Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Clockwork Man” as Want to Read:
The Clockwork Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Clockwork Man

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  350 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Ernst, the first man made of clockwork, is hailed as a marvel of late 19th-century automation and gains endless admirers, but when his love for the daughter of his creator is abruptly cut short, his serene existence is shattered.
Paperback, 268 pages
Published July 9th 2010 by Medallion Press (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Clockwork Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Clockwork Man

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  350 ratings  ·  51 reviews

Sort order
Giovanni Gelati
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think I got more than I bargained for here in The Clockwork Man. I usually enjoy novels that have things blow up, wise cracking detectives, international tales of intrigue, secret agents saving the world from the next newest megalomaniac. Here I get to read about a guy made of clock parts and he brings upon me some serious introspective questions, making me examine things I don’t wish to think about or knew I needed to ponder. Go figure. This is essentially a diary from a man made of clock pie ...more
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2010
I loved this book. It is a diary of Ernst, a clockwork man, who was built by a famed German clock maker. Not only does he makes some intriguing and beautiful clocks that are renowned throughout the world in the late 1800s, but he has made Ernst. Ernst begins by telling us that he is keeping this journal at the request of both his maker and an academic who suggested he write down his thoughts and feelings for others to learn from them.

Jablonsky does a wonderful job of making Ernst a wonderful nar
MB Taylor
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Finished reading The Clockwork Man (2010) by William Jablonsky last night. It was a fine read, about a sentient robot, Ernst, built in 1887 by a master German clockmaker, Karl Gruber.

I’m a sucker for robot stories, especially stories about sentient ones. The second science fiction novel I remember reading was The Naked Sun (1957) by Isaac Asimov featuring R. (for robot) Daneel Olivaw. I must have been around 10 years old. [I can’t remember the title or the author of the first sf novel I can reme
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
Mr. Jablonksky captured perfectly the quiet, refined and formal voice of the Victoria era, now found only in older books by Wells and Vern.
This book explores the concepts of sentience, personal freedom, and moral codes adhered to despite social standards.

The character, Ernst, the Clockwork Man, originally obeys these moral standards out of a sense of "programing" though so base a word is never used. As time goes on, he develops his own motivation to adhering to the same high standards.

The autho
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it

Herr Gruber is Europe’s finest clockmaker. His piece de resistance is a clockwork, sentient man named Ernst. Ernst’s tale “unwinds” via his journal which chronicles his observations as disparate as witnessing the birth of National Socialism, and his love of the clockmaker’s daughter Giselle. After a series of tumultuous events which cause him to unwind and lose consciousness, Ernst awakens in a shop window in 2005 Milwaukee. He’s been bought by the shop owner to be used as a curiosity to attract
Aparajita Shorey
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book is the story of Ernst- the clock work man who was created by the greatest clock maker of all times, Karl Gruber in Germany in the late 19th century. Though Ernst is completely made of clock work, he is no ordinary automated machine and is never treated as one by his master Gruber or by the master’s daughter and son and is educated by Gruber to become the perfect gentleman with a kind and caring soul. The story proceeds to show the reader how Ernst earns the fame of being the marvel of t ...more
Miss Bookiverse
I liked the first half way more than the second.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ernst, a clock work man was the master piece of his creator Karl Gruber, the “Leonardo” of clocks. Created during pre-war Europe, Germany to be precise, the life of Ernst revolves around his master and his family until tragedy strikes and the onslaught of events that follow lead to Ernst waking up in modern America more than 100 years later as a window dressing. Having known a life filled with love, admiration and respect, he is confused to be present in a time and society where nobody seems to ...more
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
So I picked this book up from the library because I'm obsessed with robots. It wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be, but it wasn't bad. Just not really what I wanted...

warning for slight spoilers? Mostly of overarcing themes rather than specific plot points.

Chief complaints:
-Ernst needs to learn some US History too, lawl. Germany is hardly unique in its phase of cruelty.
-I am not a big fan of the journal style. It takes away suspense because you know he must be alive and decently well in o
When I first heard about this book (from the author himself!) what initally intrigued me was that it began in Germany but ended in Milwaukee, WI and I dare anyone to name at least one fiction book that takes place in Wisconsin, much less Milwaukee. So the fact that part of it took place in a city I had actually been to was definetly a plus.

The book is told in the form of Ernst aka "the clockwork man"'s diary and this, along with his formal speech is what really makes the book so unique. Along w
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I spent most of the book just wanting to give Ernst a hug. it was interesting to read the story from his point of view as he learned more of people, and came to see the humanity they saw in himself. Fantastic.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
When I picked up this book for a read, my basic assumption was that I was picking up a sci-fi title. The name suggested that, and whatever I read of the blurb did too. I have read science fiction before, but mainly of the Michael Crichton genre. Thrillers, in one word. But when I finally read this book, in the first couple of chapters I realised, this, was not that.

So what is 'The Clockwork man' about? As the name suggests, it is about a machine-man, called Ernst. One who is invented by a famous
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
The idea behind The Clockwork Man immediately attracted my attention after I saw the riveting cover on the shelf at Chapters –a technological Frankenstein’s monster from the 1800s alive in present day Milwaukee. I was intrigued. I read the prologue in the store then rushed to the till and bought it.

About less than 100 pages in I realized this book wasn’t going to do what I wanted it to do. Alas. Overall the book was interesting and fairly original. The writing was good given it’s a first novel f
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
The Clockwork Man is about just that—a man made of clockwork. He was created in the 1800s by Karl Gruber, the clockmaker of his time. While Ernst (the clockwork man) is obviously not human, he functions on his own and the Gruber family treats him like a real person. It's almost like a steampunk Frankenstein. When tragedy strikes the family, Ernst allows himself to wind down and shut off, but is awakened one hundred years later in an unfamiliar world.

The concept is really cool. I like clocks. I l
Harsha Priolkar
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stumbled upon this book on one of my weekend bookstore jaunts. It seemed interesting and on reading, it was!

Based on the intriguing concept of a man made entirely of clockwork and his life in the house of his creator, his 'Master'; a genius German clock maker and a good human being; the story is narrated in the first person by Ernst - The Clockwork Man himself. Written in the form of a memoir, it's a quaint story of love, loss and survival spanning centuries. It's a simple, easy read that is bi
Amritorupa Kanjilal
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’m not a huge fan of steampunk, but I’m very glad I tried out The Clockwork Man. I had pretty much expected a juvenile science fiction thriller riding out a very old plot, but a few pages in, I found myself completely sold on the author’s style and maturity.
Ernst is an automaton, made of increate clockwork, by a master clockmaker, in 19th century Germany. He is intelligent, and capable of feeling most human emotions, albeit to a controlled degree. Ernst, who narrates his story himself, is a gen
Cynthia Rodrigues
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Full and Detailed review:

The Clockwork Man is at heart the story of a mechanical man who exhibits more human characteristics than most of the human beings around him. The plot is delineated in the form of a diary, maintained by Ernst in order to edify the academic community about the genius of his Master, Gruber.

The prose in the first part of the book is especially beautiful perhaps as a reminder of the Old World beauty that was Europe before the World Wa
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sci-fi/philosophy fans
Personally, this was a refreshing book compared to some of the trite I've read in the past few weeks.

However, on its own, it is an interesting story. The style and overall diction match what is being conveyed and Ernst is a relatable, likeable, and interesting character. The story goes into detail that most people would react and how a few might be able to see past it, especially once they got to know him and were open to the matter.

The reason I knocked it down a star is for two reasons. First,
Hemantkumar Jain
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A mechanical robot which has some level of consciousness and feelings; although not called a robot; but instead referred as a clockwork man since he is designed by a clock designer.

By accentuating the feelings and thoughts of the mechanical being; the author indirectly makes us aware of what we are losing out and missing out in life; things very special to human beings which we ignore and don't enjoy.

The story reminded me of the movie Bicentennial Man in many ways. The story moves forward with
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: c-okay
I can't figure out the audience for this book. On the one hand, the story is very simplistic. No twists, nothing new added to the robot/AI genre. On the other hand, it's pretty grim, so it's not a little-geek's-first-steampunk story either. It started well, but didn't go much of anywhere. And there were quite a few incongruities that bothered me (Can you spell 'Milwaukee' correctly if you've never heard of it? Does it really not bother someone from the 19th century that girls are wearing pants n ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This fable is told in first person with journal entries. What I particularly found refreshing is that the Clockwork Man never once desires to be human...a plot device typically found in this type of allegorical tale. Ernst is eager to please, and even when he's abused and disrespected, he displays the human ideal of compassion that most humans fail to reach. The only thing that prevented me from giving this book five stars is, at times, the narrative is redundant and there is a discrepancy about ...more
I found this book to be very interesting. I liked how it was told in two parts and in first person, but I confess I would have liked maybe a few 3rd person scenes of what happened to Ernst during his asleep time. Or, well, maybe not knowing really is the best way. Though, I would have loved to have seen Ernst return or learn more about what happened to his former family. Ernst was such a complex character, I loved how he felt and thought. All the characters were fun and different. The only thing ...more
Jul 14, 2011 rated it liked it
While the story of a constructed man is an old one, Jablonsky gives us a refreshing take on the situation. The Clockwork Man is told in the form of the Diary of it's titular character, and through this first person perspective we get to see the world around him, first of Victorian era Germany, and than other places as the journey of a man perpetually out of place takes place. It's certainly not the most amazing read I've read, but it was really enjoyable and moved along quite well. I kept waitin ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When reading a book about a supposed automaton from the past, especially a book written in the style of a diary, one doesn't expect to be able to connect to what he is 'feeling'. The fact that this book has emotion, written from the perspective of "The Clockwork Man" is extraordinary. While reading you are forced to reconsider what your definition of humanity, and humane treatment is through the experiences that Ersnt is put through. Definitely a good read if you have an open mind, and want to e ...more
David Schwan
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book about a mechanical man Ernst written from the mechanical man's perspective. Ernst was built by Europe's greatest clockmaker. The book is split into two time periods, late 19th century Germany and early 21st century Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ernst goes through a number of trying experiences. This book asks the deeper question of who owns a sentient being. Eventually we as a society will build sentient beings, will they be our slaves or will they be free?
Enka-Candler Library
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this steampunk version of Frankenstein's monster. Ernst is a man made of clockwork who writes his innermost thoughts in a journal. The novel *is* his journal and we learn that Ernst has many more feelings and thoughts than we would have ever imagined. After a family tragedy, he finds himself in America in 2005. Quite a different world from his beloved 1890 Germany. A fun, yet introspective, read.
Dana *
Not truly sci-fi or steampunk.
An expert clockmaker creates a clockwork human. However, the clockwork man, Ernst, is much more and seems to develop empathy, emotion, loyalty and anger.

The story is told from the journal of Ernst life. It is engrossing and enjoyable. The ending does not wrap things up neatly, which is a good ending in this case.
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Usually, I don't read this kind of books so you can imagine how surprised I was when I couldn't leave the bookstore without this book in my backpack.

My intuition was right.

Now, at the end of the story I was left on my knees with a thrill in my heart and joy in my soul for having the honor to read this fabolous book. :)
Apr 18, 2011 added it
Shelves: fantasy
I picked this book up at whim from the library one day and I have to say my choice wasn't wrong this is tale of a clockwork man named Ernst who experiences many things in his life love, loss, tragedy, friendship and self worth at being his own individual. Also dealing with how society views him and the many lives he's effected.
Cecilia Rodriguez
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Told in a series of journal entries, and beginning in 1887 Germany, Jablonsky's plot revolves around Ernst, a clockwork man.
Ernst's voice has a strong similarity to "Data" from Star Trek.
With the very real existence of artificial intelligence, Jablonsky raises the ethical question about machines achieving self awareness.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel
  • Steampunk'd
  • Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader
  • The Animal
  • Vögelein: Clockwork Faerie (Vögelein, #1)
  • The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives
  • Wild Cards and Iron Horses
  • The Horns of Ruin
  • Candy Wars: The Tooth Fairies vs The Candy King
  • Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology
  • The Prophecy Machine (Investments, #1)
  • Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (Steampunk, #2)
  • Scourge: A Grim Doyle Adventure (Grim Doyle Adventures, #1)
  • Zeppelins West
  • The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual—and the Modern Home Began
  • Full Steam Ahead
  • Avalon Revisited
  • Island of Icarus
William Jablonsky is originally from Rock Falls, Illinois, and is a graduate of Bowling Green State University’s creative writing program. His first book, a collection of short fiction titled The Indestructible Man, was published by Livingston Press in 2005. His stories have appeared in many nationally distributed literary journals, including the Beloit Fiction Journal, the Florida Review, the Sou ...more