Clockwork Game: A Graphic Novel
In 1769, the court of Empress Maria Theresia witnessed one of that era's most amazing feats of engineering: a machine that could play chess. Artfully constructed by a Hungarian nobleman named Wolfgang von Kempelen, the chess-machine played a unique game against each opponent, far surpassing the abilities of all its fellow automata. Throughout its eighty-five year career, audiences across Europe and the Americas flocked to see the mechanical marvel seemingly capable of human intelligence; Napoleon, Charles Babbage, and Benjamin Franklin were among its challengers, and Edgar Allen Poe wrote an essay attempting to explain how it worked. Despite its demise over a hundred and fifty years ago, its mystery continues to fascinate, and its audience's reaction to its Orientalist trappings casts fresh light our present sense of the 'exotic'.