Return to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism

In The Jewel and Her Lapidarya Hugo, Nebula, and Locus best novelette nominee, and a 2016 LA Public Library best book—Fran Wilde introduced readers to a world of hidden histories, warring kingdoms, magical gemstones, and the powerful Lapidaries who bind them.

This summer, Wilde returns to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism. As the book opens, the last remaining gems have been bound—perhaps unwisely—into new settings, and the control of knowledge, and the binding of it, has fallen to a time-traveling librarian, a thief, and a printing press operator.

The Gemworld is a story cycle that begins with the scattering of the powerful gemstones of the Jeweled Valley across the six kingdoms of the world. From Lin and Sima’s rebellion in The Jewel and Her Lapidary, to the exploration of the dangerous powers of the “Topaz Marquise” in the same-titled short story (available as an ebook or on Tor.com), to the mysteries of “Ruby, Singing” (another short story published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, it is a world emerging in facets, and The Fire Opal Mechanism reveals yet more of them.

Today, we reveal the cover for the book, with art by Tommy Arnold (who also provided illustrations for Wilde’s Bone Universe trilogy and The Jewel and Her Lapidary). Find it below the official summary—followed by some thoughts from the author.

Jewels and their lapidaries and have all but passed into myth.

Jorit, broke and branded a thief, just wants to escape the Far Reaches for something better. Ania, a rumpled librarian, is trying to protect her books from the Pressmen, who value knowledge but none of the humanity that generates it.

When they stumble upon a mysterious clock powered by an ancient jewel, they may discover secrets in the past that will change the future forever.


“With the Gemworld, I want to tell stories about the human condition—about objectification and lost voices, about memory and hope for the future—that I think gemstones sometimes embody… at least these particular gemstones,” Wilde said. “Someday soon (very soon, I promise!) there will be a catalog of the gems, but until then, readers can collect their stories, and see their impact on their world, in these stories.”

As to her thoughts on the cover of the new book:

“I love in particular how Tommy Arnold has conveyed the connections with the cover of this novella,” she said. “The scene from the cover of The Jewel and Her Lapidary, where Lin and Sima are trapped by soldiers, seems to have evolved and escalated for these two new characters in a distant future—and that’s exactly what’s happened [to the Gemworld]. Tommy is a master of drawing the thematic threads from my stories and weaving them into the covers. ”

Preorder The Fire Opal Mechanism, available June 4, 2019.

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