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Tanglefoot (The Clockwork Century #1.2)

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  493 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Stonewall Jackson survived Chancellorsville. England broke the Union’s naval blockade, and formally recognized the Confederate States of America. Atlanta never burned.

It is 1880. The American Civil War has raged for nearly two decades, driving technology in strange and terrible directions. Combat dirigibles skulk across the sky and armored vehicles crawl along the land. Mi
ebook, 34 pages
Published December 15th 2011 by Subterranean Press
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"it is 1880 (or thereabouts). The Civil War is still underway, drawn out by English interference, a different transportation infrastructure, and a powerful Republic of Texas that discovered oil at Spindletop some fifty years sooner than real life allowed.

The competition of war has led to technological progress and horrors unimaginable, and many people have fled the combating states, hoping for an easier life out west."

Here is the story

"Tanglefoot" It's ab
MB Taylor
Feb 20, 2011 MB Taylor rated it liked it
I read “Tanglefoot: A Story of the Clockwork Century” (2008 or 2009 depending on what source you believe) by Cherie Priest shortly after I finished In the Garden of Iden. “Tanglefoot” is a longish short story or a short novella. It is the first published work in Priest’s new Steampunk series, the Clockwork Century. It’s available online from Subterranean Press at

Remember what I said about not being into series as much as I used to be? Well, I used to *re
This short story exists in the same universe as the Clockwork Century, but having read any of the books in the series is not a pre-requisite.

Tanglefoot is a darn disturbing little story, for all that it's been told before. A tale as old as time, and really we should know by now not to build automatons and AI. Just don't do it, I don't care how lonely you are, or how much you think it will help society. Best case scenario, it won't be a friend to you, and worst case, you're looking a veritable ho
Feb 13, 2014 Wes rated it really liked it
So if Victorian speculative fiction is "steampunk," and Victorian fantasy is "gaslamp," does the realm of Victorian horror have a snappy nom de guerre? Is that what "gothic" means nowadays?

Because while this short story takes place in a steampunk setting, (Priest's The Clockwork Century,) and has some steampunk elements, it is most definitely a horror story.

And really, who would ever expect something to go awry with a mad scientist living in the basement of a sanatorium?
Oct 22, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened
Listened to the presentation by Graphic Audio. I really like Cherie Priest's storytelling. Her characters are believable and entertaining.
I was all set to start on Dreadnought, the next book in the Clockwork Century series, and saw that this short story actually came next, according to Goodreads. I downloaded it and sped through it in about a half an hour.

The story features two characters who appeared in Clementine, but the story takes place before the events in that book (and in fact even foreshadows some of those events). I'm not sure why this story falls after Clementine in the chronology of the series, especially when this sto
Apr 18, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk

Tanglefoot is a short story. I actually read it aloud in the car in a little over an hour. Note this is NOT a novel, it is a very short story and continuation of the Clockwork Century. If you haven't read Boneshaker or Clementine, you won't like it. And even if you have read them, then you might still not like it. I did though, but I was only expecting a fun short story.

After reading it, I actually think it occurs (chronologically) before Clementine. But it might be easier to fol
Aug 07, 2015 Vionette rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt Piechocinski
Sep 24, 2010 Matt Piechocinski rated it liked it
My sci-fi/fantasy consigliare (especially of free stuff), pointed out this freebee, when I told him about Priest's new book, Dreadnaught. I know it's a short story, but, I dunno, I found it lacking in substance. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but I really hope the rest of her stuff is a little more dense (I can only assume that it is, as she's nominated for the Hugo, and what not ... and I should have started out there).

That's the only really negative thing I have to say.

Now, the postivie is t
Aug 11, 2013 Craig rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
While "only a short story" (whatever that means), Priest uses the space here to create a totally engrossing world at the the Waverly Hills Sanitarium. The mix of supernatural and technological shouldn't be a surprise, given the events of BONESHAKER. But this is entirely more overt than the introduction to Priest's Clockwork Century. I, like other readers, was sucked into this story and hope that somehow Priest will find a way to get back to the concepts or characters introduced here. I'm ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Brian rated it liked it
this is the second writing of this review, because goodreads wouldnt take the first one. shitty.

this is the first of the clockwork century tales. and they are all worth it. this one is really short and just doent have much going on for it until the very end which is disappointing. but still, i like like the way she writes.

especially i like that this novel lays a weak foundation and boneshaker picks up on it without really needing this story at all. and then clemetine picks up this story without
Jan 19, 2015 Ernesto rated it it was ok
Very short fantasy/horror story (I read it today at top speed during my daily commute on the bus) set in the Clockwork Century universe and featuring three characters from the previous installment. Unfortunately there are two factors that make this work feel somewhat inferior compared with its predecessors: 1) The characters featured here are among the least interesting of the last novel, and 2) The inclusion of supernatural plot devices in this universe doesn’t quite convinced me; leave too ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a short story spun out of the novel Clementine. I have read several of Priest’s books and none of them were anything like this story. It was really creepy-scary. Dr. Smeeks a kind of mad scientist, developing all kinds of inventions is suffering from dementia. Smeeks has unofficially adopted a little orphan boy named Edwin. They’ve met in less than ideal circumstances. You see Smeeks works and lives in the basement of the Sanatorium he helped build and Edwin’s mom was a mental patient ...more
Michael Davis
Feb 02, 2012 Michael Davis rated it liked it
Good story and characters, great setting (which I think is revisited in her excellent latest novel, Ganymede) but entirely too SHORT of a short story. I've read all she's written in the Clockwork Century series, so I was glad to come across this little morsel that I hoped would tide me over til the next one - probably not out til sometime next year - but all it did was whet my appetite further. Which may have been the intent. . .

She gets better with each outing, and I look forward to the next in
Dave Matney
Sep 04, 2012 Dave Matney rated it liked it
If this was my first venture into the Clockwork Century that Cherie Priest has created, I don't know if I'd come back to it, but that's coming from someone who's already read two other Clockwork Century books. This short is just lacking in any meat that makes the world interesting.

That aside, this is an interesting short. It's much creepier than I'd expected, having read later entries in this series, but it flows well and the characters are likeable.

I hope I notice callbacks to this short in her
Tac Anderson
Oct 19, 2012 Tac Anderson rated it liked it
The orignal short story that started off the entire Clockwork Century series. It's also an interesting piece because it shows a very real transition in author:Cherie Priest|221253] writing style from her southern ghost stories to her more popular steampunk. It's an interesting mix of both. I also recommend that you pick up Clementine, which includes some of the same characters. I'd give it four stars but it's just a short story and I cant quite rate it as well as the full books.
Aug 10, 2013 Damon rated it it was ok
This was by no means a whole book, being only about 30 pages. And ... well, it was okay, but a lot of it really didn't make much sense to me. Mostly I guess because I can't understand how it's possible to build a machine and not know what it does? I mean that from a standpoint of intention - I can't fathom a scenario where if you built something, and someone said "That's cool - what does it do?", your answer would be "I don't really know..." Plus there's maybe a... supernatural thing going on ...more
Oct 02, 2012 Tony rated it liked it
Don't have a problem with its length, a lot can be conveyed in a short story. Tanglefoot is spooky. When the story starts the foundation is set and you know something is going to happen you just don't know what. At the midway point you get a hint at the possibility of what could happen but your still not sure if that's the direction the story will take. When things do start happening your on the edge of your seat wanting to know how things will be resolved. Tanglefoot is spooky in a really ...more
Alison (Lady Coffin) S
Oct 19, 2013 Alison (Lady Coffin) S rated it really liked it
Interesting filler story about some of the characters introduced towards the end of Clementine. It was fun to learn a little more about Edwin (aka boy, aka Parker) and Dr Smeeks, also gives you a little more background on how they came to be part of the Clementine tale.
Vickey Foggin
Jun 06, 2014 Vickey Foggin rated it it was ok
Shelves: steampunk, horror
The Goodreads summary above describes the Clockwork Century series but has nothing to do with this short story. A demented inventor and his orphaned boy caretaker live in the basement of a sanitarium, and the lonely boy builds himself a mechanical friend out of odds and ends he finds lying around. This being a horror story, you can guess what happens next. This is shallow and predictable, not terrible but not really worth reading.
Feb 19, 2016 Charles rated it liked it
This is such a short story, which is what it is intended to be. It has an interesting element with the title character, but the rest of the characters feel flat. Again, because this is a short story, there is not much time and space to make a fully developed tale. I could have passed this one easily and not felt that I missed anything in the Clockwork Century.

It is good enough for a quick hour read, but nothing more than that.
Jul 06, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it
Bad ending, but I never expected this series to swerve into open horror. Gas that makes zombies is one thing, but disembodied spirits taking over a clockwork toy...I liked it, and to be honest, it was like Ms. Priest tried her hand at writing creepypasta. Easily skipable, but an an enjoyable diversion.
Apr 06, 2013 Blaidd rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Short but not entirely unpleasant. I do find myself wishing there was more. More plot. More character development. The setting was interesting and the idea of Edwin's creation and the event that occurred with it. The ending was nothing really special either. Rather abrupt. I suppose that's to be expected with a short story written for a literary publication.
Oct 06, 2015 pdarnold rated it it was ok
This was rather on the creepy side for me. Although I really liked Boneshaker, this just wasn't my cup of tea. The story reminded me of a very scarey show I saw as a kid - minus the steampunk. Well told, to well. I guess I find doll, puppets, etc. that come to life far too disturbing. Orcs? OK. Zombies? Somewhat. Dolls... no thanks.
C. Purtill
Apr 24, 2012 C. Purtill rated it liked it
I love Cherie Priest, love love love. This slight story- a short really, not quite a novella - was just a taste of her fascinating steampunk world. I wanted more depth, which admittedly is hard to get in such a short piece of fiction. So 3 stars solely because I wished it was longer - and that expectation is no one's fault but my own.
David Schwan
Jan 16, 2012 David Schwan rated it liked it
This is a short story about a boy who builds a mechanical man that in the end turns out to be more than the sum of it's parts. What seemed missing was the motivation for the automatons actions, friendly to it's creator, nasty to the Doctor, what was the psychological motivation for this? There also seemed to be a supernatural element to the story which went undeveloped.
Maria D'Isidoro
Nov 30, 2010 Maria D'Isidoro rated it liked it
Shelves: free-ebook, steampunk
Sad and spooky. I think it might've been better if it had been a little longer, with the suspense dragged on more and the characters developed further. I got a sense of a larger story going on, and it's a little dissatisfying that the story ends so soon. I loved the mesh of technology with the supernatural.
Jun 23, 2014 Roger rated it it was ok
Shelves: steam-punk
This short story was not in the same league as the exceptional "Boneshaker" by the same author. To be fair, I am not that fond of short stories, so do not put too much stock in my opinion of this one. It was an interesting mixture of steampunk and horror. I still look forward to reading this author's longer works.
Catherine Siemann
I think because this was published as a standalone, it felt a bit undeveloped; if it had been part of an anthology I would have perceived it as a short story and probably felt differently. It was truly unnerving, and a nice addition to the Clockwork Century series.
While fairly short, Tanglefoot paints a good picture of the sanitorium, and is a fantastic addition to the novella, Clementine. While not appropriate for the novella itself, this short story fleshes out some of the locations and people, and thus they complement each other nicely.
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CHERIE PRIEST is the author of over a dozen novels, including the steampunk pulp adventures The Inexplicables, Ganymede, Dreadnought, Clementine, and Boneshaker. Boneshaker was nominated for both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award; it was a PNBA Award winner, and winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Cherie also wrote Bloodshot and Hellbent from Bantam Spectra; Fathom and the ...more
More about Cherie Priest...

Other Books in the Series

The Clockwork Century (6 books)
  • Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)
  • Dreadnought (The Clockwork Century, #2)
  • Ganymede (The Clockwork Century, #3)
  • The Inexplicables (The Clockwork Century, #4)
  • Fiddlehead (The Clockwork Century, #5)
  • Jacaranda (The Clockwork Century, #6)

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