Fri Sep 27 2002 11:29 Random Notes On The Difference Engine:
- The alternate history was pretty believable in the large, though not so much in the details. For instance (and this is the thing that bothers me most about alternate history), a lot of famous people in real history are also famous in the alternate history, usually for different things. They dealt with this a little bit, in the "We're dealing with this a little bit to stop Leonard from complaining about it, so that everyone else can just enjoy our flights of fancy" way. Well, it didn't work! However, it makes sense in a heavily class-based society like Victorian England for certain people to be well-known regardless of the specific path of history, so I don't mind much.
- The MacGuffin was a big anticlimax. I can't believe I'm saying this about the thing that the MacGuffin turned out to be, but there it is. There are some things man was not meant to use as a MacGuffin.
- It had dinosaurs, or at least their study, which is great.
- Near the end of the book there is a brief digression into fictional secondary sources. I am always suspicious of this because it's something I'm often tempted to do, and as previously noted I am not a good writer. Bizarrely, the fictional secondary sources only rehashed exposition that had already been accomplished. I don't understand why they were included, unless it was to showcase the authors' abilities to write in different styles.
- It's funny (in the sense that it dates the work in a funny way) that the omniscient narrator in the alternate universe of The Difference Engine made the same mistake in analyzing the anatomy of Hallucigenia as did real people in the actual universe. I feel like that needs a spoiler warning ("What? Wonderful Life was wrong about Hallucigenia?!?"), but why should real life need spoiler warnings? Actually, that could be interesting. "Caution! This textbook contains chemistry spoilers!"
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