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The Half-Made World [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Felix Gilman

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12. Oktober 2010

A fantastical reimagining of the American West which 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.

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“Vivid and accurate prose, a gripping, imaginative story, a terrifically inventive setting, a hard-bitten, indestructible hero, and an intelligent, fully adult heroine---we haven’t had a science-fiction novel like this for a long time.” ---Ursula K. Le Guin, National Book Award--winning author of The Farthest Shore and The Left Hand of Darkness

"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, New York Times bestselling author of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant  

“A much-needed breath of fresh air in dystopian fiction. Utterly compelling. Trembling with invention and adventure. Reads as if it’s the love child of McCarthy’s The Road and Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Highly recommended!” ---Eric Van Lustbader, New York Times bestselling author

“Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World takes the brutality of the Wild West and twists it into an epic fantasy that left me staggered. It brings the sense of wonder back to fantasy by creating a complex and visceral world unlike anything I’ve read. This is a stunning novel.” ---Mary Robinette Kowal

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

FELIX GILMAN has been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award and the Crawford Award for best new writer and the Locus Award for best first novel. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Thunderer and Gears of the City. He lives with his wife in New York City.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen Felix Gilman a master of the new weird fantastic 12. Oktober 2010
Von Liviu C. Suciu - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"The Half-Made World" is quite a strange book. It is dark and dense, but a page turner nonetheless that would not let go once I entered its flow. The known-world is divided between the settled East and the expanding into uncreation West. Some centuries ago the seemingly impassable mountains that formed the border of the settled world opened and people started settling the lands beyond and in the process fixing them into reality. However un-natural or supernatural things sprung out here and there, most notably spirits, demons and "magical" engines, while the local people of the "uncreation" who may be immortal and have magic are pushed farther and farther away, with the remnants enslaved.

The settled parts of the West consist of many independent lands but all live under the ever expanding shadow of the Line, a highly regimented industrial and well armed civilization of millions, led by the magical engines of above, currently 38 in number, that span tens of thousands of miles of tracks; opposing them are the Demon Guns and their agents, who are few - some tens, maybe a hundred - in number, but who have extreme powers of endurance and who foment uprisings, rebellions and generally wreak havoc wherever they think the Line is vulnerable.

Some decades ago a "free republic" has risen, led by a General who was rumored to have had a pact with one of the original natives and knew how to use their magic; nevertheless after 40 years of flourishing, the Republic was finally crushed by the Line and after 10 more years of underground resistance, the General was rendered mad by a Line "noise bomb" in his last stand and he was presumed dead.

However it is rumored that he is now a patient at an asylum on the farthest borders of the West with the uncreation, asylum that is neutral and under the protection of a powerful spirit; a letter surfaces hinting of an "ultimate" weapon the General may have been given by his native allies and both the Line and the Gun want it. Effective but unruly Gun Agent Credmoor is sent to infiltrate the asylum, while a thousands strong - with flying machines, poison gas, bombs, machine guns and the like - Line force is also dispatched to deal with the Asylum and their Spirit, with sub-invigilator, grade 3 Lowry as one of their officers.

Liv Alverhuysen, a psychiatrist from the far away settled cities of the East and with a traumatic past of her own, receives an invitation to join the Asylum staff - invitation actually addressed to her much older and recently deceased husband, but she figures out she would be gladly received too. She engages on the long and harrowing journey with her servant/protege, who is a relatively young man of her age, very strong physically but mentally challenged so to speak. And so it starts, with the three main characters above converging on the Asylum and then of course lots and lots of things happen.

What are the strengths of "The Half-Made World"? In the above overview I mentioned two - most notably its exquisite and quite original world-building which makes reading the book worthwhile on its own. And of course, the energy of the narrative flow that does not let go of the reader. The combination of story, action and descriptions are balanced perfectly and the continual switching between the three main threads is smooth.

There is also an interesting dynamic represented by the characters: Lowry is a devoted Line official, one in literally millions who has really never known life outside his mechanistic and grimy civilization, though he has participated as operative on Gun Agent hunts. So he is less of an individual and more of a cog in the machine.

Credmoor is the supreme individualist bonded with a Demon Gun whom he more or less has to obey in return for the immense physical benefits, but the Guns are quite anarchic too with essentially one purpose - wreak havoc to avoid the Line crushing them for ever... So Credmoor is both the "lone gunman" of the Wild West mythology, but also its outlaw.

Liv represents settled civilization and culture; sure she has her own traumas and the decision to go into the unknown shows she wants to "escape" the confines of her society, but overall she is the one clearly humane character of the novel. So we have the machine, the rebel and the explorer , though they are all quite memorable characters on their own too.

While "The Half-Made World" immerses the reader into its world, the author's superb writing style exerts its magic and the novel offers quite a lot, the big picture remains a bit murky to the end. There are tantalizing hints sure, the storyline and the fate of the main characters are more than enough reasons to strongly enjoy the book, but I was left wondering about the series' destination and even if there is such.

All in all "The Half-Made World" (A++) is a powerful novel that confirms Felix Gilman as a master of the new weird fantastic.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen strikingly original, fascinating opening to a new world 27. Oktober 2010
Von B. Capossere - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman, is a strikingly original book that, though it had its flaws, is a fascinating opening to a new world and characters and one I'll look eagerly forward to rejoining when the sequel (and this books pretty much mandates a sequel) arrives.
The Half-Made World is set in an alternate America, but Gilman has gone well past the add-a-few-inventions-that-weren't-there-and-change-the-Civil-War kind of alternate world-building here. We have an old, established East (which we don't see much of) and an uncharted, still "uncreated" far West inhabited only by the immortal Hill People, who have either been driven from their eastern lands or enslaved. Between the East and the uncreated world lies the West, where nearly all the action takes place. Two rival groups--The Line and The Gun--have been warring via their human agents over the West's vast landscape for decades, though the Line has been slowly, inexorably winning. Embodied by its Engine spirits, the Line industrializes where it wins--laying track, building hulking, smoke-belching factories, employing relatively modern technologies, and using its "Linesman" as cogs in the machine. The Gun, embodied by its own spirits which inhabit either the "Lodge" or their agents' weapons, has been fighting a losing battle against the Line. Their agents are far fewer in number and lack technology, but the Gun spirits can imbue them with super-human abilities and healing. A third rival--the Red Republic--rose 40 years ago under the leadership of its General and temporarily carved out a society free of both, but it was eventually smashed and the General killed.

Or so everyone thought until he was recently found insane but alive in a madhouse on the edge of the West. More disconcerting to the spirits than his mere existence, though, is their discovery that buried in his head just might be a weapon that could destroy both the Line and the Gun. It becomes a race then as to which group will capture the General first. The Line sends out Linesman Lowry with a horde of other Linesmen and lots of mechanical support (airships, cannon, etc.), while the Gun turns to one of its oldest, most-experienced, and seemingly most reluctant agents--John Creedmoor. Caught in between these two is Liv Alverhuysen, a psychiatrist from the East who has just accepted an invitation to work at the madhouse, unaware of the all-important patient she will find there.
The premise of The Half-Made World is utterly fascinating and as I mentioned, one of the most original underpinnings to a story I've seen. I loved how Gilman took the archetypes of our frontier mythology--the expansion of the railroads and the gun-toting violent loner--and gave them literal life as magical spirits fighting for dominion. By their very nature, we see much more of the Engines and their working and these are some of the most evocative passages in the book. The Guns are no less fascinating, but as they build nothing and communicate telepathically from their mysterious Lodge, we never actually see them or their effects visually. The native Hill People, one of whom was an advisor to the General years ago and revealed the weapon to him, are also mostly off the page, but we see enough to more than pique our interest and I assume and hope we'll see more in the next book.

Creedmoor is a great creation, torn between his love of the power and independence the Gun gives him and his desire to be free of his masters. This tension only comes under more stress and he takes on this mission. Lowry lacks that sort of tension; he is eager to please his Engine masters, but he is such a creepy, obsessed, ambitious little creature that you can't take your eyes off of him. Liv is less successful as a character, mostly because she is much more passive for most of the book, more reacting than acting. Her passivity, though, has its causes, and so this isn't so much a character flaw as a product of plot. It is a welcome change, however, when she breaks free of it.

The Half-Made World does bog down slightly about two-thirds of the way through, but not for long. Beyond that, my only complaint is that I didn't delve as much into various aspects of Gilman's world as I would have liked to: the Engines, the Gun spirits, the Hill People. That I wanted more, despite this being nearly 500 pages, isn't so much criticism than as praise. And is the reason why, as I said earlier, I'm looking eagerly forward to the next book. Highly recommended.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Weird, Wild, & Well Nuanced 8. November 2010
Von The Mad Hatter - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
There are some books you enter knowing exactly what to expect, which can be good. Sort of like sitting in your favorite chair. Nice and cozy. Than there are those books that immediately jar you into realizing how different they are, which are few and far between. The Half-Made World is decidedly in the second camp evoking a sense of isolation while exploring a world so big that its western regions are still forming into existence yet has a history of thousands of years.

From the very first chapter the tone is set for a vivid adventure involving a general of a dead republic lost in his own mind, a psychologist out of her depth, and a man who has done evil things for decades. The Half-Made World is filled with magical realism, magical people, and the warring factions of possessed guns and thinking engines of destruction both on control. There are even religious groups such as the Smilers who just want you to be happy. The Half-Made World takes you on a journey so strange and wondrous that you will be left spellbound by the world in a literary surreal dream of another plane.

The story is being marketed as a Steam Western, but it is all New Weird in a Western-like setting. Images of the Australian outback often came to mind in this story of Progress versus Chaos; Anarchy versus Order; and Technology versus Faith. There is a large machine/industrial element, but done so it appears to be more magic. This is not a light read by any stretch. It is challenging, but worth it as the tapestry Gilman created comes together. The Half-Made World left me feeling a bit grimy. Like the dirt from the roads the characters trod upon infects your own skin and under your nails.

The Half-Made World is a very complex story. The characters aren't good or bad and it would be a stretch to call them grey. They just are what they are making their way through life. The dialogue between the two main characters is perfect and each have distinctive voices that make them. Each goes through so much as their journey progresses and many have untold layers, which are slowly peeled back as Gilman gives us a peek into their soul. Gilman drips out the world-building at a languid pace never giving you more than needed to understand the scenery and current happenings. At times I found this frustrating, but as everything progressed I admired this approach instead of long descriptive paragraphs that would have only slowed down the pace of action. There is a section that tends to drag on too long, but once through things pickup dramatically.

The Half-Made World will stay with you long after you close the cover. The Half-Made World has more in common with other New Weird books such as Nights of Villjamur or The Last Page than most of the Steampunk that is out there. But if you like your books weird, wild, well nuanced The Half-Made World will fill you as full as a good hearty chicken soup on a cold day. It is nothing like you've seen before filled with original elements that will leave your mind gasping. Be sure to go back and read the prologue again after a hundred pages or so as it will make a lot more sense.

The Half-Made World is the first in a duology. The story stands decently on its own so I don't hesitate recommending to check it out sooner than later, but a lot of work has been laid for plenty more. Many things are left vague such as the origin of the different factions, which I hope are revealed in the future.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Reading with Tequila 22. Oktober 2010
Von Jennifer Sicurella - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
What stood out in The Half-Made World for me was the characters. Liv was an amazingly deep character. At face value, she's a psychologist interested in studying the minds of the mentally ill, which is interesting in itself. What makes her all the more fascinating is her backstory - everything that lead up to her treating patients. Creedmoor's non-static personality, the way he volleys back and forth trying to find himself all his life makes him interesting as well. His constant struggle against his master shows he's more than just a bad guy living a bad guys life. Lowry, as part of The Line, has a very different background than these other two main characters. His rigid upbringing and overall personality make him difficult to like, but even he seems to struggle with what is expected of him. By far, the most enigmatic character is the General, who's mind has been lost, but still holds the key to victory.

The world itself was a little confusing. I found it hard to grasp exactly how the world was half-made. It seems like the unpopulated west at first glance. As things went on, it becomes clear that part of the world is shifting, changing, trying to decide what it is going to become. This is kind of a foreign concept that I couldn't really picture. Added to that, hillfolk - faerie type people, that have the ability to come back from the dead. This addition seemed out of place, but when taking into account The Line with it's immortal engines and The Gun with it's possessed weapons, the idea of magical hillfolk don't seem too far flung.

The overall plot was interesting, but the focus on the seemingly never ending war was lost on me. War, in any form, even with fantasy aspects, is in no way my thing. The first half of the book, with Liv's departure from civilization, Creedmoor's rejoining the fold of The Gun and Lowry's rise in position with The Line, was gripping. Once the chase was on, with everyone trying to get the information locked in the general's mind, I started loosing interest. Liv, Creedmoor and the General stumbling around the undeveloped portion of the world for a huge amount of time was both confusing and dull. There was a noticeable lack of resolution at the end of the book that made me wonder what the point of the novel really was.

The Half-Made World is a long, very involved book and completely unlike anything I've ever read before. It started out fantastic, but lost me about halfway through. This book may be better for those who either have an interest in the war background of the story or those who can better imagine the half-made portion of the world than I could.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Some REALLY interesting concepts . . . . That go nowhere. Slowly. 16. Oktober 2013
Von The Gootch! - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I was excited to read this book after reading all the glowing reviews. At first it was interesting and had some big/new ideas in it the made me feel like i was reading Dune for the first time. Then it went on and on and on. And on some more. No character arks. No revelations. No insights to the heart of man or machine. No ending in which anything was accomplished unless it be to set up the next book (which i wasn't interested in by half way through this one). Reading the last third of this book was a CHORE. Has some good prose, but not enough to cover the lack of character ark, painful pacing and non ending. Made me wonder how much new fiction the lauded reviewers actually read each year to give this book the reviews they did. I get the feeling that allot of writers have great ideas for a story that would ideally be told in one or maybe two great books but that they stretch it waaayyy out to make it a trilogy or more. That may make for more money but rarely makes for better storytelling. As far as this reader is concerned, in this instance, it makes for neither as i have no intention of purchasing the next book in this series.
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