Infernal Devices Mass Market Paperback – Apr 26 2011
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
I particularly love the darkness of the mystery plot, and its interesting thematic implications revolving around clockwork automatons.
However, give it a chance and you'll find it to be a worthy addition to the genre of steampunk. Jeter certainly cannot be accused of giving his protagonist an easy time of it; Dower is made to suffer from beginning to end, and every time it looks like relief is in sight, he is waylayed by people who either want to kill him or want to rope him into some bizarre scheme. As one reviewer pointed out, not everyone is who they appear to be, and some friends turn out to be enemies, and vice-versa. This makes for a satisfying read at the end of the day.
I can only assume, based on the high scores given to the paperback version, that it is not plagued by the lack of editing that went into the Kindle edition. If you have a choice, get a physical copy instead.