Clockwork Lives by Kevin Anderson & Neil Peart.
Neil, if you don’t know, was drummer for the Canadian trio Rush through most of their career and also the main (nearly exclusive) lyricist. He is also a known author having written travelogues etc in the past. There was a Rush album Clockwork Angels which it transpired was the last Rush album before Neil Peart firstly retired from music and subsequently far too young died from brain cancer earlier this year. In my humble opinion I view it as one of their very best vying with Moving Pictures as my all time favourite. Clockwork Angels was a full blown concept album in the original 1960s/70s meaning. A complete story told through a connected suite of songs. The story was set in an alternative universe where a Victoriana steampunk vision existed with a population guided by a leader called the watchmaker and the amazing adventures of a young man travelling through this world. Neil worked with Kevin (a noted Sci fi author) on a book also called Clockwork Angels that made the story available in a novel format.
Clockwork Lives is a follow up book set in the same world at the same time with some overlapping characters but this time we’re focused on Miranda Peak a young lady who after her father dies has to undertake a risky trip due to his legacy to her. His legacy is a book with alchemy treated pages which when a drop of blood fall in them will write the donner’s life story. Miranda needs to fill the book before she can inherit her father’s wealth.
It’s an engaging read as you follow Miranda on her at times perilous journey and then you get to read the life stories of those she meets on the way and fills the pages of Clockwork Lives with. The best part if you’re a Rush fan is the multitude of lyrical references to Neil’s body of work with them. From the Nechromancer, the Fountain of Lambeth, even the ship Rocinente appears in a very different guise. My favourite was the reference by a book seller to the four Volumes of Fear and their odd release sequence.
Sadly I’ll never hear a new song with Neil’s lyrics and I’ll not read another book he authors but as a final work with its references back to his great body of work with Rush this is a tour de force. I thoroughly recommend it to Rush fans or people who enjoy escapism novels alike.