Margaret Killjoy is a transfeminine author and editor currently living on a land project in the Appalachian mountains. Her most recent books are the Danielle Cain novellas, published by Her work primarily deals with themes of power and anarchism, as well as gender, social transformation, and people living itinerant or criminal lifestyles. Margaret spends her time making crafts and complaining about authoritarian power structures and she blogs at

What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower by Margaret Killjoy

Descend into the depths of the undercity and embroil yourself in the political struggles of colonialist gnomes and indigenous goblins. Fly in air balloons, drink mysterious and pleasant cocktails, smoke opium with the dregs of gnomish society. Or dream and speak of liberation for all the races. Fall in love and abscond into the caverns. It s up to you, because this is an adventure of your own choosing. From the founder of SteamPunk Magazine and editor of Mythmakers & Lawbreakers (AK Press, 2009) comes this interactive novel of danger, drugs, and revolution.



  • "In What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower, the estimable Margaret Killjoy takes a story-form usually associated with younger readers and infuses it with decadence and absinthe along with delirious and dissolute fantasy. If you're choosing your own adventure, I strongly recommend you make it this one."

    – Alan Moore, author of Watchmen
  • "If you make your way through to the end, you'll discover that Killjoy s not just spinning a shaggy-dog story; there's a surprising amount of heart and adventure to be had if you're bold enough to choose the path of heroism."

    – Cory Doctorow, author of For The Win



Goodly reader, in this story you will take the role of Gregory, a curious and youthful gentleman of British birth living in an ambiguous city in 19th century France. And while this story is indeed adventurous—lest its very subtitle be criminally misleading!—you must bear in mind that you, Gregory, are more acquainted with absinthe and vice than firearms and acrobatics.

But you will not venture forth with empty hands or pockets; we shall not allow you to be so underprepared! At the beginning of this tale you are wearing a fashionable, if cheap, suit—complete with black wool overcoat and starched-felt bowler. You have a pocket watch on a chain. But this is no ordinary pocket watch; this pocket watch has been over-wound and is in need of repair. Your wallet is empty of money; they seem to have taken it all at the bar. In one hand you bear a simple, bronze-headed cane of stained wood, born as an affectation. In your trousers pocket you have a silver ring that you won in a game of chance, a ring that you were hoping to give to your lover. And of course, you would not consider leaving your chamber without an ample supply of intoxicants, which may be found in various flasks and bottles upon your person. It is with these provisions that you begin your absinthe-muddled journey into the depths of the undercity.

This book, as you may have conjectured, does not read like a normal book. This book is not constrained by the limits of linear form. You will be allowed to make choices. Each section is numbered. At the end of each section, you will be either told which section to read next, or be given a choice. Each choice will be presented as a section number, in bold, and a page number (in parenthesis). Drunk on the green fairy you may be, we hope that this does not overtax you!

I won't lie to you; some of the choices may very well lead to your death—or to fates still worse! The honest thing to do, of course, when you reach such an end would be to admit defeat. However, it is important to remember that this is just a book. There will be no one to scold you if you backtrack through time and make new, hopefully wiser decisions.

To begin, turn to One.