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Clockwork Angels: The Novel by Kevin J.…

Clockwork Angels: The Novel (edition 2012)

by Kevin J. Anderson, Neil Peart

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Title:Clockwork Angels: The Novel
Authors:Kevin J. Anderson
Other authors:Neil Peart
Info:ECW Press (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson


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This is basically a novelization of the 2012 album Clockwork Angels by Rush. Which is maybe less weird than it might sound, as Clockwork Angels is one of those concept albums whose lyrics, somewhat loosely, tell a story. In this case, the story is a sort of steampunky homage to Voltaire's Candide. It features a young man who grows up in a society run both like and by clockwork, following the dictates of a godlike figure known as the Watchmaker. The young man goes off and has lots of adventures, during which he comes to question everything he was brought up to believe.

I am, I should probably say at the outset, a huge fan of Rush. But, this isn't my favorite entry in their discography. Heck, it's probably not even my favorite SF-dystopia concept album of theirs, even if I do generally prefer their more recent sound to that of their 2112 days. I certainly don't dislike it. It's decent enough. But it's never going to number among my favorites.

The book, however, I did dislike. Possibly more than it deserves. Don't get me wrong, it's not a good book. The writing is rather clunky and simplistic. The story and the characters are flat, and much less interesting than whatever I might have vaguely imagined for myself while listening to the album. And Anderson does an awkwardly obvious job of incorporating the album lyrics, as well as other random bits of lyrics from other Rush songs. No doubt this was intended to be cute and fun, a little easter egg for the fans. But I found it incredibly distracting, as if the author were constantly winking at me and going, "See what I did there?"

Honestly, though, I've read worse SF novels than this one and felt much less irritated by them. I can only conclude that the problem here is that the whole exercise took something I liked okay by an artist I love, and made me like it less, rather than more, made it more boring, rather than more interesting.

Which is a pity, because it's a very pretty book, physically, with rich, colorful illustrations, and a lovely parchment-y pattern marking the first page of every chapter. Also because I can't help feeling that it would be possible for a really good author to do something worthwhile with the story, something that would add to, rather than detract from, the experience of listening to the album. But Kevin J. Anderson is not that author. And, yes, Neil Peart apparently worked very closely with him on the story. But, look... Neil Peart's lyrics have meant a hell of a lot to me over the years, and seeing him doing his virtuoso drum performance live may be the closest I've come to a spiritual experience in my life. But he's not a novelist, and if a project like this was going to be a real success, I think he needed to be paired with someone more skillful in that area. ( )
  bragan | Dec 15, 2016 |
It continued in in much the same vein. Some beautiful prose and imagery. but I found the plotline to be severely lacking. I actually think I flashed back to the plot of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Whilst it didnt involve jailing all children, it definitely put me in that frame of mind, with everyone having to follow the plan and do exactly what the Watchmaker said... ( )
  Vinbert | Nov 22, 2015 |
It continued in in much the same vein. Some beautiful prose and imagery. but I found the plotline to be severely lacking. I actually think I flashed back to the plot of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Whilst it didnt involve jailing all children, it definitely put me in that frame of mind, with everyone having to follow the plan and do exactly what the Watchmaker said... ( )
  Vinbert | Nov 22, 2015 |
The Watchmaker has spent a couple hundred years bringing absolute precision to the lives of Albion. The Anarchist is trying to tear the order apart. In between the two of them is a rather unassuming young man, Owen Hardy, who is almost at the age of adulthood and is ready to propose to a pretty girl and take over running the apple orchard for his father. He is noticed by the Watchmaker and the Anarchist as a possible hiccup in the order of things and they try to sway him to their respective views. The anarchist takes the first shot by literally snatching him onto a steamline train, off to take raw supplies to Crown City and to possibly see the legendary Clockwork Angels.

The reader follows Owen as he arrives in the city and naively makes his way around until he runs out of funds. He comes across a traveling circus and starts working for them, traveling through many small towns like his home and he gets strong and more attached to the beautiful trapeze artist. Later he joins a steamliner captain and also works on a ship and is wrecked by pirates. He sees the good and bad in order and chaos and wants to find a good balance between the two.

The reader is treated to an interesting world full of alchemy and follow the growth of a young man who gets hard lessons during his journey. A fun read. ( )
  mamzel | Jun 23, 2014 |
Prior to reading Clockwork Angels I would have rated Kevin J. Anderson’s outstanding Terra Incognita trilogy as his best work. Kevin has published many superb novels, and while I love them all, I really clicked with the Terra Incognita books. In fact, I had Kevin sign all three of my copies when I met him a few years ago. But Clockwork Angels is a special book. A stand alone novel based upon and inspired by Neil Peart’s lyrics for the Rush album of the same name, Clockwork Angels is a dazzling coming of age story. Part fantasy, part science fiction and part Steampunk, Clockwork Angels tells the story of young Owen Hardy who yearns to see more of the world. He does just that, and soon he discovers that his world isn’t what it seems, and his adventures test his endurance and willpower. He finds himself pulled between the forces of order and chaos. Learning to survive on his own, Owen falls in love, travels to remote parts of the world, and experience extreme loneliness and extraordinary adventures. Bibliophiles take note: the paperback edition from ECW Press in Canada includes stunning cover and interior images designed by Hugh Syme thus making this a real collector’s item. Neil Peart’s lyrics are included along with an essay by Peart on the book’s origin. Kevin J. Anderson has crafted a wholly original and heartfelt story that will touch readers of all ages. I really loved this book and I’m rating it a modern classic alongside Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. This is one you won’t want to miss. The Anarchist, the Watchmaker, Francesca, Cesar Magnusson and his carnival extravaganza, Commodore Pangloss, the seven cities of gold and other characters and places are all waiting to be discovered in the pages of this wonderful book. ( )
  TPMCNULTY | May 21, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kevin J. Andersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Peart, Nealsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
A remarkable collaboration that is unprecedented in its scope and realization, this exquisitely wrought novel represents an artistic project between the bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and the multiplatinum rock band Rush. The newest album by Rush, Clockwork Angels, sets forth a story in Neil Peart’s lyrics that has been expanded by him and Anderson into this epic novel. In a young man’s quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. The mind-bending story is complemented with rich paintings by the five-time Juno Award winner for Best Album Design, Hugh Syme.
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A novel based on the album "Clockwork Angels" by the rock band Rush follows a young man on a quest through a world of lost cities, pirates, anarchists, and a Watchmaker who imposes precision on all aspects of daily life.

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