Now you can read the first cyborg novel ever published

Illustration for article titled Now you can read the first cyborg novel ever published

In 1923, the young British author E.V. Odle published what was to become his greatest work: The Clockwork Man, an extremely odd tale that introduced readers to the idea of a cyborg — half-human, half-clockwork mechanism. This "Clockwork man" has traveled back in time to the 1920s from beyond what science fiction writers today would call the Singularity. Now the novel that basically invented cyborgs and singularities is being reissued by HiLo Books, and serialized online for free!


You can read the first part online right now — or just wait for the ebook (with an introduction written by yours truly). It's hard to convey how strange this novel really is — you're just going to have to read it for yourself.

Here is one of the main characters, the conservative Dr. Allingham, sighting the Clockwork man for the first time — at a cricket match:

He looked out of the window, and there was that confounded figure still jiggling about. It had come nearer to the ground. It hovered, with a curious air of not being related to its surroundings that was more than puzzling. It did not seem to know what it was about, but hopped along aimlessly, as though scenting a track, stopped for a moment, blundered forward again and made a zig-zag course towards the ground. The doctor watched it advancing through the broad meadow that bounded the pitch, threading its between the little groups of grazing cows, that raised their heads with more than their ordinary, slow persistency, as though startled by some noise. The figure seemed to be aiming for the barrier of hurdles that surrounded the pitch, but whether its desire was for cricket or merely to reach some kind of goal, whether it sought recreation or a mere pause from its restless convulsions, it was difficult to tell. Finally, it fell against the fence and hung there, two hands crooked over the hurdle and its legs drawn together at the knees. It became suddenly very still – so still that it was hard to believe it had ever moved.

It was certainly odd. The doctor was so struck by something altogether wrong about the figure, something so suggestive of a pathological phenomenon, that he almost forgot his annoyance and remained watching it with an unlighted cigarette between his lips.

Read more at HiLoBrow


Kip Russell: Has Spacesuit, will babble

This may be the first cyborg novel, but I think E.A. Poe invented the cyborg short story with "THE MAN THAT WAS USED UP - A TALE OF THE LATE BUGABOO AND KICKAPOO CAMPAIGN."…

Nice find, however!