Posted by The Steampunk Librarian 15th October 2010
Once upon a time…
Once upon a time, the world was half-made. Out in the west, the sea and sky and land crashed together and then pulled apart in a constant state of flux. Plants and animals existed without names. The Hillfolk lived among the plants and animals, and they died and then rose up again, immortal.
The Half-Made Worldby Felix Gilman is the story of this western land, and the story of much more than that. It is also the story of an ongoing war. On one side there is the Line, spirits incarnated in huge engines constantly expanding and encroaching upon the land, imposing order and constancy wherever it goes. On the other side there is the Gun, spirits which incarnate in weapons and the humans who carry them, instigating them toward acts of chaos and violence against the relentless Line in exchange for superhuman reflexes and agility.
Against this backdrop, Gilman places an assortment of characters to tell his tale: an agent of the Line, an agent of the Gun, a brittle but resilient mental health doctor, and an old general who once commanded a republic independent of both Line and Gun — a general whose mind has been destroyed by war, but may still hold a solution to the never-ending conflict which is slowly but inexorably moving westward.
The Half-Made Worldreads like a sprawling epic, like the endless West in its pages, and yet it's a surprisingly fast read. Gilman's story can be read on any of several levels — as commentary on industrialization vs. revolution, as a rollicking Western with overtones of steampunk and magical realism, or as one of the fairy tales the broken General tells. It's probably no accident that the book, with its themes of explorations, pioneering spirit, and exploitation of land and its native inhabitants, was published on Columbus Day, The Half-Made World is a fascinating story, with characters and a story which stays in the brain long after the last page is turned.
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We have one copy of The Half-Made World to give away! Anyone who comments on the post will be entered in the giveaway, provided you answer this question:
You are to go out into the untamed, unnamed West; you are not sure what you'll find out there, or when you'll be back. You can take only one item with you on your travels. What is it? And why?
The drawing will be held the evening of Friday, October 22. We may announce the winner via video like we did the last time, with puppets and everything, if that is acceptable to the audience! Thanks for reading and participating!