THE CLOCKWORK DYNASTY by Daniel H. Wilson
Kirkus Star

THE CLOCKWORK DYNASTY

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A feisty young anthropologist discovers a secret civilization of mechanical souls.

Wilson (Robogenesis, 2014, etc.) continues his obsession with intelligent machines in this ambitious fantasy, melding the real-life past with a secret history of seemingly immortal mechanical beings who call themselves avtomat: “Maybe the closest analogue in English is the word robot.” The book opens as young June Stefanov listens to her grandfather’s memory of a mechanical soldier he encountered at Stalingrad. “There are strange things in the world, June,” he says. “Things older than we know. Walking with the faces of men...there are angels among us.” From here, the book pivots between grown-up June, who seeks out mechanical antiquities on behalf of the shadowy Kunlun Foundation, and Peter Alexeyvich and Elena Petrova, two mechanical beings resurrected in Moscow circa 1709 by Giacomo Favorini, the last mechanician of Czar Peter the Great. Both tales are thrilling and very different. Peter’s form is that of a young man, while his “sister” Elena looks like a 12-year-old girl. After the czar dies, the two are forced to flee to London, where Peter takes up arms as a soldier of fortune and Elena finds a way to live her long life in the body of a child. Back in the present day, June is hunted by Talus Silferström, enforcer for an ancient avtomat called Leizu, before being rescued by Peter, who is a pivotal character in a war between warring steampunk leviathans. This bold adventure is a stew of cult-classic concepts—the avtomat reflect the Immortals in the Highlander franchise, while the ancient and deadly Elena is reminiscent of child vampire Claudia in Interview with the Vampire (1976). It may wear its influences on its sleeve but it’s also a welcome treat for steampunk and fantasy fans.

A thrilling mix of influences, much like Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants (2016) and HBO’s Westworld, that creates a captivating scenario begging for many sequels.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-385-54178-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2017




BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF 2017:

FictionBORNE by Jeff VanderMeer
by Jeff VanderMeer
Sci-FiTHE STONE SKY by N.K.  Jemisin
by N.K. Jemisin
Sci-FiTHE STONE IN THE SKULL  by Elizabeth Bear
by Elizabeth Bear
Sci-FiTHE REMNANT by Charlie Fletcher
by Charlie Fletcher

MORE BY DANIEL H. WILSON

Sci-FiPRESS START TO PLAY by Daniel H. Wilson
by Daniel H. Wilson
FictionROBOGENESIS by Daniel H. Wilson
by Daniel H. Wilson
FictionROBOT UPRISINGS by Daniel H. Wilson
by Daniel H. Wilson

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

Sci-FiCARBIDE TIPPED PENS by Ben Bova
by Ben Bova
IndieSLEEPING GIANTS by Sylvain Neuvel
by Sylvain Neuvel
IndieCLOCKWORK UNIVERSE by John W. Dennehy
by John W. Dennehy
FictionROBOT UPRISINGS by Daniel H. Wilson
by Daniel H. Wilson