Elizabeth's Reviews > Infernal Devices

Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
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's review
May 28, 2012

did not like it

Jeter coined the term 'steampunk' in 1987, to describe the Victorian-esque retro-technology, alternate-history works that he and his friends were writing at the time (sort of post-cyberpunk). There's actually a short essay about steampunk at the beginning of the edition that I read (Angry Robot, 2011) in which Jeter discusses his thoughts about the name, the genre and what it all means.

I am neither a fan nor a detractor of Steampunk but I found Jeter's essay somewhat grinding when he states that:

"A fascination with Victorian tech is at its heart a salutary acceptance of the machine-ness of machine - and correspondingly an acceptance of the humanity of human beings. There's something nauseatingly pre-digested about the look of late 20th and early 21st century industrial design, all those Steve Jobs-approved rounded edges like cough lozenges sucked on for a moment before being spat out into your hand. Whereas Victorian machines, with their precision-cut gears and spurred mantis armatures are unabashedly themselves, rather than trying to smoothly cozen themselves into your life."

Mac versus Steam engine

Which machine would you allow to cozen itself into your life?

Now, I enjoy the beauty of old machinery, it's truly stunning at times. But I fail to see how a Macbook is any less 'itself' or any more attempting to be 'human' than a grandfather clock or steam engine. Maybe that's just me. I'd love to hear someone else's opinion so please let me know what you think (assuming you think about steampunk and the anthropomorphic nature of various machines at all which, to be fair, I suspect might just be me).

To be honest, whilst I didn't love the essay I think I prefer the essay to the novel. Sorry K.W. Jeter but this ain't going to be pretty!

Review of the actual book is on my youtube channel:

This review first appeared on The Quantum Geek.

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Reading Progress

May 28, 2012 – Shelved
June 6, 2012 – Started Reading
June 6, 2012 –
page 51
June 6, 2012 –
page 51
June 8, 2012 –
page 167
June 9, 2012 –
page 384
June 9, 2012 – Finished Reading

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