Clockwork Angels, a novel
Hello, Internet. I wanted to write about a book I just finished by Kevin J Anderson. It’s called Clockwork Angels, The Novel. Of course it’s a novel, right? Well, it’s the novelization of the Clockwork Angels album from the band Rush.
First, for those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to be Rush fans, some backstory… Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush, writes all the lyrics; he always has. He is a very well spoken and well read guy, if a bit cryptic at times. In the afterword of the Clockwork Angels novel, he quoted Voltaire and referenced Frederich Nietzsche. Now, I’ve read a little Nietzsche myself, and he’s one heck of an interesting guy. Some hate him, some misunderstand him, but I believe he accomplished his task as a philosopher: he made us think. Agree with him or not, he causes us to examine our own beliefs and ideals, which is what any philosopher should drive us to do.
Anyway, I digress. For the Clockwork Angels album, Neil wanted to tell a story that spanned the length and breadth of the album, through every song. This wasn’t just a bunch of songs about being on the road or the band’s ex-girlfriends, but a story that started with the first song and was built on and fleshed out by each one that followed. It really is a great way to present an album, and it stands alone on those merits.
However, Neil is friends with a popular and successful novelist by the name of Kevin J Anderson. They’d talked about doing some sort of crossover project for some time, and the stars (or perhaps more appropriately, gears) aligned for this project. Kevin took Neil’s necessarily abbreviated story and turned it into a full length novel about an innocent and sheltered young man who sees the steampunk world he lives in, and along the way meets two charismatic and powerful men. One believes in strict order and precision, the other believes in anarchy. Somewhere in between, the rest of the world gets by, as this young man tries to do.
Kevin is obviously a big Rush fan, and has peppered the novel with dozens of Easter eggs in the form of Rush lyrics. I found over a dozen myself, and didn’t even realize what was going on until I’d read a third of the book. There are probably plenty I missed, and perhaps someday a die-hard Rush fan will find and catalog them all.
Whenever I read a book, it motivates me to continue my own writing efforts. Sometimes, I read a novel and think, “That was amazing, I am toe-jam compared to this guy.” However, it makes me aspire to be better, to just try to be that good. Sometimes, though, I read something and think, “That just blew. Wow, I can’t believe somebody published this for others to buy.” This motivates me, too, because I want to do better, to measure up and offer something I could proudly point to and tell others they really should read it.
So, everything I read works its way in, motivates and pushes me, though for different reasons. Still, I take the stellar and mundane, and use both to fuel my own drive to create a worthy product.
When it comes to the work Kevin and Neil have produced, I’m definitely in the category of simply hoping to someday measure up. I’ll use it for inspiration tonight as I work on my own little tale about a young man who discovers the galaxy is both more wondrous and dangerous than he’d ever imagined.
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