Thanks to RobW for pointing out this novel. Michael Swanwick retells the story of Faust but with the twist that Mephistopheles is an alien instead of the devil and the knowledge that he offers Faust is scientific and technological. Mephistopheles’ hope is that humans will use this technology to destroy themselves. In a very short span of time, industrial revolution is unleashed on the world. Faust never thinks about the consequences about the consequences of his technology, Europe is littered with industrial pollution and there is a very real prospect of weapons of mass destruction. The novel thus explores how the Renaissance’s ideal of relentless pursuit of knowledge could easily have been perverted.