A far future "dying earth" science fantasy tale about identity, erotic desire, flying water and a mystery...
"This is science fiction the way that Jack Vance's Dying Earth books are science fiction." — Charles de Lint
"... believable character development, glimpses of science behind the solemn nomenclature, and enough irreverence to permit an occasional smile. Whether you expect a royal convergence, romantic destiny, or just a boost to a lackluster gene pool, what you'll get is less definitive — and more interesting." — Faren Miller, Locus
Locus Recommended Reading List, 2005.
Rich Horton's Virtual Best of the Year 2005.
THE CLOCK KING AND THE QUEEN OF THE HOURGLASS
Many billion years in the future, the sun is a huge bloated golden Day God that fills the sky, and the earth is a barren desert. The last remaining water has pooled at the bottom of the Pacific Basin in a thick toxic sludge-lake called the Oceanus by the sterile post-humans that inhabit its salt-encrusted shores.
Liaei is different from the others. She is a fertile female created out of ancient homo sapiens DNA from the dwindling genetic stores, and has been manufactured by the horticulturists in a genetics lab. Liaei has been brought to life for one mysterious purpose -- she is to become the Queen of the Hourglass.
Growing up in Basin City, fostered by the quasi-female modern human Amhama -- the same technician who put her cells together -- Liaei knows she does not belong. She is lively and vibrant and has a savage full head of hair and eyebrows unlike the smooth doll-like humans around her. She is also curious and inquisitive, asking more questions than even the harmonium in all its complexity can answer -- harmonium technology powers everything, can regurgitate histories of civilizations, process liquid toxic waste, conjure music out of the air, run the agricultural hothouses, and fly hovercars, and yet its origins too have been lost in the murk of the ages and it cannot satisfy the restless mind of Liaei.
What does it mean to be the Queen of the Hourglass? Why do love and emotions seem to mean other things to her than to others? And what is that meandering ribbon of light up on the distant Basin Walls, a mysterious bit of ancient technology called The River That Flows Through the Air? Can water flow uphill?
Soon, when she reaches ancient sexual maturity and undergoes the proper training, the Queen of the Hourglass will embark on a journey to meet her consort the Clock King, and there will be even more questions.
But now, the harmonium-based machines are failing, and suddenly humanity is running out of time.
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About the Author
She is the author of critically acclaimed novels DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE and LORDS OF RAINBOW, as well as the humorous Jane Austen parodies MANSFIELD PARK AND MUMMIES and NORTHANGER ABBEY AND ANGELS AND DRAGONS.
Her official author website is www.veranazarian.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Liaei hsa been genetically bred to procreate with the Clock King. She has been brought up in an antiseptic world and struggles with the realization that she is completely different from everyone else. Liaei wants to know why these things are the way they are and the only answer is to confront her destiny with the Clock King.
This book takes place several thousands years in the future. There is little to no water left, everything is breaking down, there are no other creatures except the adapted humans. These humans have to grow all of their foods from DNA. They are no longer what we would call humans. There is little emotion and their bodies have become hairless forms that vaguely resemble what they used to look like. This is the end of the world, but they keep trying to stay alive. Liaei has been created from DNA in a lab. She is the only human alive in this new world that we would recognize. He whole purpose is to mate with The Clock King and produce more DNA. Liaei grows up a guinea pig. All of her vitals are constantly measures and she learns about her duty from a computer that shows her old film clips, books, and others things from our current time to prepare her for her task. This is hard on her because she is constantly reminded how different she really is. She is the only human created from DNA that has survived in a long period of time. So it is crucial that she mates and produced more DNA that can be used to save the dieing race. When she turns 15, she is sent to mate with The Clock King. But The Clock King is not like Liaei. He is frozen in time and is defrosted for a couple days when another Queen of the Hourglass is created. His memory is almost completely wiped clean. But he does remember enough to know that this society is dieing and he is tired of being nothing more than a stud for his DNA. When Liaei and The Clock King meet, things don’t go as planned. The Clock King opens Liaei’s eyes to the world around her and makes her feel more alive than anything else she has done in her 15 years. But how is this going to affect the dieing human race. This was an interesting book. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about it is all the training Liaei receives to prepare her for the meeting with The Clock King. This really shows how the society is locked into the survival mode instead of looking at the big picture. Here they are trying to fix a broken machine with no replacement parts or technology. I admit that I was disappointed in this story. Although it has potential, it just didn’t do anything for me. It reminds me more of a story used for lectures than one to enjoy. If you like stories along this line I feel that you would enjoy this. Sorry, I thought it was more of one meant for the pleasure of reading. I received this story for free from the Library Thing review program in exchange for an honest review.
While I will not go so far as to say I disliked this short story, I must admit that I would never desire to read it again. Whilst reading, for example, I found myself trying to understand the story, the plot; in fact, I would silently ask questions to myself, hoping that the book would answer them in time. For the most part, I forgot my questions - so unimportant and uninteresting were they. By the finish, I simply did not care to understand. There were also parts that I disliked altogether, although I tried very hard to remember to keep an open mind. Sex does not bother me, and I recognise the truth that only a century ago it was common for a child of 15 to be considered a woman (menses were a main determinant there), now it is not. I don't want to read about a 15-year old having sex, let alone a 15-year old having sex because she's been coerced into believing that it's her "duty". While I appreciate the great imagination Vera Nazarian has and uses, for some people (like myself), the journey from her mind to theirs simply becomes too sidetracked, regardless of how well-written and detailed said journey might be. I felt like there was no purpose to this story, and that is what makes me not care for it. I gleaned nothing from it, and almost had to force myself to keep reading. I am aware, however, that this story might be more than slightly interesting to many other people, so I cannot say that it is a pointless book. Would I suggest this to a friend? Not a chance. Would I ever read it again? Absolutely not. Was it a waste of my time? Not completely. I am hoping that others find the greatness in this story that Nazarian feels is there.