Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Difference Engine
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > April 2018 "The Difference Engine" Discussion <No Spoilers>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Go nuts.


message 2: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
A great steampunk story, which predated the term steampunk by a decade. I've read it a month ago with another group and liked it, while the majority were lukewarm toward it at best. More in spoilers section!
Go read it! Cyberpunk in the age of steam


message 3: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 1 star

Kateblue | 3610 comments Mod
I have read 22% and so far I am definitely lukewarm.

I'm not a steampunk gal, I don't think. I thought that before this book was selected, but I thought I should try more. So far, the only steampunk (I think it is?) that I have actually gotten through was the YA Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, and I was listening to that in the car back when I traveled for work.

Right now I am basically scrolling though this book and looking for the plot to actually progress. I guess the point here is that we are getting into the feeling of the world? Because it is seeming slow to me.

I will read a little more and see if I like it more. Then, if not, I will probably read your spoilers.


message 4: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I have read 22% and so far I am definitely lukewarm."

I guess to like this book you have to like cyberpunk. Do you?


message 5: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Apr 04, 2018 07:51AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kateblue | 3610 comments Mod
No idea if I like cyberpunk. I thought this was the original steampunk book? What's the difference?

At 55% now and still not feeling it. I'm often reading just the first sentence of a paragraph

Thanks!


message 6: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "No idea if I like cyberpunk. I thought this was the original steampunk book? What's the difference?"

Cyberpunk to a large extent was return of geeks to SF after the New wave movement of the 70s. It often depicts a struggle of an individual (e.g. hacker) vs. more or less totalitarian capitalist society, thus the "punk" part.
Nowadays steampunk is more fantasy in the age of steam, without the political manifesto of cyberpunk, which is sad for me.
I agree that the novel doesn't enthrall you like some other books do, but I actually enjoyed the slow pace and multiple references to the real life events and people. Of course if you aren't interested in the period they seem just random noise


message 7: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Man. I miss 4 or 5 days from the group due to a stomach bug and everything has changed! Not really, but man. I see Art has been busy making and modifying his lists, we already have themes for the next few months lined up, and we nearly have 30 members! Welcome to all the newbies!

Well, I haven't read anything in like 4 or 5 days. I didn't want the story to be taunted with a feeling of sickness while reading it. Does that happen to anyone else?

I just bought The Difference Engine and will probably start it today. I look forward to readying cyber/steampunk. It will make for an interesting change.


message 8: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Apr 04, 2018 11:30AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kateblue | 3610 comments Mod
I'm glad you're better, Bryan. I actually noticed you were gone.

Oleksandr, thanks so much for your explanation of this. I have not really paid attention to either of these movements. So there was cyberpunk first and then steampunk right? So cyberpunk would be more futuristic?

I guess my problem is, I like character-based fiction more than other types. These characters are good, but it is more about the world. So I guess it just doesn't enthrall me.

If the "New Wave" movement was when SF got really depressing, that's when I stopped paying too much attention to SF, so maybe that's why I know nothing about this. If friends recommended, or beloved authors issued something new, that's when I discovered new things.

Was Neuromancer one of these? I remember disliking it intensely. And that guy is a coauthor here.

I see we have cyberpunk bookshelf and steampunk bookshelf.
But there is no "New Age" shelf. Could you please give me a few examples of that genre? Thanks!


message 9: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 04, 2018 11:42AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Funny you should say that, I also took a few days off from reading. Had a couple of busy days and was pretty tired and did not feel like starting a new read with my mind not being in the right place.

Hope that all the adjustments and changes are for the best! Any feedback is welcome.

Oh and I have mixed feelings about the novel so far, not to say that I dislike it. I am just uncertain of the degree of my liking it.


message 10: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Man. I miss 4 or 5 days from the group due to a stomach bug."

Sad to hear that, I hope you are better! As to your question about reading while sick, I fully agree that the state of mind (which among other things is affected by the body) has a definite impact on information we process. Usually if I have a fever I just cannot urge myself to do anything, including reading


message 11: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "Oleksandr, thanks so much for your explanation of this. I have not really paid attention to either of these movements."

Actually, I prefer reading SF to reading about SF, so my definitions of sub-genres are more based on a limited info I have and shouldn't be taken as a final ruling or anything :)
Yes, cyberpunk preceded steampunk, the former is early 80s, coincided with explosive growth in number personal computers and oriented toward those early computer enthusiasts (it doesn't mean others cannot enjoy the genre). steampunk gained popularity in I guess early 2000s and 'usual' steampunk (unlike the novel of this topic) is often a mild fantasy but instead of knights and witches it has armored zeppelins and steam horseless carriages
'new wave' combines a diverse set of authors that tried to escape the 'standard' golden age SF of Heinlein, Asimov, Clark... it is so diverse that I cannot define is as a genre, more as a time period


message 12: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (last edited Apr 05, 2018 02:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
oh, and examples of new wave
Macroscope
A Nomad of the Time Streams
both SF and fantasy of Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Zelazny


message 13: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 05, 2018 07:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
I've managed to find a bit of free time to get through a quarter of the book and though I cannot say that the story is particularly engaging, but there is plenty to be said in regards to world building.

I must say it is uncanny how much you get drawn into the atmosphere of the scene that is being described. From brief description of characters's appearances, on to the detailed depiction of the surroundings and topping it all off with dialect-ridden dialogues that pertain to the century in which rhe story is taking place. By the time you have read a few pages you can almost taste the smog, brought on by the Engines, smell the rank of a passing by horse-carriages and hear the hubbub of the city with all its clankings of gentleman's cane, swish-swash of a passing by lady's garments.

As far as the story goes, I have little to comment on, but the atmosphere is absolutely and undoubtedly there. Speaking of which, Kate you might've done a bit of disservice to your own enjoyment of the book by skipping the details, but I can hardly blame you since the plot is not entirely engaging so far.


message 14: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
In addition to my previous post it is worth mentioning that the references to various events, people and places do indeed add to the story, the most of them are really witty and absolutely not feeling forced onto the reader.


message 15: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Yet another thing to add while talking about this book in general is that I find this book worth taking the time to get through (in peace and quiet whenever possible). This is not one of those reads that I would recommend reading while in public transport or reading bits and snippets at a time.


message 16: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Apr 08, 2018 12:59PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kateblue | 3610 comments Mod
Yes, I agree you cannot read this book in snippets. It takes concentration.

I stopped at 55% because my Kindle died and I am currently researching how to repair minijacks that won't charge.

I was able to download the book again and load it on an old Kindle. I find that I am reading much more of the descriptions now that I am further along.

If anybody knows anything about Kindle minijacks, help! There are apparently two reasons they won't work. 1) bad minijack 2) chintzy spot welds that won't hold the jack in the proper position forever. This is the second Kindle that has failed this year for this reason.

I have to figure out how to take the Kindle apart first. My husband is all proud of me because I am watching instructions on U-Tube, awww!

Later!


message 17: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I am currently researching how to repair minijacks that won't charge. "

OK, offtopic, so I'll be brief:
1. cables with minijack plug are interchangeable and quite cheap, so if the cable is the cause then buy/use new one
2. if actually not a cable/plug but the jack then it is often had to be replaced which is hard on many devices even for people used to solder stuff


message 18: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Reading everyone's comments has me feeling like I'm missing something with this book.

It reads well and, like Art said, it doesn't feel forced. There are some witty moments and over all I find that I'm enjoying the writing.

On the other side of that coin, I feel like I'm missing the point of the story. I'm a little past half way through the book and I'm just not really getting it. I figure it's 1 of 3 reasons: 1) there isn't a point, 2) I'm not as much of a fan of steampunk as I thought I was, or 3) I'm not great at fully understanding British authors.

Another downer for me is the sex scene. I found it vulgar. But over all, I'm not into sex scenes. I don't mind knowing sex was had, but I don't like reading details.


message 19: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3397 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Another downer for me is the sex scene. I found it vulgar. But over all, I'm not into sex scenes. I don't mind knowing sex was had, but I don't like reading details."

The same here, I guess it was to show the hypocrisy of Victorian morals and their effects


message 20: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "The same here, I guess it was to show the hypocrisy of Victorian morals and their effects
"



I can see that. Still not a fan of it, lol, but I see what you are saying.


message 21: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 12, 2018 05:29AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "Bryan wrote: "Another downer for me is the sex scene. I found it vulgar. But over all, I'm not into sex scenes. I don't mind knowing sex was had, but I don't like reading details."

The same here, ..."


It being vulgar was probably the whole point of it. Besides what Oleksandr replied, I believe the vulgarity of the scene was there to contrast Mallory's "ghost writer's" depiction of the it, thereby dispelling westerner's romanticized view of the natives and our ancestor's dealings with them:

" 'Shy at first. Prairie Flower was won over by her innate love for feminine accomplishments,' " Disraeli said, scribbling

Prairie Flower my foot.

*edited* I just got to the other sex scene, the one I suppose you were talking about. Totally agree about it being vulgar and raw.


message 22: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Art wrote: "*edited* I just got to the other sex scene, the one I suppose you were talking about. Totally agree about it being vulgar and raw."

Lol, yep, that would be the one I was talking about! The native American sex wasn't out of place for me. I agree with thoughts on it. It was supposed to make you feel ashamed and a bit dirty, because that's what Mallory was feeling about it.


message 23: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 1 star

Kateblue | 3610 comments Mod
I am getting really good at skipping sex scenes, so I suppose that's what I did. I am now starting the fifth iteration. I don't understand how the fourth iteration ended and I really don't care. Everytime I think there begins to be a story, I am mistaken


message 24: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Reread some of the passages that pissed me off for one reason or another and decided to bump my rating up to 3*. Some parts of the book are absolutely fantastic, I think my initial reaction was mostly because of the disappointment hence the low rating, still it is a bare 6/10 for me. Maybe in a couple of years I will enjoy rereading it, then again who knows...


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