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My New Project: The Clakkers Trilogy

November 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm

So, hey, Internet, how's it going?  Long time no see.  I've been a bit of a stranger here on my own website.  Life has been crazier than normal the past few months.  Like, super!crazy.  How have you been?

What's that?  Why has it been crazy?  Oh.  Well, since you ask—I'm working on a brand-new trilogy for the awesome folks at Orbit Books.

I've been sitting on this news for months, and I'm delighted beyond words to finally announce the project.  Hooray!  But paperwork has been signed and countersigned, so now I feel comfortable talking about this in public.  (I'm superstitious, you know.)

The Clakkers Trilogy is set in a fantasy alternate 1921.  And I mean VERY alternate.  History changed back in 1671, when Christiaan Huygens stole the alchemical research of Isaac Newton, and combined magic with his own knowledge of clockmaking to invent the first Clakker: a clockwork man bereft of Free Will.   It wasn't long before the Dutch conquered Europe with armies of tireless mechanical servitors…  Fast forward 250 years, and the world becomes an incredibly fun playground for an author.

As I wrote in the proposal, "The Clakkers Trilogy is a tale of predestination and free will, magic and engineering, cold logic and blind faith, love and loss, spycraft and spectacle.  But more than anything else, it is a story about the ticking of the human heart -- whether it be flesh or metal."  You might call it a "gears and geas" story.  (Hat tip to Vic Milán for that bon mot.)

This trilogy was inspired by my short story, "The Mainspring of His Heart, The Shackles of His Soul," which appeared in the Human for a Day anthology.  As I mentioned a long time ago, the moment I had the idea for this setting, I knew it was too large and rich to confine to a single short story.  So I'd had it in the back of my mind for a while to someday return to this world and flesh it out in a longer work.  And now I can, thanks to the wonderful folks at Orbit.

The individual books in the trilogy only have working titles/placeholder names at the moment, so for the time being (and it might be a while) I'm calling them Clakkers 1, 2, and 3.   Catchy, don't you think?  The trilogy, as currently planned, will run about the same length as the Milkweed series.  Needless to say, this project is completely distinct from both the Milkweed Triptych and Something More Than Night

There will be explosions.  But there will be no precognition, no Nazis, and no fallen angels with a Philip Marlowe fetish.

The books will be published simultaneously by Orbit in the US and the UK/Commonwealth.  It's too early to say anything about publication schedules, though.  Part of that depends on me doing my part to deliver the books on time!  So this'll be keeping me busy through 2015.  And, let me tell you, it's a very nice kind of busy.

I am hard at work on the first volume of the Clakkers series, and having a blast with it.  It's always so much fun to start over with a clean slate.  And I'm finding that with every project there's a character who sort of leaps out of the notecards and decides to steal the show.  There was Gretel in the Milkweed books, and (I hope) Bayliss in Something More Than Night, and now there's…  Well, I don't want to spoil anything yet.  Suffice it to say I've met her, and she's bloody awesome. 

Now I just need to start amassing a new research bookshelf.


Paul (@princejvstin) November 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm
Congratulations! Magical clockpunk? Color me interested!
Dan Campos November 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm
I'm glad that this new project has just been oficially signed! Looking forward to read it. :D
Steve Halter November 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm
That's wonderful Ian! The world of "Mainspring" felt like a large space with a lot of potential. I enjoyed that story a great deal and am looking forward to this.
Ian November 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm
Thank you very much, Paul, Dan, and Steve! I'm delighted the project sounds interesting to you. I'll do my very best not to let you down too terribly ;-) That story definitely sparked a lot of ideas for me. I am changing the world around a little bit from the short story, though, now that I have more time to think things through more carefully. In "Mainspring," Jax and all the Clakkers were mute. But in the books they'll be able to speak (with some important exceptions) just because it would have been tedious to write an entire trilogy while always sidestepping that issue.
doug November 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm
Congratulations! About halfway through the first paragraph of the post I started wondering if it was connected to "Mainspring" and you answered my question soon after. Anyway, glad you've got another set of books on the way. In the meantime, come on April! I want to finish the Milkweed books.
Ian November 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm
Thank you, Doug! You are very perceptive. But we already knew that. I hope that the final book in the Milkweed trilogy isn't a letdown. But the book is completely on track -- I just received ARCs last week. (That reminds me, too, that I need to get those ARCs to reviewers! Thanks for reminding me.)
Daniel Abraham November 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm
I'm delighted that this happened. Seriously, seriously spiffed. Did they finalize what editor you're working with?
Ian November 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm
Thanks, man. I'm pretty happy, too. On the US side I'm working with Tom Bouman. I'm not sure how the US/UK stuff will be handled, but on that side I've been working with Anna Gregson on the Milkweed books.
Kris November 29, 2012 at 4:39 am
Congratulations! Sounds amazing!:)
Ian November 29, 2012 at 9:22 am
Thank you very much, Kris!
ferrix November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm
Susan Loyal November 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm
I liked "Mainspring" very much. The world felt much bigger than the story, so I'm glad it's going to have room to expand fully. Great news!
Ian November 30, 2012 at 1:16 am
Ferrix -- heehee! I'm typing away, every day. Susan -- Thank you! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the anthology short story. I totally agree with you, the world was much larger than the story itself. I'm having a ton of fun removing the space constraints and watching it expand.
Den Wesolowski December 3, 2012 at 11:57 am
Congratulation, Ian. Great news! I will look forward to reading.
Andrew December 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm
you're just that damn good. Congrats, Ian. Not only can you write but you are putting out Speculative work that's unique and that I can share with jaded ex-specatriot (ex-patriots-get it ha). I'm more than happy to follow your success as a screaming fanboy.
Ian December 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Thanks, Denne! I hope it proves worth the wait... I appreciate the interest, very much. I don't know about being good, Andrew, but I'm certainly lucky! Not only in finding homes for my writing but also in having such kind, supportive, and enthusiastic friends! I am very grateful. Thanks so much.
James December 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm
Dammit, Here I thought the waiting was almost over. Now I find out that Its not even half way through and there are still years worth of waiting for the next mind warping adventure. I wasn't even half way through "The Coldest War" before my mind was already preparing for the next long wait. Life is what happens between releases of your books. I just don't know where you find the time to also be a physicist.
Ian December 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm
Hi, James! I'm so sorry I didn't see your comment until just now. Golly, what incredibly nice things you say! I'd say that life is what happens around me while I'm scribbling out books and trying to do decent work at my day job so I can still pay the mortgage and have a place to live. The good news is that the wait between The Coldest War and Necessary Evil won't be half as long as that between Bitter Seeds and The Coldest War. So there's that... I just hope the third book doesn't let you down! Hope it proves worthy of your patience and enthusiasm.
Stefan August 19, 2013 at 6:01 am

Really looking forward to this! Loved MILKWEED novels. :)

Ian August 19, 2013 at 7:32 am

Thanks, Stefan!  I appreciate the kind words.  I hope the next books are just as enjoyable!

Ben January 26, 2017 at 4:19 am

I've just finished the third and final book.  What a triumphant celebration of the soul and the meaning of freedom - not to mention some of the strongest female leads I've ever read.  Gripping, terrifying and satisfying.  All the 'ings'.  Magical.  Thank you for widening my world.Type your comment here.

Ian January 26, 2017 at 7:30 am
Well, gosh. What a kind and uplifting thing to say -- thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the series. Thanks for picking it up in the first place.
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