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Comments for Clockwork Game
Clockwork Game: 01/29/15
Clockwork Game by Jane Irwin is a historical graphic novel about Wolfgang von Kempelen and his chess playing machine which was the hoax of the eighteenth century. Von Kempelen made a career for himself by putting his machine against different chess players, usually defeating them. But even from his early days, he had his naysayers who could see it was a hoax but couldn't figure out how exactly the trick worked.
The book opens after Kempelen's death as a man in Boston has taken possession of the machine and hopes to restore it. As he tries to figure out how the machine works (it doesn't, and never did) we are treated to its history.
It's eventually revealed that the trick is an elaborate blending of puppetry and contortion. The chess playing Turk was essentially the same set up as modern day Oscar the Grouch. Everything that Kempelen did was misdirection from the man or woman hiding inside playing on behalf of the machine.
While the book isn't 100% historically accurate, the author includes an afterword outlining the changes she made in adapting the story to a graphic novel format.