Clarkwoods Literary Universe
The Clarkwoods Literary Universe is a fictional universe where time travel is possible, reality is cyclical, and the world as we know it is just slightly off. It is the work of author & illustrator E. Christopher Clark.
The primary protagonists of Clark’s Stains of Time series are members of The Silver Family, a Massachusetts-based clan of frustrated artists trying to strike a balance between familial obligations and dreams of striking it big. The Piano of Death stars musician Veronica Silver, The Boot of Destiny features Veronica’s valedictorian daughter Tracy and paint-by-numbers cousin Michael, while The Chains of Desire centers on Michael’s stripper sister Ashley and the rock star Robin Gates.
But while many of the characters in Clark’s fiction are human, not all of them are Earthlings. In fact, one of Clark’s most beloved short stories “House of Thrones, Game of Cards” tells the tale of the descendants of Arnashi the First Queen of Onterey—the founder of a human settlement on a planet far, far away.
And if that’s still not weird enough for you, Clark’s world has a shapeshifting species called the kíndalla, elves who count Santa Claus as a member of their species, and dwarves who are so technologically advanced they’ve created a synthetic symbiotic organism that’s made them the number one arms dealer in the universe.
Most of the books and stories Clark has published are set in a slightly-off version of the real world, but there are some stories (notably in the books Out of the Woods and Under the World) which are set in the more fantastical world. And the things Clark is working on now (February 2021) are headed in that direction, too.
In the slightly-off real world, many stories are set in a fictional version of Clark’s hometown of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Others take place in a house on Cape Cod which sits on property that’s belonged to the Silvers since the 1600s, or in a home in Hawaii that Michael Silver and his wife Jenna bought in the early 2000s.
The gateway to a lot of the weirdness in the world is a strange pub called The Strumpet’s Sister, which appears on the banks of rivers throughout the universe whenever it feels like it—and disappears just as randomly.
In the really strange world which exists between reboots of reality, the action of the Clarkwoods Literary Universe takes place in Eden—a supercontinent surrounded by The River Without End. It is ruled over by The Council of Five, a collection of delegates from the lands of Oz, Wonderland, Nunya, Nalké, and The Reek.
- If you’re looking for something short, just to see if Clark’s work is right for you, start with “The Price.”
- If you’re looking for straight-up realism, start with “Time’s Fool.”
- If you want weird and disturbing, check out “The Pieces.”
- And if you want it all, “House of Thrones, Game of Cards” will give you a great taste of where this universe has been and where it’s going next.
To Get Even More Meta
Check out the meta section of this website, which explores the hows and whys of what Clark is doing here.
A Note on Canon
Thanks to the cyclical nature of reality in the CLU, every published or publicly performed work by the author E. Christopher Clark is canon. If you’ve ever read, watched, or listened to something he’s made, you’ve already visited the CLU.
Earth-669 is the designation given to the current iteration of the universe. The number was chosen because it brings to mind both a sexual position and the number of the beast. If pressed, Clark might tell you that he picked it to evoke one of his favorite Nine Inch Nails lyrics (“the devil wants to fuck me in the back of his car”)—a lyric that encompasses, all in one sentence, the humor, horror, and salaciousness with which Clark hopes to imbue his work.
But he might be bullshitting you.
Some of Clark’s first works take place in earlier iterations of CLU’s reality. These include: the mid-90s comic book series Blood Red, the 2002 edition of Those Little Bastards (intentionally misspelled Those Little Bastads for reasons far too convoluted to get into here), the 2010 edition of All He Left Behind, any works published in outside magazines and anthologies, all of Clark’s publicly performed stage plays, and the collected musical works of his one-man band Pop Bubblegum Trash.
The short story “Revelation,” published in both editions of Those Little Bastards, takes place in the iteration of CLU’s reality that occurred just before the Earth-669 iteration (Earth-668, if you will). It is because of her remorse over the events depicted in this story that Emily Henderson travels through time to “correct” history (as seen in the story “Deus ex Machina”), rebooting reality in the process.