Hundreds of golden civilizations have risen across history, juggernauts who conquered nature and other nations—but never defeated the passing of time. No matter how glorious, every grand culture has eventually staggered, tripped, and come crashing down into apocalypse. And from those splintered ruins rise incredible myths, strange artifacts, and dreams of a forgotten time.
My new novel, The Clockwork Dynasty, imagines a race of humanlike robots created eons ago by one such lost civilization. These marvelously advanced machines are trapped in a world of barbarians, stranded out of time, watching the ruins of their cities crumble into a dark age. As their power supplies dwindle, the machines desperately maneuver our civilization toward a technological future capable of understanding them. Called avtomat, the robots in my novel are survivors of an ancient cataclysm, servants of the great empires of antiquity, and immortal shepherds to our civilization. But they are not the first fictional characters to sift through the detritus of a fallen world.
So without further ado, here are five of my favorite stories that do the same: