Thursday, 19 December 2013

Beyond the Clockwork Empire

Before it was compiled into a printed book my Tales from the Clockwork Empire was digitally published in episodic form on various comic sites on the Internet. The year was 2008 and at that time I only found the term ‘Clockwork Empire’ once on an obscure academic site.

In my stories I was referring to the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte which in 1803, the year they were based, was spread from Spain to the Pyrenees. The term clockwork related to the level of technology available at this time. Bonaparte was experimenting with submersibles powered by pedal action. Steam power was still thirty years away.

Now the term ‘Clockwork Empire’ seems to be generally bandied about on forums, in novels and games. Often it is erroneously used as a term for steampunk.

Steam power replaced clockwork during the 19th century as the new technology. The fine and intricate clockwork was replaced by the awesome power of hydraulics, pistons and boilers. The Victorians, 1850 to 1900, became the champions of steam. The idea of clockwork used as a device in their steam engines would have seemed as much an anachronism to them as using transistors in a computer would appear to us. Yet clockwork seems to have become as much a part of Steampunk as the Edwardian round lenses of the automobile goggles and airships that seem to have become the mainstay of the genre.

Much more interesting is the transition period between these two technologies. The usurping of clockwork, which had ruled for two centuries, by this infant of heat and steam.

Out of this idea Clockwork Furnace was born. I chose the title for two reasons. One, it was not a title I felt anyone else would want to use, and two; it captures elements from both technologies.

Imagine two brothers of the landed gentry; in their leisure time the philosophers and investigators of natural science. Lord Lucien Flint with his belief in clockwork, his town life and high society. Squire Sebastian Flint, the man of steam with his iron furnace and country manor. The precision of clockwork mirrored in the finesse and delicacy of Lucien, the manual force of steam reflected in the rougher and more practical Sebastian.

Where Tales of the Clockwork Empire had taken place in 1803/4, at the peak of the Napoleonic Wars, Clockwork Furnace starts twenty years earlier in the rural backwaters of the East Coast of England. A land of myth, superstitions, fens and marshes…

The brothers Flint must solve the mystery of the Devil’s Bell, the myth of the Immortal Peddler and uncover a dark secret that has lain dormant for a thousand years in the heat of Deepdale Wood.

The prize…a device of inexhaustible energy. The peril… the very unraveling of reality itself.

The doors of the Furnace are opening…