Friday, January 21, 2011

The Half-Made World

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

I haven't read many books within the fantasy sub-genre known as steampunk, but from the few books I've read, it's a genre that appeals to me. The books I've read have all taken place in very creative worlds, consisting of technological systems that mirror those of the real world but with just enough of a variation to give the book a slightly skewed feel. They also contain fantastical creatures and humans who, like the technology, resemble those of the real world, but are not quite right.

The Half-Made World takes place in a world that is just that, half-made. Descriptions I've read of the book describe it as a reimagining of the American West during the 19th century. Only the west in this world isn't just uncharted and untamed. It's much more than that. It experiences weather systems that are extreme. It contains creatures that inhabitants of the made world would never dream could exist. And the line between the earth and the sea starts to get a little "fuzzy".

The book is about two warring factions: the Line and the Gun. The Line is an industrial force that enslaves the inhabitants of the world as it continually extends its reach throughout the world, and the Gun is a brutal regime that takes control of its agents through its ability to speak directly to their minds and coerce them to obey the Gun's will. The Red Republic is a force that used to battle both the Line and the Gun but which now only seems to exist in the legends of the past.

A former general in the Red Republic may hold in his mind, information about a secret weapon that's the only hope of stopping both the Line and the Gun. He resides in a mental hospital on the outskirts of the west and has been forgotten by the rest of the world. His mind was destroyed by weapons of the Line many years ago. But now both the Line and the Gun have become aware of his existence and the threat he poses to them.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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