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Publisher's Summary

Here is a fantastical reimagining of the American West that draws its influence from steampunk, the American Western tradition, and magical realism.
The world is only half made. What exists has been carved out amidst a war between two rival factions: the Line, paving the world with industry and claiming its residents as slaves; and the Gun, a cult of terror and violence that cripples the population with fear. The only hope at stopping them has seemingly disappeared - the Red Republic that once battled the Gun and the Line, and almost won. Now they're just a myth, a bedtime story parents tell their children, of hope.
To the west lies a vast, uncharted world, inhabited only by the legends of the immortal and powerful Hill People, who live at one with the earth and its elements. Liv Alverhyusen, a doctor of the new science of psychology, travels to the edge of the made world to a spiritually protected mental institution in order to study the minds of those broken by the Gun and the Line. In its rooms lies an old general of the Red Republic, a man whose shattered mind just may hold the secret to stopping the Gun and the Line. And either side will do anything to understand how.
©2010 Felix Gilman (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Vivid and accurate prose, a gripping, imaginative story, a terrifically inventive setting, a hard-bitten, indestructible hero, and an intelligent, fully adult heroine." (Ursula K. Le Guin)
"The Half-Made World is refreshingly unlike any other novel I've read. Felix Gilman writes like a modern-day Dickens drunk on rich invention and insane war." (Stephen R. Donaldson)


Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2010: Readers' Choice (SF Site)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By John Baker on 11-19-10

best of the subgenre

I gave this 4 stars because it's not quite in the same league as the best contemporary SciFi like "The Windup Girl" or fantastical re-imaginings of the West like Dan Simmons "Black Hills". In the class with other Steampunk books it is a five star. But, if you like all of your stories to be very clear and wrapped neatly you might not like it as much. It's not as straightforward as the typical genre novel. This is the kind of book with an emphasis on allegory and theme with a literary lilt to the language.

I am also tempted to subtract a point for the ending. My impression is that the author is planning a sequel but was to busy literrary pretense to make the convention clear so it seems to be a bit abrupt. But it kept me engrossed enough and was written well enough to let that sloppiness pass.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful


By Plato Wang on 02-03-11

Great characters, great world - best narrator.

Stick with this book for a richly nuanced world with compelling characters framed against a fantastic, alternate world. When the characters started frustrating me because of who they were, I realized how deeply under my skin the author had gotten. Bravo! Also, have to say that Tamara Marston is an outstanding narrator. Although I've only listened to a couple of dozen audiobooks so far, she really stands out for her outstanding ability to differentiate between voices without feeling forced or artificial. Can't wait to hear her other work and hope they bring her back for the sequel.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By JL on 04-04-11

An atmospheric, fascinating page turner.

I bought this book on a whim really thinking it looked like an interesting steam-punk novel. In fact, even though it does share a lot of steam-punk ideas; they are mostly limited to it's setting (the American wild west, and it's Victorian era setting) it's actually much more unique than that. Technology in this book is actually almost all entirely magical/spiritual (and unexplained) in origin, with the humans of the story seemingly caught up in a war between two opposing species of spirits?, demons?, gods?.. who take the form of The Line & The Gun.

Explaining here what forms these two sides take would take away from some of the pleasure of the book so I won't, however both sides have a unique way of controlling the people they employ/enslave. While The Gun essentially turn the small group of men and woman who work for them into supermen, The Line takes another tack, enslaving many thousands of men, turning them into insignificant cogs in their machines.

Caught in between these two opposing forces is the character of Liv Alverhuysen who possesses (or so The Line & The Gun believe) knowledge that will turn the war into their favour. Each side sends their people after Liv, and it's this chase that forms the bulk of the novels narrative.

The book is both dense in terms of its world building and atmosphere but at the same time is a total page turner. By the end of the book I couldn't wait to continue the story with these characters in future stories.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Erin on 07-26-16

Definitely recommend!

Wonderful narration and such an engaging and unusual storyline! The characters were really well drawn, with well developed inner worlds, plus the world building was amazing - completely convincing despite its fantastical conceits. Really impressed with this one!

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