Cyberpunk Information Database
Science Fiction

The Difference Engine


The Difference Engine is a book by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. It was published in 1990.

The Difference Engine is more like "steampunk" than real cyberpunk, because it's located in an alternative past, in Victorian England.


The year is 1855. London. The city swelters in a poisonous heatwave.

The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time, with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the development of steam-driven cybernetic Engines, is in full and drastic swing. Great Britain, with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine guns and information technology, prepares to better the world's lot...

Sybil Gerard, ruined woman, politician's tart, daughter of a notorious Luddite; Edward Mallory, explorer, palaeontologist, the discoverer of the famed Land Leviathan; Lady Ada Byron, daughter of the Prime Minister, mathematical genius, compulsive gambler, the Queen of Engines; these three and many others are unwitting participants in a conspiracy linking Great Britain with the France of Louis Napoleon and the Manhattan commune of Karl Marx.

Links & References

The Difference Dictionary
Dr. Gunn's Organic History Supplement for The Difference Engine.

Babbage's Intelligence
Calculating Engines and the Factory System, by Simon Schaffer.

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