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"The automated figures stand

Adorning every public street

And seem to breath in stone,

Or move their marble feet."
Pindar, Seventh Olympic Ode

A Setting trope similar to Steampunk relying on artsy clockwork mechanica. Essentially, identical to Steampunk, but with intricate clockworks replacing steam power as the technology of choice.

This is a Speculative Fiction setting that takes place prior to the industrial revolution. Gears and other simple machines predominate virtually every mechanical construct, heavy machinery, or portable device in the setting. Usually the machines must be wound with a key, but they can also be powered by gunpowder or Functional Magic, or more often, Hand Waved. Even when they are wound, science-savvy audiences may note that the amount of energy apparently stored in a Clock Punk device often seems far greater than the amount of energy it takes to rewind them. The mechanisms and casings will typically be adorned with intricate decoractions and carvings, making some very beautiful-looking machinery if done right.

Another element of this setting type is that while Steampunk generally has a Jules Verne-esque Sci Fi sense to it, Clock Punk settings tend to have a mix of a renaissance or baroque era feel, and lighthearted fantasy; due to Fantasy Gun Control, mixing Clock Punk with Functional Magic is less a strain on Willing Suspension of Disbelief than more advanced technologies.

The setting is often populated by Clockwork Creatures. Expect invocations of Leonardo da Vinci.

May connect to other Punk Punk settings, especially Steampunk and Cattle Punk in early to mid stages, but also Dungeon Punk in late stages.

Examples of Clock Punk include:


Anime


Comic Books


Film

  • The Hellboy films are full of Clock Punk:
    • The first movie has a Russian mausoleum with clockwork deathtraps. One of the villains, Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, is a clockwork zombie cyborg Nazi assassin.
    • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, there's Wink, an ogre with a chained clockwork Rocket Fist. And the eponymous army is made up of clockwork robots; even the crown that controls them fits together like clockwork.
      • Hell, at the end of Golden Army, Hellboy and Prince Nuada fight on giant, moving cogs! Damn, does Guillermo del Toro kick ass or what? See Author Appeal.
    • Hellboy's director Guillermo Del Toro (Of Pan's Labyrinth fame) has stated once that he loves this very trope.
      • His first feature movie La Invención de Cronos tells a tale of biomechanical clockwork artifact prolonging the life of its user.
  • The film Return to Oz features a wind-up, clockwork mechanical man, Tik Tok. Though seemingly from the Steampunk era, he is entirely cog and spring-powered.
  • Hugo's aesthetic is based heavily on this. Justified in that it's set in a railroad station built in the late 19th century; and uncheckable since the original Gare Montparnasse is long gone and the midcentury-modern replacement no doubt was planned to use the same electric-pulse synchronized analog clocks you'd find in a large public High School (and may have been upgraded to all-digital).


Literature

  • Geniuses (With creator of Avatar series below and yes not joking) an upcoming and first "Clockpunk" kids fantasy novel series that already have this setting with "Art is Magic" as major plot point.
  • Later Discworld novels combine this with some Dungeon Punk tropes.
    • One of Pterry's earlier works is Strata, a sci-fi work set on a disc-shaped planet run by clockwork. I'm not kidding (though its creators were).
  • Pasquale's Angel by Paul J. McAuley is set in a Clockpunk-Rennaisance Florence with some Steampunk elements where Leonardo Di Vinci is an engineer instead of an artist. The protagonist teams up with investigative reporter Niccolo Machiavelli to solve a Locked Room murder and uncover a wider conspiracy.
  • The Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House" mixes this with Dungeon Punk. Instead of being the typical Evil Sorcerer, the villain of the story, Nabonidus, is basically the evil offspring of Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli and uses various clock tech devices to secure his home.
  • Goblin Moon and The Gnome's Engine, which have an 18th-century fantasy-of-manners feel.
  • Although Jay Lake's Clockwork Earth series is mostly Steampunk, the series title points to one massive example of this. In fact the entire Solar System is a massive clockwork device.
  • Deathscent by Robin Jarvis features robots powered by a mixture of intricate clockwork and advanced liquid-based alien technology. In the Elizabethan era.
  • Tik-Tok, the clockwork soldier from the Oz book Ozma of Oz.
  • S. M. Stirling's Emberverse, especially in the third trilogy where he comes up with bicycle powered trains.
  • The Medici Trilogy by Martin Woodhouse and Robert Ross portrays Leonardo da Vinci using several interesting techniques and devices, apparently later lost to history. In the first book, he invents small, readily transportable cannon and the ballistic math to fire them accurately at targets he can't even see. Instead of trying to smash down walls, Leonardo and the cannoneers he turns into a strike team blast open doors -- or wipe out troops with grapeshot. He's also shown to have developed a mini-telescope. In the third book, he develops a clockwork mini-ornithopter as a toy, and later builds hang gliders to slip his team into an enemy-held city.
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series mostly runs on Steampunk but there are also some clockwork devices like crank driven ornithopters and automobiles. This is particularly so in the Wasp Empire, which is slightly behind the Lowlands that it is invading technologically.
  • Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and its sequel The Toyminator take place in a clock punk/fantasy hyrbid world. Lead character Jack can't bring himself to believe he's stumbled on a city populated by Living Toys and real-life Nursery Rhyme characters, but clockwork automobiles that never need fuel or, it seems, winding are apparently perfectly normal.
  • The Dwarves in E. E. Knight's Age of Fire use this a lot.
  • Used in The Phantom of the Opera to an extent; a great deal of the Phantom's death traps and other devices involve sophisticated clockwork. It's also mentioned that when he was younger he built realistic-looking humanoid automatons to the Shah of Persia.
  • In the Cyberpunk novel The Windup Girl, advanced metalurgy is used to create hand-wound 'kink-springs' which are the only available portable power source in a future where all the oil has been used up.
  • The main setting of Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief, the Oubliette Colony on Mars follows the aesthetics of Clock Punk very closely, most notably with the Watches that measure each citizen's time as a Noble before they are turned into robotic Quiet - they combine mechanical clock parts with quantum entanglement - but in terms of technological advancement they are a hyperadvanced transhuman civilization - and still the technological backwater from the perspective of the inner planets.


Live-Action TV

  • The clockwork maintenance droids in the Doctor Who episode "The Girl In The Fireplace". Unlike most these are from the 51st century appearing to be meant to repair a spaceship without the need for conventional power sources.
    • More generally, the Time Lords are replete with clock motifs, from the gear-shaped hats to their writing system, which is full of circles and looks like some sort of seasonal chart.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Concerning Flight" features a hologram of Leonardo da Vinci equipped with the space-age technology to realize his designs. A few other Voyager episodes feature his creations as well.
  • Deep Space Nine. In "Explorers" Sisko and his son build a Bajoran light-sail craft with a distinctive clockpunk appearance.
  • The opening to Game of Thrones is filled to the brim with stunning Clock Punk.
  • The CBBC series Leonardo has Leo (of course) creating Clock Punk devices for the sake of it, and a sinister conspiracy who want to use it as a weapon.


Music

  • Emilie Autumn's stage shows involve Clock Punk and Steampunk props and costumes.
  • Vernian Process, to a degree. Especially songs like "Her Clockwork Heart".
  • The Watchmaker's Apprentice by Clockwork Quartet is a Villain Song about a disgruntled ex-employee framing his boss for murder using a weaponized pocket watch. [1]
    • Given the name of the band, it should be no surprise that their other music also heavily features Clock Punk themes.
  • The new Rush album, called Clockwork angels has a lot of themes of this.
    • Also in the 2010 Time Machine tour.


Real Life

  • As mentioned above, Leonardo da Vinci is noted for, among other things, sketches of then-futuristic devices that resemble clockpunk versions of modern devices including helicopters, gliders, parachutes, main battle tanks, and even robots. Recently testing has suggested that his designs for triangular parachutes and Gatling guns would have actually worked.
    • The majority of them seem like they would work. The problem is that they're inefficient and in Leonardo's day a lot of them would have been extremely difficult and expensive to construct.
      • If not downright impossible: most of them relied on human or animal muscle power.
  • The ancient Greeks had some pretty advanced clockwork-style devices that we know next to nothing about, because the only surviving sample is the Antikythera mechanism, and the written record about their machines is very thin. But studies of the Antikythera mechanism put its complexity and craft as comparable to 18th century Europe.
  • Al-Jazari, a medieval Middle-Eastern scientist, had many inventions, including a musical band made of Automatons, centuries before Leonardo.
  • Japanese karakuri dolls and their 18th century European counterparts: Gear driven robots that could do things such as play music, serve food or write. Pretty much the direct ancestors of those creepy fembots they always show in Japanese tech exhibitions nowadays.
  • In Europe in the period directly before the Industrial Revolution kicked off, clockwork technology had become very advanced, to the point where some truly elaborate setups were constructed in the richer royal courts. One example was an entire clockwork garden where as you walked through it, pressure on the floor plates would cause various clockwork animals to react as if alive. Several natural philosophers of the time wrote of these clockwork displays as their inspiration for later machinery.
  • The difference engine.
    • Its successor, the analytical engine, had it ever been built, would have been the first ever general-purpose, programmable, Turing-complete, digital computing machine. How awesome is that?
      • Awesome enough that someone's trying to finish the design and build it.
  • The sea clocks on John Harrison. He was never trained as a clockmaker, he was just a genius and taught himself. In the process, he developed the grasshopper escapement and encased roller bearings. He eventually built four sea clocks, designed for the purpose of finding longitude at sea, something which had been disasterously impossible before. Check out Dava Sobel's book Longitude for more on the subject.
  • Occasionally invoked even today, as an energy-saving alternative to powered devices. An example would be spring-driven carts that automatically roll themselves across a factory floor when a predetermined weight is transferred onto them, then tip out their contents and roll back to their previous position.


Tabletop Games

  • A Tabletop RPG example is Deadlands: The Weird West, though it seems to slide between Cattle Punk and Clock Punk as the players demand.
    • Although it's predominantly Steampunk as mechanical gizmos are usually powered by ghostrock, an extremely efficient coal imbued with spiritual energy.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons, The Lawful Neutral Heaven is Mechanus, a place where continents, cities, and even many of the local lifeforms are actually made out of gears.
    • Some of the domains of Ravenloft make use of clockpunk-style mechanisms. These may be either genuine clockwork technology, or golems that only look like clockwork, depending on the domain and the sanity (or lack thereof) of their makers.
  • Mechanomancers are Clock Punk magicians in the modern day, who build sentient constructs powered by pieces of their own sanity.


Toys

  • Mechanisms like this appeared at times in Bionicle, although they never really dominated the universe. Toy-wise, most of the earlier sets had gear-based action features, which the designers gradually abandoned. Story-wise, Turaga Dume's secret chamber in the second movie had a sundial-mirror-thing built into its floor, that used a clockwork mechanism to rotate. And though we didn't see it, the Vahki robots also made use of these according to Word of God.


Video Games


Webcomics

  • Agatha Clay, the female protagonist in Girl Genius, creates little thinking, self-replicating clock-work robots that follow her around and help out in various ways. Although the comic belongs to the Steampunk genre, this particular feature is clearly clockpunk.
    • The clockwork robots created by the spark Rembrandt van Rijn are considered the pinnacle of the Clock Punk art. Phil and Kaja prefer to describe the setting as "Victorian Gaslamp Fantasy". One might suppose it the result of society following the path of further refinements in Clock Punk, instead of dirtier coal-driven steam engines... at least in the Europa ruled by Baron Klaus Wulfenbach.
  • Homestuck brings us the Land Of Heat And Clockwork, which mixes this with Lethal Lava Land.


Web Original

  • SCP-217, the disease that turns the organisms it infects into clockwork creatures, in the SCP Foundation.
    • Also SCP-882, the gearbox that mind-controls people into feeding it spare parts, and SCP-914, "The Clockworks".
  • The Dominion from Dominion and Duchy is described as using clockwork technology. To clarify, this is a science-fiction series featuring a galactic government run from a clockwork planet! The gears are apparently turned by something called an "Eternity Gate".


Western Animation

  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears, wherein most examples are Gummi-built Lost Technology.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender have more Asian varition of this and they got very few to several elements in Fire Nation's military though out season (book) 1 and (book) 2; And this punk was even explore in compare with Steampunk in episode when Gang visit Northern Air temple who now occupies by Earth kingdom refugees and thier unofficial leader named "The mechanist" who personality based on daVinci.
    • Only of his inventions the Air Balloon is become plot element in two seasons later by Fire Nation's military advisor to capture remaining warriors that lose the invasion of Fire Nation's capital.
  • In Futurama, Leonardo daVinci's hidden inventions have this. So does the entire planet of Vinci, though they do also have holograms and rendering software.
    • We don't see how the holograms and rendering software work. They could also run on Clockwork.
  • Mechanicles from Disney's Aladdin animated series makes heavy use of it.
  • The tinker fairies in Disney Fairies use this a lot.

Notes

  1. I guess you could say the victim was killed...*Glasses Pull*...by a Punch Clock Villain. YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
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