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The Clockwork Dynasty
Cover of The Clockwork Dynasty
The Clockwork Dynasty
A Novel
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An ingenious new thriller that weaves a path through history, following a race of human-like machines that have been hiding among us for untold centuries, written by the New York Times bestselling...
An ingenious new thriller that weaves a path through history, following a race of human-like machines that have been hiding among us for untold centuries, written by the New York Times bestselling...
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Description-

  • An ingenious new thriller that weaves a path through history, following a race of human-like machines that have been hiding among us for untold centuries, written by the New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse.
    Present day: When a young anthropologist specializing in ancient technology uncovers a terrible secret concealed in the workings of a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll, she is thrown into a hidden world that lurks just under the surface of our own. With her career and her life at stake, June Stefanov will ally with a remarkable traveler who exposes her to a reality she never imagined, as they embark on an around-the-world adventure and discover breathtaking secrets of the past...

    Russia, 1725: In the depths of the Kremlin, the tsar's loyal mechanician brings to life two astonishingly humanlike mechanical beings. Peter and Elena are a brother and sister fallen out of time, possessed with uncanny power, and destined to serve great empires. Struggling to blend into pre-Victorian society, they are pulled into a legendary war that has raged for centuries.

    The Clockwork Dynasty seamlessly interweaves past and present, exploring a race of beings designed to live by ironclad principles, yet constantly searching for meaning. As June plunges deeper into their world, her choices will ultimately determine their survival or extermination. Richly-imagined and heart-pounding, Daniel H. Wilson's novel expertly draws on his robotics and science background, combining exquisitely drawn characters with visionary technology—and riveting action.
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Prologue
    The age of a thing is in the feel of it. Secrets are locked in the finger­prints of cracked porcelain and the bloom of rust on metal. You've just got to pick up a dusty artifact in both hands and squeeze your eyelids shut. With a little thought, the mind-reeling eons of time will stretch out before you like a star-filled sky.

    I didn't learn this feeling in a classroom. No scientist does.

    My grandfather, my dedushka . . . he taught me this awe for the forgotten past.

    When I was sixteen, Vasily Stefanov caught me hiding in his toolshed, rummaging through his war souvenirs and trying to open the brass padlock on a battered green ammunition box with a screwdriver. He whistled low, like a cuckoo. This was how he'd gotten my attention since I was a little girl, and I froze in embarrassment.

    Instead of punishing me, he told me a story.

    "You are so curious," he said, words soaked in the heavy Russian accent he brought to the United States from another life. "What are you looking for?"

    "I'm sorry, Dedushka," I stuttered. "Nothing. I only wanted to—"

    He waved me off with a callused palm.

    "It's okay. Curious people learn things," he said.

    My grandfather took the ammunition box from me and set it clattering on his workbench. He unlocked the padlock and opened the dented lid, revealing a few faded photographs, an old pocket watch, and scattered medals. Then, he lifted out an oily cloth with something heavy wrapped in it. Without a word, he dropped the shrouded bundle across my palms.

    Inside, I found something metallic and dense, something so intricate and alien that my breath caught in my throat. Etched into a crescent-shaped slice of metal the size of a seashell, I saw a labyrinthine pattern of grooves—a language of bizarre angles.

    "This thing," he said. "This incredible thing. I always meant to share it, you understand? But the years march."

    "It's heavy," I said.

    "It is a relic from a war. With a story I have never told anyone."

    I remember his face now so clearly, lined with wrinkles that could be scary until the old man smiled and you saw where they came from.

    "Do you believe in angels, June?" he asked.

    "I don't know," I responded. "No."

    "Perhaps you should," he said.

    Grandfather cleared his throat, leaned against a creaking workbench.

    "I was barely a teenager, same as you, when the second world war came. My family lived in a village near the Ural Mountains. The Germans stormed onto Russian soil and it was decided I was old enough to journey to the front. All the boys in the village were sent. We were excited. Excited."

    He shook his head at the memory.

    "Stalingrad. Winter," he said. "Early in the battle. We were already starving. Frozen. The Germans had pushed a million Soviet soldiers nearly to the banks of the Volga. The women and children and wounded who were left in the city . . . they finally tried to escape across the icy black river. All hope was gone. It was only survival then.

    "The Volga was choked with great green military tankers, filthy fishing rigs, civilian yachts, and human beings, thousands of them, a—a . . . mass of them, clinging to anything that would float. And the low gray clouds over the river were screaming with Nazi warplanes. The sky was weeping tears of fire onto the backs of those women and children. Oil and gas had spilled on the water. The river herself was burning.

    "I and the other scouts were on the near bank, covering the retreat. Stalingrad itself was already bombed to oblivion. You can't understand . . . it was a moonscape. Another...

About the Author-

  • DANIEL H. WILSON is the bestselling author of Robopocalypse, Robogenesis, and Amped, among others. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and earned a B.S. in computer science from the University of Tulsa and a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two children.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2017

    The author of Robopocalypse draws on his knowledge of robotics in a tale of historically based sf. Young scientist June discovers a 300-year-old mechanical doll, showing that she's not crazy to believe her grandfather's stories about a living race of automatons stalking the earth. Optioned for film.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 28, 2017
    While the idea of a hidden history of sentient clockwork beings may be intriguing, Wilson’s execution is inconsistent and sometimes self-contradictory. Narration alternates between a present-day anthropologist named June and a magically empowered automaton named Peter, who begins his tale in 1709 Moscow. June’s field of study is mechanical antiquities, which is pretty convenient, since a relic that came into her possession through coincidence is about to drop her in the middle of the hidden civil war between sentient machines. The story is challenging to sink into, with very short chapters jumping back and forth in time and place in a way that is meant to be complementary but comes across as jarring. The novel is further hampered by main characters who are flat and lacking in personality, a homogeneous cast, weak coincidences, and lackluster heroics.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2018

    June, an anthropologist who specializes in ancient technologies, unwittingly puts herself in danger after she reveals a secret about the relic her grandfather left her when he died. A lethal robot, who will stop at nothing to gain control of the artifact, attacks her, but she is rescued by another mechanical being, Peter, who has been programmed to devote his life to justice. Dual narratives follow June in the present day and Peter throughout his prolonged existence in modern and ancient history as he tries to learn when and why he was created. A hidden world where robots pose as humans conceals in plain sight a centuries-old conflict involving automatons who were each created with a unique passion and code. The chapters are brief, with the rapid pace of a Dan Brown novel. There's plenty of action here, but Wilson also raises questions about the purpose of life and what makes someone human. VERDICT For followers of the author's "Robopocalypse" series as well as fans of fast-moving steampunk or anyone who has graduated from Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret.-Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 1, 2017
    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 Silferstrom, 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Willamette Weekly "What Wilson does as well as any writer alive is create self-contained and fully realized worlds--the cinematic stuff of dreams and stardust, mixed with the dirt of actual living. He does so with sensitivity, intelligence and a gift for near-baroque detail."

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