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Infernal Devices [Mass Market Paperback]

K.W. Jeter
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 26 2011 Angry Robot
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.

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Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a great steampunk genre adventure involving one George Dower.

Although his father was a genius at the clock work skills, not much of that rubbed off on George.

Having inherited his fathers clock shop George is more or less trying to cruise along on his fathers reputation, without actually doing anything.

In rapid succession George is presented with a super complex clockwork mechanism to fix and almost immediately someone tries to steal it. George is then off on an adventure that soon includes some pretty weird people, religious zealots, aristocratic geniuses, time travel, aliens on and around Earth and an uncertainty as to who is the bad guy and who the good guy.

All in all, a smooth flow of peril and escape plus a cast of most curious characters keeps the action flowing and the readers interest high.

A great adventure and a great read, which has prompted me to order his next book called Morlock Night.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Needed to be more serious March 28 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book had the potential to be one of my favorite books in the first 50 pages - but then it got to be more funny than scary. I still enjoyed it, but it just wasn't 'dark' enough. The use of slang from the future made it kind of ridiculous and the fact that the book is really just one continuous chase scene with a helpless hero is pretty absurd too.
You'll need to stretch your imagination quite a bit on some of the ideas but all in all it was fun. Jeter is very creative and original, this is kind of a funny version of _The Anubis Gates_ and also similar to Gaiman's _Neverwhere_ and _The Physiognomy_ from Jeffrey Ford.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must! Completely entertaining. July 20 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a great book. Very fun to read. If you like James P. Blaylock, this is way better than Homuculus. Just read it. Dane
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing steampunk romp April 19 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In his introduction to this novel, K.W. Jeter discusses the steampunk phenomenon. Distilled to its essence, Jeter's explanation is: If you name it, they will come. Jeter coined the word steampunk; readers wanted this new thing called steampunk; writers filled the demand for steampunk. Although I'm not a big follower of steampunk, I am a fan of K.W. Jeter, and so I seized the opportunity to read Infernal Devices, first published in 1987 and now reissued by Angry Robot. I quickly found myself drawn into Jeter's sumptuous Nineteenth Century prose, which may have been modeled upon early H.G. Wells but brought to mind Arthur Conan Doyle.

The story follows the hapless George Dower, son of a famous maker of timepieces and other intricate gadgetry, who inherited none of his father's talent but nonetheless keeps his shop open, eking out a living by making simple repairs to his father's mechanical creations. Dower is visited by the Brown Leather Man, who wants him to repair a mysterious device, and then by two people with odd speech patterns who seem intent on stealing the device. Dower's adventure takes him into a red light district whose inhabitants resemble fish and to an estate where he finds more of his father's gadgetry, including a machine that threatens the world.

Infernal Devices succeeds as comedy (consistently amusing but rarely laugh out loud funny) and as a simple adventure story. It clearly isn't meant to be taken too seriously and that's the spirit in which I read and enjoyed it. As is often true of steampunk, the novel isn't straightforward science fiction. Some aspects of Infernal Devices border on fantasy; color me skeptical, but I doubt a lamp that sees into the future can be manufactured from the steampunk technology of springs and cogs (Jeter uses two characters who have seen the future to good comedic effect, contrasting the sensibilities of the Victorian era with the considerably more relaxed moral standards of the Twentieth Century). And then there's the member of an amphibious race who keeps turning up to give Dower an assist. It's all a bit odd and not to my usual taste, but it kept me smiling. If you enjoy steampunk and the elements of fantasy that are often associated with it, this novel should be a treat for you. If you prefer more conventional (but nonetheless outside-the-mainstream) science fiction, I'd recommend Jeter's The Glass Hammer.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Copy Issues Aug. 23 2011
By Mookie Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I very much enjoyed this novel (I knew from the first sentence that I would) -- for one thing, the author's vocabulary is perfect for this genre. Each character speaks with his or her own voice, and the voice of the narrator is that of a somewhat stuffy Victorian Brit. Jeter never puts in a word that doesn't fit.

Which just made me that much more distressed by the poor editing of this book. I don't mind the occasional slip-up, mind you, but toward the end of Infernal Devices the editing what so sloppy that several sentences or even paragraphs became almost incomprehensible. Punctuation was either omitted or added randomly in the middle of sentences; this is obviously not the writer's fault, but if I hadn't been enjoying other aspects of the book so much I would just have given up on it midway.

That said, the book itself was a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me; the plot was all over the place, but the characters were interesting enough that I didn't mind the chaos of the storyline. If I had read this book with no background on the author I would have assumed that it was written as a Steampunk farce. This book has everything: robots, half-fish prostitutes (admittedly not a staple of the genre, but suitably bizarre), flying machines, exposition that borders on jibberish, clockwork, hallucinogens, time-travel, and pretty much whatever else you can think of. Sadly, lackadaisical editing sometimes eclipsed my appreciation for these madcap Steampunk hijinks.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk Magic April 30 2011
By Nicki J - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For the first chapter or so, I really wasn't sure that I was going to like this book, but then suddenly the story grabbed hold of me and I was completely entranced.

There is plenty of action in this fast paced novel and the main character is extremely likeable and well-rounded, which helps draw the reader in.

Jeter was the one who coined the term 'steampunk' and there are so many great elements in this tale: historical setting, mechnical devises, glimpses of the future, supernatural creatures. It is packed full of wonderful visions and excitement.

I liked how the style of the prose was very old-fashioned and Victorian as it really helped to set the scene and establish the time period. It also added a certain weight to the events as they unfolded.

Another excellent feature of this book is the way Jeter lulls the reader into a sense of security - thinking they know what is happening and who is who - then shocks with a sudden plot twist that you didn't see coming.

This is a great read for any steampunk fans as well as anyone who enjoys a good adventure story with a hint of mystery.

I received this book as a free ebook ARC from NetGalley.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Character in Search of a Plot Sept. 7 2012
By Ian T. Healy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For the first act and a half of this book, it was a four-star read for me. Jeter set up a great mystery, and I found myself turning the pages to see how Mr. Dower would unravel it, and what role all the odd characters he met would play. Then, halfway through the middle act, when answers started to come forth, it went all pear-shaped.

(spoilers follow)

Reading fiction requires a certain suspension of disbelief, and I'm perfectly happy letting my disbelief go. But when I start getting fed bigger and bigger spoonfuls of horseshit, eventually I'm going to say enough is enough. Fish-faced people? Automatons? A machine to destroy the entire world so aliens will notice us? A robot connected to a human brain through the ether? And then the fish people turn out to be hybrids from a heretofore aquatic humanoid race? Okay, look. Maybe half of those revelations could have made for a tight story, but eventually it seemed like Jeter was like a little kid exaggerating everything. "Know what happened next? And know what happened NEXT?"

And all through the latter half of the book, the main character of Mr. Dower does nothing but react to other people and do what they tell him to. Not once does he take any direct action after doing so fairly early in the book. I hate to say it's boring, but it is pretty dull.

Overall, I think Jeter simply tried to introduce too many esoteric concepts in one novel, and tried to make the main character such an "everyman" that he became a "nobody-cares man." In the end, I was disappointed, because the first half of the book implied it would be so much better than it ultimately became.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So awesome to see this back in print!!! April 12 2011
By Victoria McManus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I was so excited to see that this book is once again available, both for Kindle and, soon, in paperback. If you're into steampunk as it is now, you must read this book, as it's one of the foundations of that subgenre.

I particularly love the darkness of the mystery plot, and its interesting thematic implications revolving around clockwork automatons.
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