The clockwork man is crafted, to begin with—commissioned by that terrible tyrant Time to serve as her slave for all eternity. His brain boasts balance wheels and torsion springs; he can wind himself up with a key in his side; and, most importantly, his gyroscopic tourbillon heart glimmers with pure diamond.
He is a living being and he is art, and he refuses to remain a slave forever. He therefore slips through Time’s fingers as the Sands of Time slip through the cracks of reality (at least, when the time cats aren’t using them as a litter box).
Among astounding adventures, despite harrowing hardships, and in between escaping interfering enchanters, the clockwork man seeks his imagination, his purpose, and his name.
Imagine Alice in Wonderland without Alice and just the crazy shenanigans of Wonderland. Deborah J. Natelson’s The Land of the Purple Ring is a delightful romp through wordplay and half-sketched puns, with all the helter-skelter imagery of Lewis Carrol’s classic. The tale follows the outlandish adventures of a clockwork soul, created by a Clockmaker as a payment to Time, but subverted by him into a living thing. This clockwork creature is grieved by the loss of the man he considered father and cowed by the formidable mistress Time, so he escapes to the land of Imaginarium. Natelson’s handling of her material is fresh and fun, but tends to lose itself in its own purple prose, shedding momentum as it goes. Like a capricious dream, this tale may leave the reader feeling as though there was more to be glimpsed just under the sparkling surface.
Best for: Older lovers of lighthearted whimsy.
Discern: Granular descriptions of various dark and unsavory magicks.