Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

A clockwork mechanism which represents the movement of the planets around the Sun. It was invented circa 1700 by George Graham (1673-1751), who presented one to Charles Boyle (1676-1731), fourth Earl of Orrery; by 1713 the device was known as an orrery. In fantasy – especially Instauration Fantasies like John Crowley's Little, Big (1981) and Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon (1994) – orreries are likely to represent the Balance of the world (see also As Above, So Below), and their behaviour, certainly if disrupted, will tend to mark the promise or threat of transformative change. Even in Secondary-World fantasies like Lisa A Barnett's and Melissa Scott's Point of Hopes (1995) the presence of an orrery signals a probable threat to the balance of things. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.