The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Clockwork Angels

Posted on | September 1, 2012 | 6 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

Back in February, Smitty mentioned that Kevin J. Anderson would be writing a novel to accompany the new Rush* album Clockwork Angels. Well, thanks to a librarian friend, I got hold of an advance reader copy. It’s not bad.

It’s an odd little book, much less Randian than I would have thought it would be, given that Neil Peart was quite the Objectivist back in the day. Anderson does a very good job of spinning a bildungsroman out of Rush’s album without making it seem like a disconnected string of songfics, and while some of the characters may be not much more than thick cardboard, at least there is something more to them than a bare description and a few lines of dialogue. This may sound odd, but I think this wouldn’t be a bad YA novel; there’s a good philosophical argument in there about avoiding extremes and going off to tend to your own affairs, but you’re not being beaten over the head with it. I liked it and would recommend it, especially for the younger folks.

As for the album, well, it’s no 2112; I haven’t been following Rush closely for the past dozen years or so, but they seem to be not wearing their Objectivism on their sleeves so much as they used to. They’ve lost nothing on the technical side, and artistically – well, it’s a nice little rock opera about finding one’s pace in the world. You could do worse, and others have.

(A shorter version of this was originally published here.)


6 Responses to “Clockwork Angels”

  1. Opinador Compulsivo
    September 1st, 2012 @ 5:04 pm
  2. Wombat_socho
    September 1st, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

    Thanks for the link. I’m not usually interested in musicians’ politics, but in the case of Rush it was impossible to avoid it. Fortunately, their Objectivism was more palatable than what one usually has to put up with from musicians.

  3. Opinador Compulsivo
    September 1st, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    Indeed… I’m thinking the Morello/De La Rocha team, who ruin great hardcore tunes with their anticapitalistic crapola.

  4. M. Thompson
    September 1st, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    Still, it’s a very nice album.

  5. Wombat_socho
    September 1st, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    I thought it was okay. Nothing particularly memorable on it after the first three times I’ve listened to it, but it doesn’t make me feel like I wasted my money, either.

  6. Shawn Gillogly
    September 2nd, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    I’ve liked what I’ve heard of it, it definitely is a redefinition of their classic sound, which is fascinating. Rush tends to work in four album ‘cycles,’ where the 1st introduces a variation of their sound, and then they refine it. This is the first time I can say, “This sounds like something from a previous era.”

    And yeah Peart’s lyrics haven’t been overtly Objectivist since Grace Under Pressure, IMHO. Power Windows actually carried a mild capitalist critique in ‘The Big Money.’ (More aimed at how some people abuse money than the system.) And the last few albums, since his personal tragedy, have been more introspective than one would’ve ever seen in the old days. Still, I find the lyrics more honest than anything in ‘mainstream rock’ and the musicianship is Rush. Always evolving, expanding and testing themselves and the limits of the genre.