Author: William Jablonsky
Published by: Grey Oak Publishers
My Rating: 3.5/5
The Clockwork Man is the story of Ernst, a man created entirely of clockwork by a world famous clock maker, Karl Gruber. The best thing I like about science fiction is that it still seems believable. There are things we might have found impossible two decades ago, which happen as a normality now. So when you read about science exploring realms that seem impossible, you naturally get fascinated by it!
In the town of Frankfurt, lived a world famous clock maker, Herr Gruber with many famous and intricate clocks to his credit. But his most precious creation is Ernst (made in 1887), a man made entirely of clockwork, who's been taught impeccable manners, knowledge of a variety of subjects, the power to exercise judgment and some knowledge of his own delicate workings and strength. People come from all over the world to marvel at him, such was the intricacy that it made people scared, but fascinated. Ernst is very much a gentleman and he loves his Master's family, comprising Gruber, his seventeen year old daughter Giselle, his ten year old son, Jakob and their househelp Fraulein Gruenwald.
Karl Gruber doesn't think of Ernst as a commodity, but a piece of art, so he gets offended when a fellow scientist suggests he make many similar clockwork men for commercial purposes. His aim is to keep Ernst safe and find someone trustworthy who'll understand the true nature of his creation when he's no longer alive. But does Gruber know to what extent Ernst is capable? Can he develop feelings? Ernst develops a profound love for Giselle and just as their relationship becomes intimate, tragedy strikes and the family is torn apart. Unable to bear the loss and loneliness, Ernst lets himself wind down hoping no one would wound him up again, in a kind of suicide.
When he wakes up again after being in a museum and now sold to a businessman, he doesn't recognize the people surrounding him or the place where he's kept. Pretending to be a dummy, he notices everything around him, trying to find out what happened when he was wound down. When he finds an ally and confidante in a homeless man who's eccentric but cares for him, Ernst begins searching for books that would tell him about his hometown. Turns out the Master and his family are all long dead, since it's now 2005. Grieving over the loss of his "family", Ernst tries to begin a new life among a series of surprising, scary and heart-warming events.
When I began reading this book, I was happily surprised to find that it's in the form of Ernst's diary, so everything that's happened is from the clockwork man's point of view. It gives the whole picture, about everything as Ernst understands, which is something I hadn't read in a long while. It shows the depth at which the marvelous man can understand things or things related to human behavior he doesn't really understand. While it definitely gave a unique view at things, people and situations, it became kind of depressing in the first half of the book. The reason might be Ernst's limited knowledge about humans and their behavior, or the fact that all of it was just what one person was thinking all the time. He's sometimes confused as to why some things happen, what he thinks should happen, how he feels happy or sad, though he made a point to let readers know that he's incapable of feeling emotions, but he feels them in his nickel frame nevertheless.
At first when I wasn't even halfway, I felt it's become too melancholy because of the whole plot revolving around the same characters, same place and very similar "feelings" Ernst feels and I thought I'd give it a 2 star rating. After two days I picked it up again and read through and surprisingly, it just got better! It definitely is much better when Ernst winds down, sees his Master's old face for a moment and then after he wakes up a hundred years later. New place, new characters, the probable danger he's in, his new discoveries about himself, doing things he never did before, understanding that the world's not made up of just good souls like his Master's family.
I loved the descriptive aspect of the book, even though it's told from the clockwork man's point of view, it does the job great! Especially since the first part's based in late 1800s, that too in Frankfurt (which I've always admired in whatever books I've read about it) I loved that part; the niceties, the ancient streets and people, compared with what he sees a hundred years later in America. I loved the twists and turns (seriously, there's one such character who shows up just once and you're dying to know who that is and it only gets revealed towards the end!), the limits to which Ernst stretches himself to stop evil, to find out his Master's fate and the characters who know and understand what and who Ernst really is. I personally prefer happy endings and this one couldn't have been better! Ernst finds out someone, a descendant of his beloved family and the opportunity to get back what he had lost and was "grieving" over, but now without his Master's counsel, it is up to him to decide his own new life and the way it will be. It's a very good perspective on life, if you really think about it. I love such strong messages in books and stories! They're awesome! Before I forget, the characters' description and personality was also very well portrayed. I especially liked the homeless man, Greely and his funny antics!
Some lines from the book I liked and saved!
Some lines from the book I liked and saved!
"If I now live in a world in which I must turn a blind eye toward evil, I do not think I shall grow to like this place."
This one shows the depth of his understanding and the feeling of loss in Ernst.
"I believe my tolerance has reached its limit. While I do not know the Master's original inspiration for creating me, I can say with certainty it was not to be a commodity, a curiosity to be gawked at and abused with the impunity for the amusement of paying clients. Though I harbored some small hope that his attitude might change, it is now clear that my new master will never value me in the same way Herr Gruber and Giselle had; perhaps I must now accept that no living person does."
PS- The book cover says this:
Created to Fascinate
Designed to serve
Until he broke free
The point is, I don't think the last line holds if we see it from the complete perspective. He didn't "break free". It's making it sound like he escaped, but he didn't. He could very well have stayed with his Master if not for circumstances and people who took him away. Unless it means about the year 2005 when he broke free from his captors, then it makes sense!
Recommended for: Science fiction lovers, robot stories lovers and if you're willing to live through the first slightly monotonous half of the book (but the second half definitely gets interesting and makes it much better), you'd like to read this. :)