Apr 27, 2022 | announcement

Announcing The Clockwork Empire, a steampunk Rome novel by Lucas J.W. Johnson

I am really stoked to announce that on June 28, Fireside will be publishing a new novel by Lucas J.W. Johnson: The Clockwork Empire. Publishers Weekly is calling it “a thrilling steampunk adventure.” I’m calling it a labor of love — love for people on the margins, love for the LGBTQIA+ community, love for those who would stand in the way of fascism. And love for this story, set in a steampunk Roman Empire that never fell.

The Clockwork Empire grew out of several stories by Lucas that Fireside has published over the years. When he came to me with a few more in 2018, we quickly realized that this was a world that deserved to have its threads woven into a tapestry. And damn did Lucas deliver. This book soars like an airship across a Europe in thrall to a despotic, corrupt empire with Rome at its rotting core.

But while its scope is grand, The Clockwork Empire’s lens is intensely personal, told in the stories of a motley crew of exiles: an excommunicated Praetorian Guard, her remade muscle, a spy, a pilot, an ex-slave, and a disgraced noble boy remade with a clockwork heart.

Also, there’s a train heist!

I’m really proud of what Lucas has created here. And I am intensely thankful to the team of folks who helped put it out into the world. To Ace Tilton Ratcliff, who made sure the book was kind. To Shaun Duke, Lillian Boyd, and Julian Stuart for keeping the words in line. To Guy-Pascal Vallez, for blowing us away with the amazing art on the cover. To Rekka of CreativeJay, who crafted the spiffy paperback and ebook. To Frank Cvetkovic, for making the cover shine. And to the team at Fireside: Chelle Parker, for all the advice and guidance on getting this book produced, and L.D. Lewis, for helping keep the whole enterprise going.

Excited? Good! You can find links to preorder the paperback and ebook editions of The Clockwork Empire from various retailers here. We know you’re going to enjoy this ride.

© 2022 Brian J. White

About the author

Brian J. White

Brian started Fireside Fiction Company in 2012 as an experiment in crowdfunding and paying speculative fiction writers well above the accepted professional rate at the time. It worked! Thanks, have a great day!

Brian has been informed he has to write more in his bio. Fine! Brian took that experiment through five Kickstarters (and did not die!) and into a subscription model. During his tenure, Fireside published 150 stories, five novels, and one novella, and also published the first #BlackSpecFic report, which examined the massive under-representation of Black short-story writers in the field, prompting conversation, reflection, and change in the speculative fiction community. It remains one of the most important things he has worked on in his adult life. Brian was a 2017 World Fantasy Award finalist in the Special Award, Non-Professional category for Fireside, and Fireside has been nominated for multiple Hugo Awards.

Facing the burnout that is all too common among people who work at small presses, Brian stepped down as editor and publisher in 2017 to regroup and recharge mentally. He returned as interim editorial director in 2020 and resumed full ownership of the company in June 2021 with a great team you can read about below.

In the wider world, Brian is a former journalist who worked as an editor at The Courier-Journal in Louisville from 2006–2010 and at the Boston Globe from 2010–2018, where he was part of the staff that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2014 for the newspaper’s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2014. He still lives around Boston, where he works as an editor for a private company and takes photographs, paints miniatures, and spends time with his amazing wife and various cats.