- Alternate History Wank: Although the Engines and associated steam technologies needed a stronger version of the then nascent British industry to work, the history of the rest of the world is accelerated as through magic, with subtle hints at the 20th century developments:
- Japan has her own revolution in the early 1850s, transforms overnight into a technological society, and acquires her own Engine (even the Meiji Revolution still took almost 3 decades in Real Life);
- The Union and Confederacy split 10 years earlier, fight a bloody war and then stay separate, which together with the independence of California and Texas eliminates any chance of America becoming a superpower;
- Karl Marx raises himself to fame as a philosopher despite having no conditions to breed sponsors and a disenfranchised working class as he witnessed in Real Life;
- France becomes an Empire at the same moment as in Real Life and they still aim to conquer Mexico, just 10 years too quickly;
- Genre Popularizer: Steam Punk
- Inferred Holocaust: the steampunk dream of a Victorian information age is somewhat deconstructed by the heavy hints that they're using it to catalogue people for the purposes of the then-popular doctrine of eugenics. The ending (set in the 1990's) implies that what's left of humanity only exists as simulated information.
- Ye Goode Olde Days: cross with Jive Turkey: only "Dandy Mick" and Sybil use the flowery language of the early-Victorian times, known to the modern public from period literature and the speeches of Gladstone and his peers. Mallory, most male characters from Engine-punchers to lowly workers, Disraeli himself use a language similar to that of modern men.
YMMV / The Difference Engine