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[Reading] ➻ Infernal Devices (Infernal Devices, #1) By K.W. Jeter –

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

10 thoughts on “Infernal Devices (Infernal Devices, #1)

  1. says:

    Steampunk, ahoy And hey, did you know that Jeter coined that term Remember when those fantastic adventure tales whose main goal was to tell a fast paced story with some interesting ideas used to clock in under 250 pages and could be enjoyed in one long afternoon And didn t have sequels Probably not and I m probably dating myself It is nice to be reminded that such things were once fairly common Maybe authors these days are afraid of being seen as somehow disposable or too lightweight And what s wrong with being lightweight Infernal Devices is a great example of swiftly paced, lightweight entertainment It is a retro chic thriller full of tricky clockwork mechanisms, cobblestones and foggy nights, demented aristocrats and dodgy lower class types, inhuman creatures from the sea and their barely human half breed spawn, creepy flights into darkness and sudden escapes, and two brassy mercenaries who are strangely familiar with 20th century slang Best of all, there is also an automaton who comes equipped with all of the wit, intelligence, and sexual drive that his original human model our strangely bland hero appears to lack Two peas in a pod, except one pea is infinitely tasty.Imagine a clockwork version of this Note the eyes Spoiler The writing is luscious and rather gleefully sardonic It winks at you while delivering its narrative thrills in a delightfully vivid, semi archaic purple prose package And it almost feels like Jeter is even sending up his own traditionally enigmatic heroes The answers to many of the questions swirling around the oddly placid protagonist lie within his very stolidity his unimaginative blankness and prim limitations are actually the key to Infernal Devices central conundrums and contraptions Clever And the climax is a literal climax Ha Also featuring The End of the World Maybe A version of this review is part of a larger article on Jeter posted on SHELF INFLICTED

  2. says:

    Things I learned from K W Jeter in this book 1 ALL women are only thinking about one thing If they are Sexy, then they are sex crazed animals who will rip off a man s clothes as soon as look at him this is Logic no matter how loudly he protests the indignity and begs her to control herself, madam Alas 2 If a woman is Not Sexy i.e., middle aged and or overweight then they are on a mission fueled by jealousy and frustration to stop ANYONE EVER even THINKING about sex, ever again Either that, or kidnapping young virgins a la Missus Meers and selling them to satisfy the depraved desires of a corrupt elite class Or view spoiler both hide spoiler

  3. says:

    The Good There were some cool ideas here, and the Victorian setting is a firm favourite of mine The first person voice an extremely proper English gentleman is very well done.The Bad Some of the ideas are a bit childish and stupid Plus the characters are just unbelievably one dimensional, and their dialogue is bad The only two women in the story are two different kinds of nymphomaniac one is the street smart, gung ho nympho while the other is the rich, nasty type I guess that makes them two dimensional Friends character the protagonist is most like George Dower is intelligent, thoughtful and seems to get rescued from all his problems by the actions of others He is like Ross, only without the vast sexual experience.

  4. says:

    1.5I keep bouncing back and forth on whether to give this one or two stars though I m pretty much sticking with the 1.5 either way My dilemma is that while I didn t really like it, per se, I didn t actively dislike it, which is what I usually use 1 stars for, but I didn t like it, either.I guess, for the most part, it was ok , and I was going to give it a 2 stars for most of the book, but the ending left me feeling kinda wtf , which is why I was thinking of dropping it down But it did have some things going for it and also cause I feel like maybe I wasn t reading it in the right frame of mind thus the consideration of keeping it at 2.What I mean about being in the right frame of mind is that, for one of my status messages, I d said that it would be better having been written as a comedy because of the absurdity of the situations the bumbling Dower kept getting himself in, and it crosses that threshold of believability after one thing after another after another after another keeps getting piled on top of the idiot.The feeling bad part comes in because, reading the afterword, is mentions the humor and the absurdity as being purposeful, as a sort of homage to the over the top Victorian adventure stories.So I m thinking that, maybe, if I d read it in that light, maybe I would ve found it enjoyable and less annoying Though I can t say my expectations were skewed going in cause, honestly, I didn t really know what to expect, and I usually try and let the style of writing and the seeming mood of the book come across in the writing So I m not going to take blame, or anything, if I wasn t in the right frame of mind because I would say the writing, in the beginning, lead me to believe it was going for a serious tone so if it s meant to be humorous in an absurd kind of way, then I would say the author failed to convey that intention via the tone.So there Anyway That s a whole lot of semi ranting without touching that much on the book, yet, aside from the fact that it seemed like it wanted to be serious, but ended up being absurd, which I found stupid and irritating than amusing or endearing.So a bit about the book and some of the good things This book first came onto my radar when I was involved in a sort of genre debate about steampunk, and I discovered that Jeter coined the term Being a fan of the genre or, at least, the idea of the genre I wanted to read some of the proto works and this seemed like an interesting place to start.Of course, while I ve often argued that steampunk is a form of sci fi, generally, Jeter, himself, coined it in reference to Victorian fantasies , and the science in this is very, well, fantastical With few exceptions, there doesn t seem to be any attempt to stick within the confines of possible, or even plausible, science, what with the fishmen type things interbreeding with humans, and clockwork automaton working on principles of a metaphysical sort of resonanceThat aspect of it, actually, made me think a bit of Perdido Street Station, but whereas China Mi ville s work though wordy and overly dense in place had flashes of brilliance and awe inspiring profundity for me, this book s attempt at metaphysical philosophies came across as mostly waffle.But, really, my biggest complaints were as I said before Dower is one of those protagonists who is never pro active, who constantly gets buffeted this way and that, and never really comes into his own at any point, and the sheer level of stuff that gets thrown at him from every angle is just beyond the pale.I never really connected with any of the characters though I did enjoy Creff and Abel and the various twists and surprise reveals at the end were just smh I guess it makes a kind of sense, if it s meant to be an absurdist kind of tale, but, for me, it just came across as kind of asinine and I was thankful when it was done because I could say it was doneBlech.So 1 or 2 stars I still can t decide ETA I forgot to mention all the type setting issues There were quite a few of them and they were pretty distracting at times.What I mean is things like missing quotation marks, missing periods at ends of sentences, and random periods in the middle of sentences Since things like punctuation can alter the meaning of sentences, or how you read them, I often had to go back and reread bits cause I was thrown by their random placement.

  5. says:

    Infernal Devices as a steampunk novel is not nearly as famous as its author is for coining the phrase steampunk I think Jeter may have simply said the first thing he thought of, not realizing that the term would stick This new edition of the novel attempts to capitalize on the recent popularity of steampunk fiction and well it should in my opinion The novel is a prime example of a genre I love but tend to nitpick over, so do not let my rating discourage interest I continue to float between 3 and 4 stars and will probably settle upon 4 stars if only to not risk dissuasion As Jeff VanderMeer points out in the epilogue of this new edition, Jeter is not a writer of steampunk fiction He is a writer of dark science fiction who happened to write something now considered steampunk I have no experience with Jeter s other works but I hope to change that Essentially, the issues I had with this book had nothing to do with the steampunk characteristics At the top of my list, I felt zero connection to the main character I could not have cared less what happened to him He sounded so put out through most of the story I also felt buried in the wordiness of the book I could have skipped whole paragraphs and my knowledge of the story would not have been lessened I am also not a fan of the story within a story technique used than once in this book I have often been indifferent to this but it felt as simple information dump and lacked finesse What I did love were the majority of the secondary characters They were all quite crazy and unique My favorite was Scape I loved how Jeter managed to convincingly portray a character in Victorian times who spoke American vernacular And the image of Scape and his flying machine will stick with me The Brown Leather Man, well, I can not say anything about him without providing spoilers Suffice it say that I tally his character in the plus column as well This is a must read for anyone who enjoys steampunk fiction, whether as a first foray into the genre or for avid fans This novel deserves greater recognition and the reissue.

  6. says:

    I ve had this book vaguely on my mental list of books that might be interesting for a long time, but I picked it up on pure whim I m interested in how many low reviews it has I think the problem is that people expect something great and marvelously written from the book that inaugurated such a huge cultural phenomenon as steampunk It s not that It s fun, silly, often ridiculous, and in no way intended to be taken too seriously, I think It s a juxtaposition of ideas, written very much in the tradition of Jules Verne and H.G Wells and with a protagonist that reminds me very much of the common mental image of bumbling, unintelligent John Watson Which usually ignores that he is a doctor, an army man, and capable of handling fire arms, not to mention trusted by Holmes who is obviously no idiot He has a certain lack of imagination, yes, but he s not as stupid as the stereotype would have you believe and certainly not as stupid as the protagonist of this novel I thought it was fun, and actually pretty absorbing Not convincing as anything serious, but fun I m glad Angry Robot republished it, it s been a nice diversion from waiting for the slow wheels of the NHS to turn.

  7. says:

    This was a fun early steampunk book The character seemed to just reel from disaster to disaster with no time to adjust It was fun.

  8. says:

    I marked this as did not finish a few nights ago, and then I looked at how many books I had marked DNF Shamed, I woke up my Kindle once and attempted to keep going.I should have listened to my gut.For most of my life, even if I hated a book, I would read it The whole goshdurned thing Then I would say, THAT WAS SO AWFUL WHAT A WASTE OF MY TIME NGHAAAH or some such incoherent gabbling indicative of anger Strangely enough, when I started working in a library, I started abandoning books with abandon Originally, it was almost a moral issue for me, i.e Well, I started it, so in order to be fair and just to the author, I must finish it Then I saw how many new books we received every week I worked at a branch library then , and I saw the plethora of books already on the shelves, and my strange compulsion to finish books slowly died away I couldn t possibly read all of those books, and even if I tried, I wouldn t like many of them Then, I went to library school, where we learned a bit of theory yes, Virginia, there is Library Theory for us library folk We learned S.R Ranganathan s 5 Laws of Library Science 1 Books are for use.2 Every reader his or her book.3 Every book its reader.4 Save the time of the reader.5 The library is a growing organism.So, 1 4 basically told me that I didn t have to like everything, because I wouldn t use what I didn t like, and I would be wasting time, because I was not the reader for the book, nor was the book for me What s all this drivel got to do with Infernal Devices Well, for one thing, you ve just experienced the basic plot device of the novel, which generally consists of What plot Oh, that thing over there pokes with stick Gee, it s pretty thin Um, hey, look, it s a fish person Secondly, it s my personal justification for not finishing this.As we all know by now, Jeter coined the term steampunk Hooray Give the man a cigar Elements that we ve come to identify with steampunk icons, if you will are either absent or only very slightly present For example, steampunk goggles are popular for various activities riding in airships being the most practical use , and indeed one character I encountered as far as I read did have distinctive eyewear, but they were blue tinted glasses This is really of a trippy quasi Victorian mashup of detective story and Lovecraft I mean, seriously, the inhabitants of Wetwick Wetwickians come flopping straight out of The Shadow over Innsmouth The main character narrator whose name I already forget, except that he s a junior is a bit of a Gary Stu Things just happen to him, man Like strange women from the future attempting the sexytimes Like getting thrown into a river but somehow reviving George His name is George There were, I admit, some amusing parts The whole scandal with the church although I didn t read far enough to get the whole story , was pretty funny in a slapstick sort of way.Um, I think that was actually the only funny part George is pretty hopeless at everything He has a job for which he s not qualified, he s kept on a man of questionable sanity as his valet butlet assistant, and he bestows exceptionally prosy monikers upon people he s met For example, his first client, who has dark brown skin, becomes Brown Leather Man What are you, like, two Also racism Also, as noted in another review, the BLM speaks in anastrophe i.e Yoda speak which is not cool unless it s Yoda George must repair a clockwork mechanism of his father s, but he has no skills in this area I m cutting to the chase, here , receives a strange coin from Brown Leather Man, is subsequently approached and then robbed by two ne er do wells who are well versed in American slang, one of whom is a woman with a BOSOM as women are wont to have and who is determined to have the sexytimes with the main character.NOTE Let it be noted that I here went and read the Wikipedia entry on this novel and WOW that explains a LOT Kind of Go over there to read if you want to see what I mean.Okay, back to the story I love madcap I love it a lot Bertie and Jeeves, anything by Jasper Fforde, screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s those are all awesome However, they also have plots and consistent humor NOTE I felt guilty Again So I went back to the book and skipped to the end I have no words I also now have no regrets about not finishing the whole thing This is a case where the reputation of the book first steampunk, etc is better than the actual book For a much better steampunk, try the book of the same name Infernal Devices by Phillip Reeve Actually the whole Hungry City Chronicles is worth a read even though it s typically labeled YA It s very mature and dark.

  9. says:

    This is one of the pioneering works of steampunk, and I m glad I read it It has many of the staples of the subgenre, from the Victorian setting to clockwork men, from time travel to not so mythical creatures in this case, selkies There are several well crafted moments of ironic social commentary It s easy to see how this wry and imaginative tale helped to set precedents for what followed.That said, I didn t really enjoy this as a reading experience, despite Jeter s always elegant prose The narrator, who inherited his father s watchmaker s store but not the man s talent for imaginative clockwork inventions, remains passive and rather baffled throughout the action The parade of characters he encounters are colorful, but none are exactly sympathetic enough to evoke an attachment The tone was a bit too flippant for my taste, as well it s hard to take the danger seriously when the story doesn t take itself seriously.For most of the novel, the episodic adventures perils are unexplained and meant to be mysterious, but they didn t engage me quite enough to leave me wondering how they fit together Ironically, in the eleventh hour, when the infodump portion of the novel connected all the dots, I discovered the underlying story was far interesting than I d realized By that time, of course, the novel was drawing to a close.I love Jeter s Morlock Night, and I m sure I ll reread it in the future I appreciate Infernal Devices for its impact and legacy, but I doubt I ll revisit it for anything than the insights it provides into the history of steampunk.

  10. says:

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.George Dower s father was a watchmaker, but he didn t just make watches Some of his special customers knew he was a genius with all sorts of gear work When his father died, George inherited the watch shop Unfortunately, he didn t inherit his father s genius He can sometimes manage to fix a customer s watch if he sees that a part has worn out, or something else obvious is wrong, but that s about it He s completely flummoxed when a strange brown man brings in something he s never seen before something George s father made George has no idea what this infernal device does, but when he agrees to help, he s soon embroiled in a wild adventure that involves a secret London district with fishy looking citizens, the Royal Anti Society, the formidable woman who heads up the Ladies Union for the Suppression of Carnal Vice, a robot doppelganger, and a man and woman who speak 20th century American slang George is starting to realize that his father may have been involved in some rather shady business.K.W Jeter s Infernal Devices A Mad Victorian Fantasy, first published in 1987, has been reprinted by Angry Robot because of the recent resurgence of Victorian literature In fact, K.W Jeter was the man who actually coined the term Steampunk As he explains in the forward, he meant it as a joke referring to the term cyberpunk but it stuck.As promised, Infernal Devices is indeed a mad steampunk fantasy it s filled with flying machines and other mechanical devices, Victorian moral and scientific societies, 19th century fashion and music, anachronistic technologies, and even some Lovecraftian monsters The prose, dialogue and humor also feel appropriately Victorian, and Jeter s London atmosphere, with its clean shop fronts and grimy back alleys, feels authentic.Though there s a lot going on in Infernal Devices, it s light There are no deep themes, moving relationships, profound insights, or brilliant images, but there are plenty of surprises and laughs The protagonist, mild mannered and bumbling George Dower, is not particularly interesting or dynamic, but I felt sympathetic towards him anyway The other characters are amusing, but they re rather two dimensional This novel is a good example of Mad Victorian it s just fast chaotic fun And it s a classic of the steampunk genre, so I consider it a must read for serious SFF fans just for that reason.I listened to Brilliance Audio s version of Infernal Devices, which was read by Michael Page, who s got the perfect English accent for this novel he sounds slightly fanatical and frenzied I loved his narration The audiobook also includes a foreword by K.W Jeter and an afterward by Jeff VanderMeer who explains the importance of the novel in the history of the steampunk genre.