Cover image for The Clockwork Empire

The Clockwork Empire

A novel

by Lucas J. W. Johnson


It is the height of the industrial revolution, and the Roman Empire has stood for thousands of years. Airborne fortresses and mechanically remade soldiers guard against threats outside the empire’s vast borders—even as it rots from the inside.

As an ambitious senator rises to power, and a mysterious agent plots the downfall of the gods, a motley crew of exiles assembles to stop the rising fascism of the state: an excommunicated Praetorian Guard, her remade muscle, a spy, a pilot, an ex-slave, and a noble boy disgraced, experimented on, and remade with a clockwork heart.

But smashing an authoritarian state is no simple fistfight in a taverna. Nor can one easily repair a machine that has been rusting for so long. As oppression takes hold across the Empire, the crew must find each other, find their fire, and find the agent known only as Servius—before he leads the world to destruction.


“A thrilling steampunk adventure” with “ambitious worldbuilding. … Fans of steampunk and alternate history will lap this up.”

Publishers Weekly

“If you’re looking for queer characters fighting fascism in a steampunk world, The Clockwork Empire is perfect.”

Geek Girl Authority


Want a taste of the book? You can read the prologue and Chapter 1 for free!

About the Author

Lucas J. W. Johnson (he/him) is a writer, game designer, and entrepreneur. He is the author of several published short stories, and the Founder and Studio Director of Silverstring Media Inc., a narrative design studio working primarily in videogames.

Lucas has experimented with interactive narratives, game design, and emergent storytelling for his whole life, writing stories and running tabletop roleplaying games since he was young. With Silverstring Media, he creates queer and feminist work that explores deep narratives, pushes the boundaries of what interactive experiences can be, and constructs vast and meaningful storyworlds. Diverse and queer stories are core to all of his writing. He has written several critically acclaimed and award-winning games, including Glitchhikers (finalist for Best Indie Game of 2014 at the Canadian Videogame Awards), Extrasolar (Indiecade finalist), and Timespinner. He’s spoken at conferences across North America about game and transmedia design, education, and business practices.

Lucas lives with his husband and cats in Vancouver, BC. You can find him online at his website,, and on Twitter as @lucasjwjohnson.