One wonders how much better a book The Difference Engine might have been if Mr. Gibson and Mr. Sterling had a realistic appreciation of the size/power/fuel supply/water supply ratios of condensing and non-condensing steam engines. I love the book, I enjoy their other books, but oh! for the lack of one historically-minded collaborator from Babcock & Wilcox!
(They do play non-condensing steam engines for a bit of a laugh and I give them much credit for that. I also need to remember to buy a little tabletop stationary engine to use as a humidifier next winter.)
At that, they are well ahead of most steampunk in their understanding of steam prime movers, especially external-combustion piston engines. In such an engineering-based SF byway, why are so few bothering to run the numbers through their Babbage engines?
4 months ago