The Brass Sun

Brass sun 2

The Orrery's outer planets

The Blind Watchmaker

The Blind Watchmaker

Brass Sun is a series by writer Ian Edginton and artist Ian "I.N.J." Culbard (with letters by Ellie De Ville) which runs in the weekly science fiction anthology 2000 AD. It has also been reprinted as a US format series in America.

The plot

Brass Sun is set in the Orrery, a completely mechanical solar system, the planets of which are linked by the mass transit system known as the Rails, which are maintained by an ancient religious order of engineers, the Prime Numbers. Societies have branched out in different directions on the various worlds of the Orrery as contact between them has been lost since the Prime Numbers closed off the Rails. The notion of a creator figure known as the Blind Watchmaker is now denounced as heresy by the religious leaders of the planets. And none of the ruling bodies want to acknowledge the terrible truth: that the Brass Sun which powers the Orrery is winding down, and the outer worlds are already succumbing to the cold which will eventually spell the end for them all.

A young girl named Wren, native to the icy planet of Hind Leg, is entrusted with a vital mission by her dying grandfather: find the key which will restart the Brass Sun and save them all. To do this she will have find strange allies and defeat even stranger enemies.

The origins of the Orrery

Wren, who is occasionally in communication with the Blind Watchmaker, an "intangible mass of cognitive energy," has since discovered that the Orrery was created to house humanity after the destruction of its now long-forgotten original home, the Earth. The Blind Watchmaker used to be "humanoidish", so "when I found the Earth, it was like visiting the house you'd grown up in as a child." He didn't realise the effect his presence would have on the planet, which he accidentally destroyed. To make amends the strange being dismantled the solar system and used the pieces to create the Orrery, placing the tens of millions of surviving humans on it with new memories. The effort used up all of his life force, apart from a small part which took up residence in Wren's head. This allowed the Blind Watchmaker to appear to her in dreams and visions, sometimes bearing an uncanny resemblance to famous British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Wren eventually transferred the Blind Watchmaker's consciousness to the body of a robot assassin.

The creative team

Ian Edginton: "We sat down and talked about how we were going to do it, how each world has its own identity. It's not just me doing the writing and Ian following my lead, it's very much a fifty/fifty collaboration, because the design is such a strong part of it." (Thrill-Power Overload, extended edition.)

Ian "I.N.J." Culbard: "Enormous fun, but entirely mad. Ian would constantly be throwing crazy ideas into the mix, like a continent-sized palace with a vast warehouse devoted entirely to cufflinks, stuff like that. To accommodate that sort of fresh, constantly inventive insanity I decided the design had to always be the first thing that popped into my head. It's all gut reaction, I'd never redesign, and that's probably because there's a constant stream of things needing to be designed for it as we go from one world to the next." (Ibid.)