This post is courtesy of Jorie.
Genre: Steampunk Science Fiction
Size: 268 pages
Availability: Paperback, Ebook
Ernst’s world is one of endless admirers, including foreign dignitaries and heads of state. Hailed as a marvel of late nineteenth-century automation, he is the crowning achievement of his master, Karl Gruber. A world-famous builder of automated clocks, Gruber has reached the pinnacle of his art in Ernst—a man constructed entirely of clockwork. Educated and raised in the Gruber household to be a gentle, caring soul, Ernst begins to discover a profound love for his master’s daughter, Giselle. Just as their relationship becomes intimate, however, tragedy strikes and the family falls apart. Ernst’s serene and happy existence is shattered and changed forever. Abandoned, knowing no other life but the one he has led, Ernst allows himself to wind down in a kind of suicide. Over one hundred years later, he awakens in a strange new land, the world he’s known long gone. Along with his mentor and guide, a well-meaning if slightly unstable homeless man, Ernst attempts to piece together the events that brought him to his new home—and to let go of the century-old tragedy that still haunts him.
On selecting “The Clockwork Man”:
I honestly did not allow myself the pleasure of having a lot of time to make my selection for this piece, by which, I had pro-offered to contribute to the now launched Clockwork Carnival! Whilst I was committed to percuring a review that would go live during the festivities, I made an error in judgement, as to how limited my time would evaporate throughout July, and the opening dawn of August! You see, I recently had my own launching by way of a bookish minded blog! A labour of love in of itself, which lended the most burnt midnight oil nights of my life; including surpassing the hours I braved during Nanowrimo 2008! Therefore, I had to rely on my local library’s catalogue to help aide me in my procurement of a book suitable for this particular endeavour! I must confess, that I am a girl who is fully jazzed on the Steampunk side of life, but without much to ring it true aside from a deep appreciation of the art, wicked fashions stylings, and the movement at large by which she views from an outside glancement! It was always my intent to percure a ready assessment of the genre, to engage in the narratives that entice more followers each year towards attending conventions and festivals that celebrate all things “steam!”; yet, somewhere along the corridor of this pursuit I fell a bit short! Thereby, urging myself to seek out a way to remedy this, I latched on to Hannah’s outcry for help!! My local library came through for me, by way, of having just shy of a dozen choices listed under the subject search “steampunk”, to which I knew more existed elsewhere in the catalogue, but when the clock tick tocks at a harringly pace, you make do!
This was one of the books placed on hold over a weekend, which I then, had the daring boldness to ‘jump the holds’ one Monday night! This refers to the fact you re-key in the book of choice that is on hold, sort out which branch has the book, and boldly ask them to let you check it out ahead of its readiness at your home library! I managed to pick up three, but it’s this little book of curiosity that I hoped would win me over, and I must say, dear hearts, it has! Mr. Jablonsky has written “The Clockwork Man” in diary format, which is curious to me, as one of the last books I read was “Letters to Skye” which introduced me to the Epistolary novel. This one serves as both an introduction to the Steampunk branch of science fiction inasmuch as the styling of a story told strictly through one man’s diary accountment!
His clever and cheeky use of wordsmith worthly choices in dialogue and narrative, give the reader a dancing array of how a man built of cogs and gears might actually view his outside world! A meloncholic story unfolds that renders the reader little time to resolve the emotional churnings inside their hearts, but ebbs in and out of the dramatic climaxes to ease back into the journey Ernst is embarking on.
On what I hope to accomplish during the Clockwork Carnival event:
To engage with a community of like-minded souls who have found inspiration in the Steampunk counter-culture, experiencing first hand where I can set my sails in reading next, as I want to be continiously aware of new authors, books, anthologies, short stories, and other contributions on a subject that has fascinated me for quite some time! To be open to learning more than I have been able to resolve on my own, and to get caught up in the pure excitement that revolves around a blogosphere event!! I was most intrigued to have learnt, that my previous inclinations of understanding ‘what’ Steampunk fiction involves has been re-evaluated through my reading of this novel! Inasmuch as the posts I have already begun to read in the Carnival! This was my best hope for what would come of the fortnight!
Humanity’s Mirror is a reflective piece throughout the narrative:
One element of truth that I believe it etched into most books that draw upon the proposition of how to shift our personal ethical, moral, and spiritual views when confronted by a being not of our own pattern or design; is that human logic is first motivated to criticize, dispute, shun, and otherwise osterise what man cannot fully grasp as evidental in front of him. In our pursuit to understand where science is limited, or further advanced past the everyman’s understanding, humanity goes through the windings of first judgement and then, disconcorted apathy. Its interesting to me, to note that the beings that populate this sort of fiction reflect humanity’s mirror in a way that is juxpositioned against the humans that walk beside him.
Cross-simliarities untoward the notion that beings not of blood and bone suffer strugglements outside a human’s scope:
If you are familiar with Data, of Star Trek: the Next Generation; Johnny Five of Short Circuit; Hugo Cabret, and Bicentineal Man, you will have a firm knowledge of the plausiblity of what this novel encompasses! Little stitchings of reality drawn upon an everyman’s knowledge of perpurted science will lend you an edging in drinking in this gaslight world of late 19th century Germany! On the foot heels of reading “The Golem and the Jinni”, where mythological and mystic creatures fully come to life and inhabit New York City,… so too, does “The Clockwork Man” properly insert th reader into the reality of where Ernst abides his time. He becomes a bit of a timeshifter (if this is a word in science fiction I know naught, but it populated itself in my mind as I wrote this review!), as he slips between one century and the next, in search of how to pass through what he used to believe a fitting life for a person of his origin. This pulled to mind the references I have made, because Data, Johhny, Ahmed, and Chava were all sorting out their place in a world of men, ill-fitted to fully grasp the emotional arc that affirms our humanity, and perceive a way to draw a measure of worth out of the time they are given to experience our world. He keeps to the shadows of night, in the same vein as Ahmed did in the Golem and the Jinni. Hoping that the absence of light will provide a buffer of safety.
The most humbling accountment of a living person’s existance whilst they walk earth, is the intimately private thoughts they cast down upon paper! A journal is a not only a record of a person’s innermost musings, but a breathing visage into the core of who they are. Journals are notorious for giving the reader an in-depth look into a snapshot of a life, and in this novel, Ernst’s journal does far more than that: it proves he’s a self-aware, high functioning entity that deserves the same civil rights and liberties of man. His journal is proof of his intellect as much as proof of his ablities therein. Yet, at each turn, he is undermined and shirked away from society whose understanding of his being is limited and clouded. His life isn’t one to be envious of, as despite his advanced state of creation, he is constantly at war with himself in a self-wrecking brand of PTSD. His memories of what happened a full century ago nearly are the cause of his self-destruction. It is only with the intervention of his conscience thoughts, by which, he never realised he was capable of having, and the kindness of strangers he might not have realised what his purpose in life would be.
This story aches with emotional undercurrents of intense loss, forsaken love, and a pure willingness to strive to understand what is just outside one’s reach. His mannerisms are always in check against what he was always told should be his living perimeters. He constantly is at a loss to understand the humans he must interact with, but strives to maintain a tolerance level in his interactions. The story unfolds gradually as each new page in his journal is revealing another piece of Ernst, as much as it is revealing another moment in our own histories. The time slip between the late 1800s, to the early 2000s, is felt heavily when Ernst realises the totality of the second World War had on his home country of Germany. What intrigued me the most, is the interpersements of ‘clockwork’ mechanisms, and the eluding premise that there is more to the intricities of creating a ‘man of nickel, tin, and clock’ than what is preliminarily conceived.
If you step into his world, you will take a hard look at how one man chooses to define himself and honour his creator by living by the principles of the Golden Rule. He is a man seeking a purpose and a guidance, where none exists. And, he learns along the way, that the best defense is not only instinctive but learnt. The ebbing of narrative lulls you into this lively world where the darkness of human nature is hinged to the journey Ernst must take towards securing his freedom.
Shimmer (Spectulative Fiction) – Interview with William Jablonsky
The Hindu – Interview with William Jablonsky about “The Clockwork Man”
CyberMage – Listing for “The Clockwork Man
Books I noticed in conjunction to this:
- Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader by Mike Ashley
- The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard
- Steampunk’d by Jean Rabe
- Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
- The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
- The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guilde to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer
- The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick
- The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
- The Time Ships (sequel to H.G. Wells Time Machine) by Stephen Baxter
- The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
- Fated by Benedict Jacka
- The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke & Frederik Pohl
- The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
- City at the End of Time by Greg Bear
Websites OR Blogs I have stumbled across for Steampunk:
I am curious, has anyone read “The Clockwork Man”, or any of the above listed titles!? What are your impressions of the book(s) you have read, and what leads you back to pick up more Steampunk fiction!? I’d be curious to know how you originally broached into it as well! After reading my take on this novel, would you be intrigued to read it, too!?
“The Clockwork Man” by William Jablonsky was reviewed by:
Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story