Review: Clockwork Angels / Author: Kevin J. Anderson / Publisher: ECW Press / Release Date: October 11th
The concept album is back! And this time you can buy the book too! Working in close collaboration with the band's lyricist Neil Peart, Kevin J Anderson has elaborated the themes and ideas behind Rush's new record into a steampunk fantasy novel, which in turn has been illustrated by artist Hugh Syme. Those crazy prog rockers. What will they think of next?
It's set in a rigidly codified land ruled over by a benevolent tyrant known only as the Watchmaker. Nearing his seventeenth birthday and longing to see more of the world than just the village where he's been raised, young Owen Hardy embarks on a series of hazardous journeys. Along the way he joins up with a travelling carnival, voyages by airship, wanders the desert and has several run-ins with the Watchmaker's arch-nemesis, the Anarchist.
Anderson can pen a nifty sentence and there are some memorable touches, such as the Watchmaker's faithful pet Dalmatian, long dead but still accompanying him for walks thanks to the magic of clockwork. But with its clumsy opposition between order and free will, the whole thing feels a bit too twee and simplistic for adult readers, although it might well appeal to a younger audience. Still, turning a record into a book is an interesting idea, and who knows, if it catches on, maybe one day they'll do a novelization of The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter in Potato Land. A man can dream.