Rush's new album, Clockwork Angels, which will be available everywhere June 12, has been adapted into a "steampunk" science fiction novel by international bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson and Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart.
Peart's lyrics for Clockwork Angels—the band’s 20th studio album, and their first-ever full-length concept album—form the backbone of a colorful adventure story, which is expanded in Clockwork Angels: The Novel (ECW Press). The story tells of a young man caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. On a quest to follow his dreams, he travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, airships and steam engines, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.
Anderson has over 50 national and international bestsellers to his credit, and has been a Rush fan for years. His first novel, Resurrection, Inc., was directly inspired by the Rush album Grace Under Pressure, which sparked a long-term friendship with Peart. "You can find Rush references sprinkled through many of my Dune novels, the Saga of Seven Suns, my Terra Incognita trilogy," Anderson says. "Probably more than even I can identify, because the music is so intertwined in my imagination."
Peart, who's written five books of his own (Masked Rider, Ghost Rider, Traveling Music, Roadshow, and Far and Away), had previously co-written a short story, "Drumbeats," with Anderson, and is an avid reader of Anderson's fiction. "For something like 20 years, Kevin and I discussed working on a project together that would marry music, lyrics, and prose fiction," he says. "The right idea and timing eluded us for a long time, but at last, both converged perfectly."
Peart first approached Anderson with the idea for the novel when Rush was in the early stages of creating the album. As the lyrics and music were completed, the two brainstormed the story, characters, setting, adventures, and ideas via email. The artist Hugh Syme, who created eight illustrations for the CD booklet and original works for the novel, also provided inspiration.
"This is a dream project for me," Anderson says. "I have always envisioned epic stories when listening to Rush music, and now working with Neil, it’s possible to translate those stories to the printed page. Clockwork Angels: The Novel turned out even better than we had hoped. I think it's one of my very best books."
"As my 38 years with Rush will attest, I very much enjoy collaboration with like-minded artists," Peart says. "Working up this story with Kevin was one of the easiest, yet most satisfying projects I have ever shared—easiest, because we almost always simply agreed with each other's ideas, and most satisfying because I am so proud of the result."
Clockwork Angels, the album, will be released on June 12. (Get it from the all-new Roadrunner webstore!) Clockwork Angels: The Novel will be in stores in September, to coincide with the launch of Rush’s North American tour dates. ECW Press will publish it in hardcover with full-color illustrations by Hugh Syme; the audiobook will be available from Brilliance Audio, narrated by Neil Peart.