Clockwork Lives is a brand new graphic novel written by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart (the legendary drummer from the band Rush). If Clockwork Lives sounds familiar it should. Clockwork Lives started out as a New York Times bestselling novel in 2012 but starting today (Tuesday June 26th, 2018) it is also available as a graphic novel.
The lyrics from Headlong Flight (a track from Rush’s Clockwork Angels album) really speak well to the theme of the Clockwork Lives graphic novel:
I have stoked the fire on the big steel wheels
Steer the airship right across the stars
I learned to fight, I learned to love, I learned to feel
Oh I wish that I could live it all again
What is Clockwork Lives The Graphic Novel?
Clockwork Lives is a series of 13 separate but loosely connected stories (I can’t explain more without spoilers). The stories are extremely well written and each one very different from the next. All of these stories take place in the same steampunk world of adventure as Clockwork Angels. Despite the variety of stories, the theme of “we are only immortal for a limited time” (as awesome Rush lyric from the track “Dreamline” on the album Roll The Bones) runs throughout the book.
As I alluded to in the intro, Clockwork Lives started out as a full novel but the real root of the creative story goes back well before 2012. For the true origin you need to rewind back to before even 2112 (2112 the Rush album that is, see what I did there?). The first Rush album was titled Rush and debuted on March 1, 1974. This is important because Neil Peart is not just a drumming god but he is also the primary lyricist for Rush. Fast forward a bit to 1975 and Hugh Syme comes on the scene as the “artist in residence” for Rush. But Hugh’s work doesn’t stop with Rush as he has also done album cover art for other bands such as Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Celine Dion, Scorpions, Meatloaf, Megadeth just to name a few. Hugh Syme, of course, did the cover art for Clockwork Lives the graphic novel.
So Neil Peart covers half of the authoring team. So who is Kevin J. Anderson, the other author behind Clockwork Lives? Kevin J. Anderson is a science fiction author of over 50 bestsellers like several of The X-Files novels (Ground Zero, Ruins and Antibodies), several Star Wars expanded universe novels (Jedi Academy Trilogy, Darksaber and the Young Jedi Knights series), five Dune sequel novels, and a seven novel series The Saga of Seven Suns just to name a few.
Insight Comics, the publisher for Clockwork Lives the graphic novel, recently interviewed Kevin J. Anderson and he had this to say about creating the graphic novel:
“Neil and I had already written the novel Clockwork Angels, and we loved the world and characters. We wanted to do something more with that universe and scenario, and we had a lot of ideas for stories about the individual characters…but we didn’t want to just do a collection of random stories. we needed a reason to pull them all together, and the great conceit of Clockwork Lives is the alchemical book, the woman with a quest to collect the stories while building her own. The novel came together just perfectly and we’re very proud of it. I really wanted to see it adapted to a graphic format, but by its very nature this story is not possible to do as a set of monthly single-issue comics. Insight Editions, though, wanted to do the whole thing as a big, ambitious graphic novel. Sold!”
Why Read Clockwork Lives The Graphic Novel?
First off, I highly recommend you start by reading the Clockwork Angels graphic novel. The Clockwork Lives story is set the same location and time of the Clockwork Angels story. While you certainly could read Clockwork Lives without knowing anything about the Clockwork Angels storyline, there are references throughout the Clockwork Lives book that make a lot more sense if you have already read Clockwork Angels. And yes, the story of the Clockwork Angels was the premise for Rush’s album of the same title.
Speaking of Rush, being a Rush fan is another reason to read Clockwork Lives. Not only are there lyrics and themes from various Rush songs throughout the book but there is even a cameo appearance from the band!
But even if you aren’t a fan of Rush or the original Clockwork Angels book the quality of the stories alone in this book should be enough for you to want to read it. One of my favorite stories in the book was The Strongman’s Tale because the message in that story was so impactful.
Clockwork Lives the graphic novel is available starting today and you can order it from Amazon.com, your local book store, or favorite comic book store.
Disclaimer: This Rush fanboy was sent a copy of Clockwork Lives for the purpose of this review. I was a fan of everything Rush long before I was given this book so my thoughts on this are most definitely my own…as it should be (or should I say “all is for the best”).