Voyage to Uchronia
- The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Gollancz, 384 pp, £7.99, July 1991, ISBN 0 575 05073 X
In February 1812, Byron stood up to speak for the first time in the House of Lords. His speech was a passionate defence of the Nottingham weavers – followers of the mythical King Ludd – who had been smashing the new mechanical stocking-frames; and for the rest of his life Byron went on arguing that ‘we must not allow mankind to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism.’ But what might have happened if the enemies of mechanism had changed their minds? The Difference Engine is one answer, in the form of an ‘uchronic’ novel: set in ‘no time’, instead of Utopia’s ‘no place’.