In a post-apocalyptic world, a formerly high-ranking official tells the story of the destruction of his 'clockwerk' civilisation.
Steampunk note: This story is anthologised in multiple collections of steampunk stories. A review by Eugene Reynolds in the New York Review of Books notes that the story does not meet the more common definition of steampunk:
But here I think we go too far. Yes, it involves the collapse of a civilization, one built on “clockwerk,” geared mechanisms, destroyed by “sandgrain” tech (replicating nanoparticles of grit that foul up those gears). Humans augmented with clockwerk are killed en masse; only the Grand Technomancer survives, he alone sans clockwerk to tell the tale to an investigator from off-Earth. There is much here over which to marvel (the Grand Technomancer served in the Mechanodromedary Cavalry in the desert—how cool is that?—during the war against the investigator’s ancestors). But, M. Nix, il invente! His clockwerk civilization is not salvaged from the past or a past, real or imagined. Gears (or airships) themselves do not make steampunk, if they are new gears, never-before-seen airships. There is a newness of creativity here, which is no bad trait for a speculative fiction, and Nix has a worthy model on which to draw, with his clockwerk Mechanists fighting bio-tech Shapers, à la Bruce Sterling (whose own turn will come, alas and alack). In terms of steampunk, though? J’accuse Nix!
Eugene Reynolds, [Review of] Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution. New York Review of Science Fiction, September 2014. (http://www.nyrsf.com/2014/09/steampunk-iii-steampunk-revolution-edited-by-ann-vandermeer-reviewed-by-eugene-reynolds.html).