Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Rise of Ransom City

by Felix Gilman
370 pgs

The Rise of Ransom City is "sort of" a sequel to Gilman's The Half-Made World, a book about just that, a world still in the process of coming into being, or focus. As Gilman returns to that half-made world, he does so from the perspective of Harry Ransom, a naïve and conceited inventor who sets out into the world at a young age in pursuit of fame and glory. He's so convinced that he'll obtain both that he writes pieces of his autobiography as he goes, describing the cities he passes through, the people he meets, and the experiences he has, and he mails them randomly out into the world, sure that eventually the world will want to gather these pieces together to chronicle the life of the man that changed their world.

As he begins to tell his story, Harry addresses us, his readers, and speaks to us of the great battle of Jasper City, which we are obviously very familiar with, as it forever changed the landscape of our world and brought about the end of the war between the Line and the Gun. He tells us that things were much different before that battle, and that he is almost single-handedly responsible for its outcome. Now that he's piqued our curiosity, he goes back and tells us of the circumstances of his life, and his brilliant invention that ended the war.

Gilman's storytelling method was a big part of this book's appeal for me. He makes you believe that you're reading about events that shaped the history of a world that is both similar to our own wild west era as well as fantastically different. It's a world that possesses a spirit, a spirit that took hold of the technology brought about by man, and used it for it's own design. It's a world where the spirits of the old gods now inhabit steam locomotives, battling each other and using mankind as their soldiers.

I've enjoyed every one of the books by Gilman that I've read. They're unique, genre-bending, and impossible to adequately describe, but I wouldn't want them to be any other way.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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