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 (>>> 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.