HiLobrow is pleased to announce our online serialization and print publication of Edwin Vincent Odle’s The Clockwork Man. Considered the original cyborg novel, The Clockwork Man was first published in 1923 — the same year as Karel Čapek’s pioneering android play, R.U.R.
Several thousand years from now, advanced humanoids known as the Makers will implant clockwork devices into our heads. At the cost of a certain amount of agency, these devices will permit us to move unhindered through time and space, and to live complacent, well-regulated lives. However, when one of these devices goes awry, a “clockwork man” appears accidentally in the 1920s, at a cricket match in a small English village. Comical yet mind-blowing hijinks ensue.
New installments of The Clockwork Man will appear weekly at HiLobrow, from March 20 through July 31. In September, HiLobooks will publish a gorgeous 90th-anniversary paperback edition of this title. (Information about this and other HiLoBooks titles here. Cover illustration, above, by Michael Lewy; design by Tony Leone.)
Our publication of Odle’s long-unattainable classic also marks the launch of a partnership with Singularity & Co., the premier digital and vintage pulp publisher, bookshop and lifestyle brand. Selected HiLoBooks titles, including The Clockwork Man and Muriel Jaeger’s The Man with Six Senses, will be made available in advance as a Singularity & Co. e-book for easy viewing on all of your electronic devices.
Singularity & Co. is on a multimedia mission to save the greatest minds of futures past for the world they helped create. From classics to kitsch, they are establishing an archive of awesome to serve the instantaneous imagination of the global village. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with them! PS: Here’s a nice post about both Singularity & Co. and HiLoBooks from the sci-fi blog io9.
“Edwin Vincent Odle’s ominous, droll, and unforgettable The Clockwork Man is a missing link between Lewis Carroll and John Sladek or Philip K. Dick,” says Jonathan Lethem in a blurb for HiLoBooks. “Considered with them, it suggests an alternate lineage for SF, springing as much from G.K. Chesterton’s sensibility as from H.G. Wells’s.”
“This is still one of the most eloquent pleas for the rejection of the ‘rational’ future and the conservation of the humanity of man,” writes Brian Stableford in Scientific Romance in Britain, 1890-1950. “Of the many works of scientific romance that have fallen into utter obscurity, this is perhaps the one which most deserves rescue.”
“Perhaps the outstanding scientific romance of the 1920s,” agrees the sci-fi reference book Anatomy of Wonder.
Rumors that “E.V. Odle” was a pen name for Virginia Woolf are amusing, but unfounded. Edwin Vincent Odle (1890–1942) was a playwright, critic, and short-story author who lived in Bloomsbury, London during the 1910s; his brother, Alan, was a well-known illustrator and eccentric. From 1925–35, he was editor of the British short-story magazine The Argosy.
The HiLoBooks paperback edition of The Clockwork Man will feature a new Introduction, by Annalee Newitz, editor-in-chief of the science fiction and science blog io9. She’s the author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction (2013) and Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture (2006). PS: HiLobrow has published two items by Newitz: an original sf story, “The Great Oxygen Race”; and “How Spock Wins,” an installment in our Summer 2012 series Kirk Your Enthusiasm.
RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION: “Radium Age” is HiLobrow’s name for the 1904–33 era, which saw the discovery of radioactivity, the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. This era also saw the publication of genre-shattering writing by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Karel Čapek, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Philip Gordon Wylie, and other pioneers of post-Verne/Wells, pre-Golden Age “science fiction.” More info here.
READ: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, serialized between January and April 2012; Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”), serialized between March and June 2012; Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, serialized between April and July 2012; H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, serialized between March and August 2012; Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, serialized between May and September 2012; William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, serialized between June and December 2012; and J.D. Beresford’s Goslings, serialized between September 2012 and May 2013.