles in Tech » Computers

Infernal Devices Used Mass Market
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Product details 384 pages Angry Robot - English 9780857660978 Reviews:
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