Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Infernal Devices (Infernal Devices, #1)” as Want to Read:
Infernal Devices (Infernal Devices, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Infernal Devices

(Infernal Devices #1)

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,711 ratings  ·  388 reviews
HE INHERITED A WATCHMAKER'S STORE - AND A WHOLE HEAP 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. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 7th 2011 by Angry Robot Books (first published December 1st 1986)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Soulless by Gail CarrigerLeviathan by Scott WesterfeldBoneshaker by Cherie PriestPerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Best Steampunk Books
1,102 books — 4,379 voters
Soulless by Gail CarrigerChangeless by Gail CarrigerPhoenix Rising by Pip BallantineBlameless by Gail CarrigerLeviathan by Scott Westerfeld
403 books — 638 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,711 ratings  ·  388 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Infernal Devices (Infernal Devices, #1)
mark monday
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Steampunk, ahoy!

And hey, did you know that Jeter coined that term?

Remember when those fantastic adventure tales whose main goal was to tell a fast-paced story with some interesting ideas used to clock in under 250 pages and could be enjoyed in one long afternoon? And didn't have sequels? Probably not and I'm probably dating myself. It is nice to be reminded that such things were once fairly common. Maybe authors these days are afraid of being seen as somehow disposable or too lightweight. And w
May 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Things I learned from K. W. Jeter in this book:

1) ALL women are only thinking about one thing. If they are Sexy, then they are sex-crazed animals who will rip off a man's clothes as soon as look at him (this is Logic) no matter how loudly he protests the indignity and begs her to control herself, madam! Alas!

2) If a woman is Not Sexy (i.e., middle aged and/or overweight) then they are on a mission fueled by jealousy and frustration to stop ANYONE EVER even THINKING about sex, ever again.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Good:
There were some cool ideas here, and the Victorian setting is a firm favourite of mine. The first person voice – an extremely proper English gentleman – is very well done.

The Bad:
Some of the ideas are a bit childish and stupid. Plus the characters are just unbelievably one dimensional, and their dialogue is bad. The only two women in the story are two different kinds of nymphomaniac; one is the street smart, gung-ho nympho while the other is the rich, nasty type. I guess that makes them
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

I keep bouncing back and forth on whether to give this one or two stars - though I'm pretty much sticking with the 1.5 either way. My dilemma is that while I didn't really like it, per se, I didn't actively dislike it, which is what I usually use 1-stars for, but I didn't like it, either.

I guess, for the most part, it was "ok", and I was going to give it a 2-stars for most of the book, but the ending left me feeling kinda "wtf?", which is why I was thinking of dropping it down. But it did hav
Infernal Devices as a steampunk novel is not nearly as famous as its author is for coining the phrase steampunk. I think Jeter may have simply said the first thing he thought of, not realizing that the term would stick.

This new edition of the novel attempts to capitalize on the recent popularity of steampunk fiction and well it should in my opinion. The novel is a prime example of a genre I love but tend to nitpick over, so do not let my rating discourage interest. I continue to float between 3
I've had this book vaguely on my mental list of books that might be interesting for a long time, but I picked it up on pure whim. I'm interested in how many low reviews it has: I think the problem is that people expect something great and marvelously written from the book that inaugurated such a huge cultural phenomenon as steampunk. It's not that. It's fun, silly, often ridiculous, and in no way intended to be taken too seriously, I think.

It's a juxtaposition of ideas, written very much in the
Oct 06, 2013 marked it as dnf
I marked this as did not finish a few nights ago, and then I looked at how many books I had marked "DNF." Shamed, I woke up my Kindle once more and attempted to keep going.

I should have listened to my gut.

For most of my life, even if I hated a book, I would read it. The whole goshdurned thing. Then I would say, "THAT WAS SO AWFUL WHAT A WASTE OF MY TIME NGHAAAH!" or some such incoherent gabbling indicative of anger. Strangely enough, when I started working in a library, I started abandoning book
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a fun early steampunk book. The character seemed to just reel from disaster to disaster with no time to adjust. It was fun.
Amy Sturgis
This is one of the pioneering works of steampunk, and I'm glad I read it. It has many of the staples of the subgenre, from the Victorian setting to clockwork men, from time travel to not-so-mythical creatures (in this case, selkies). There are several well-crafted moments of ironic social commentary. It's easy to see how this wry and imaginative tale helped to set precedents for what followed.

That said, I didn't really enjoy this as a reading experience, despite Jeter's always-elegant prose. The
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Infernal Devices is a dark and humorous account of events which almost destroyed the Earth. The story is then told by George Dower in retrospect, going back to the moment his faithful manservant Creff entered his room and told him he has a visitor, a "crazed - a murderous savage!".

Dower inherited a shop from his genius father and he is trying to get by repairing what he can. A surprise visit from that strange man marks the beginning of Dower's adventures. Next thing he knows there are burglars
Kat  Hooper
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

George Dower's father was a watchmaker, but he didn't just make watches. Some of his special customers knew he was a genius with all sorts of gear work. When his father died, George inherited the watch shop. Unfortunately, he didn't inherit his father's genius. He can sometimes manage to fix a customer's watch if he sees that a part has worn out, or something else obvious is wrong, but that's about it. He's completely flummoxed when a strange brown man bri
Ringman Roth
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked parts of this book, but overall there wasn't enough steampunk in it. The main character's personality was rather boring, and the pacing was all over the place. Furthermore, there were some really silly, "out - of place" elements in this book.

Warning Spoilers ahead!

I'm talking about the fish people. At first I thought this was some kind of lovecraftian(Shadow over Innsmouth) element, but the fish people serve no real purpose to the story. Most of them are part of a prostitution ring. You
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012, steam-punk
K W Jeter was one of the first writers of steampunk and the man who coined the term itself. Infernal Devices is an enjoyable romp written in a pastiche Victorian style with tongue firmly in cheek a lot of the time, it gently mocks it's pompous formal and stolid narrator who is put through a series of bizarre encounters featuring scenarios and characters who have since become tropes of the genre. The science and the explanation of the story events are a bit preposterous but it doesn't take itself ...more
Nov 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Infernal Devices is the first novel I've read in the now well-defined steampunk genre. Steampunk, as I understand it, is set exclusively in a Victorian setting, but contains many of the tropes of standard science fiction, including advanced technologies (though most rely on steam for energy, as opposed to electricity), time travel, alien beings, mysterious plot twists, and juvenile sexuality. While it has its roots in classic proto-sci-fi writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, it was refine ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it liked it

Lots of fun in one of the original steampunk books!

The beginning of this book, while slightly slow, is full of amazing descriptions of life in Victorian London -- you honestly feel like you could be there yourself, which, considering all the things that ooze and stink, wouldn't be such a great thing.

George Dower finds himself embroiled in mystery and intrigue after taking over his deceased father's watch shop. Of course, having no mechanical abilities himself, he's having a rough go of it -- he
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
I'd give this a 3.5 if it were possible because there is a lot to admire about this book - the first steampunk book literally (Jeter coined the term in an interview) and that fact alone is enough to get the stars rising. You can see where several authors got inspiration from this book - pseudo-Victorian language mixed with some far out ideas and mechanical devices both ahead of their time and unnaturally effective in their abilities. Plus fish folk and puritanical movements dedicated to rubbing ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Although short in length and not a difficult read, it just didnt work for me. Some of the dialogue and scenarios Mr Dower were involved in just seemed overly comical. Steampunk has never been my favourite genre and having heard this was considered the founder novel of its kind, I gave it a shot. There seemed to be alot of waffle.
Sep 15, 2012 added it
Shelves: audiobook
If you need to fake your way through a Steampunk cocktail party, here's what you need to know about Infernal Devices and K. W. Jeter:

a) Jeter jokingly coined the term "steampunk" in a 1987 letter to Locus to describe "Victorian fantasies," which he predicted were going to be the next big thing (unclear whether that prediction was a joke);
b) this book involves the mechanically inept son of a clockwork inventor, who has inherited dear old dead dad's London shop, full of mysterious clockwork pieces
Melissa McShane
I went into this knowing that it was a very early example of steampunk fiction, so if the science/steampunkiness was lacking, I wasn't going to mark it down for that. And it turned out that the science/steampunkiness was very good! Lots of clockwork things and people, and you can tell that Jeter came out of the same primordial puddle as Tim Powers. The plot was also pretty good. It was the characters that killed it for me.

Basically, the hero, George, is a gormless panty-waisted wuss of the first
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
More properly referred to as "steampunk" than sci-fi, and written in Jeter's kinetic style, it follows the hapless son of a famous victorian mechanical inventor. He's constantly mistaken for his rather more talented father, which ultimately puts him in the middle of a plot to destroy the planet (to clean things up of course) while riding it all out in a pneumatic carriage or some such.

More than almost any other book I've read I'd love to see this made into a feature film.
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steampunk completists
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2013-04 Science Fiction Selection
A lot of imagination went into this book, but not enough discipline or storytelling craft. For the majority of the book, the author shoves the first-person narrator through inexplicable and astonishing events, and then crams their eventual denouement into a few pages via telling instead of showing, when other characters explain to our befuddled protagonist what was happening.

For most folks, that would probably be enough to shove this down to a one- or two-star rating, but I'm more generous. What
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So, this book basically invented steampunk, I'm a bit of a fan of steampunk and yet I had never thought it necessary to read this. Part of me thought it would be like the tripe that is most of the genre these days, but I really should have given the inventor a bit more credit.

I didn't have the issue that other readers have had with the language and the confusing science. Having read Jane Austen, the language in this book was comparatively easy, and the confusing science I just sort of went with
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book took me a little by surprise. When I hear the term 'steampunk' I image trains, elaborate dinner parties with mad inventors, a duel with pistols, things along those kind of lines. What I found in this book was fun. There were mad scientist type characters, a sex crazed thief, a strange race of fish people, a mechanical violinist with human aspirations and a lame little Jack Russell. Needless to say I will be searching out more of Jeter's books.

This book centres on the son of a genius m
Feb 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Mr. Dower gets chased. A lot. The end.
Ted Gilbert
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
It’s been on my agenda for some time now to explore the works that make up the “first wave” of steampunk literature. The cohort of authors that comprise this moment are generally considered to be K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers, and James P. Blaylock, with various proto-steampunk authors, most notably Michael Moorcock coming before, and Bruce Sterling and William Gibson’s The Difference Engine following shortly. Like many current devotees of the genre and the culture, my main exposure to the literature h ...more
Kara Babcock
Infernal Devices is the story of George, an unremarkable man with no major talents who has inherited his father’s watchmaker shop. Various zany characters show up and drag him into an intricate conspiracy reminiscent of H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, and mostly, in my mind, Jules Verne. K.W. Jeter propels George through increasingly dangerous, nonsensical, over-the-top adventures powered by steampunk, bravado, and sheer imagination. This is an adventure in the classical sense, and as a work of lite ...more
The book was fine.

The more I think about "Infernal Devices" and its protagonist the more I can come up with things to complain about, but in the end I still enjoyed the book. It reminded me a of other books like "The Crying of Lot 49" or "The hitchikers guide to the galaxy" in that the main character is supposed to be an affable every-man who keeps getting bounced from one madcap set piece to the other and is never not in way over his head. Or even really knowing what is happening. Now just beca
Kyle Brooks
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
First and foremost, it should be noted that Infernal Devices, while marketed as a 'steampunk' novel IS NOT A STEAMPUNK NOVEL. It is a comedic satire of the 19th century adventure stories of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. It is also a satire of Victorian life and the spy thrillers of the 20th century (those one dimensional sex-crazed female characters are making mockery of the reserved ladies of the Victorian age as well as the single-minded Bond girls). However, this is also a darn good mystery fil ...more
Victoria Nunez
Mar 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020
This was a waste of my time. Period. Nuff said.

After 300 pages the protagonist (and I) may have gotten an explanation as to what instigated his never ending series of misadventures - but did he grow as a person? Absolutely not. Did I learn anything new besides the fact that I should not continue a book solely because the plot is fast paced? Nope.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads Win Copy

We meet George Dowell who father has left him his watchmaker shop but does not know anything about fixing them or any other mechanical devices. Suddenly there are strange people visiting his shop and things that belonged to his father are stolen.

George finds himself in the middle of things that he does not understand. Enter a world of steam punk where time travel exists as a new adventures arises.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Difference Engine
  • Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)
  • The Anubis Gates
  • The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard
  • A Kingdom Under Siege (Wardens of Issalia #4)
  • Broken Glass (Glass Complex #1)
  • Rick Steves' Barcelona
  • Younger
  • Upgrade (Human++ #1-3)
  • (R)evolution (Phoenix Horizon #1)
  • Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop
  • Ticker
  • A Princess of Mars / Gods of Mars / Warlord of Mars / Thuvia, Maid of Mars / Chessmen of Mars / Master Mind of Mars / Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom #1-7)
  • Diamond Cut (Glass Complex Trilogy #3)
  • Wolves of Eden
  • CHESS FOR BEGINNERS: Fundamental strategies to learn how to play chess for Absolute Beginners: a move by move guide to know the rules, basics, tactics, and the best strategies to win.
  • The Expectant Dad's Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know
  • Jon Ronson's Adventures With Extraordinary People
See similar books…
Kevin Wayne Jeter (born 1950) is an American science fiction and horror author known for his literary writing style, dark themes, and paranoid, unsympathetic characters. He is also credited with the coining of the term "Steampunk." K. W. has written novels set in the Star Trek and Star Wars universe, and has written three (to date) sequels to Blade Runner.

* Doctor Adder

Series contributed to

Other books in the series

Infernal Devices (3 books)
  • Fiendish Schemes (Infernal Devices, #2)
  • Grim Expectations

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
41 likes · 12 comments
“And if I were to open you up - would you see anything less remarkable? Less intricately dazzling, in its squelching, spongy way? Lungs and heart and spleen, and all the rest - ticking away, as it were? Yet you walk down the boulevard, and pass any number of such wonderful devices, all ticking away as they walk, and think it no great marvel.” 8 likes
“What is the future going to be like, then?'

'Hey, it's gonna be a gas,' Scape assured me. 'If you're into machines and stuff - like I am - you'd go for it. People are gonna have all kinds of shit. Do whatever they want with it. That's why it didn't faze me when ol' Bendray first told me about wanting to blow up the world. Hey - in the Future, everybody will want to!”
More quotes…