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"In The Half-Made World" Felix Gilman takes us on a journey to a different US, a Wild-West that is ruled by different sorts of "demons". There are two main opposing forces called "the Line" and "the Gun". The Line is industrial while the Gun is weaponised. Both forces enslave their human followers - followers who are willing to do anything to enjoy what they see as beneficial changes to their lives.

Both the Line and the Gun have as their purpose to destroy their opponents, paint the West in their image and enslave humans. Servants of the Line are many and found around the industrial sites that flourish. Servants of the Guns are men and woman who want the power that comes with demonic influence.

Both forces discover that a certain "General" is to be found at the House Dolorous, a hospital. They want to find a weapon that this General supposedly knew about. Both send their agents to kidnap the General.

In the meantime Liv Alverhuysen travels west to the hospital. There, she is supposed to help heal the minds of patients. One of these patients turns out to be the General (bet you're surprised now). The parties are bound to meet and fates decided.

I really liked the underlying sense of humor in this novel. "The Half-made World" is well written, and the text flows from one line to the next. I admire that in an author. There is plenty of tension, a good climax and a fitting conclusion
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on 22 August 2012
The ideas that comprise this story would have worked wonderfully as a novella. However for me the characters and plot are stretched too thin, which makes it all the worse when you enter the closing chapters and realise that there will be no satisfactory conclusion to the story. I feel that if the intention is to make a book part of a series this should be made clear; had I realised this I would have probably given up after the first few chapters. The world is sketched rather than fully-formed and ends up feeling like wandering through the set of a Western with nothing behind any of the facades. Disappointing.
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on 3 January 2016
The novel starts really well and for the first half it sets a real pace in introducing the world and the key participants.

Then, from the half way point it all starts meandering to the end, a rather inconclusive end.

A lot to like though.
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on 15 October 2011
Forgive the title - but I guess everyone that is into SteamPunk and the Wierd West genre in particular felt that Wild Wild West put this genre back 50 years. Well 'The Half Made World' sets this mode of science fiction firmly back on track! It is grittily written and for once not naive or sloppily imagined. I particularly like the way that the reader can feel like they could align themselves with any one of the factions represented in the story - all being degrees of bad and in a way very true and representative to real life (good guys are for romantics). This is a book you really feel like you don't want to get to the end of as the author has not written another and it will definately leave you feel like you want more!
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on 18 September 2012
Truly original works of fantasy are not easy to find, but Gilman's The Half-Made World is a happy example of this rare breed. It's better not to describe the world in too much detail here, because one of the book's charms is that the reader has the opportunity to learn more and more of the world and its inhabitants as the the story progresses.

In a continent where humans are mostly tools of other powers, two factions of these powers are engaged in a life-or-death struggle via their human proxies. The world is still unfinished, only half-made. At the edge of the made world is a half-forgotten hospital which houses the hopeless casualties of the all-consuming war. But one of the patients, an old madman, is more important than he seems: a general of a dead republic that once offered a hope of brighter future for the humankind caught between the warring factions. His fractured mind might hold knowledge about a war-winning weapon to end this endless war. And then there are the continent's original people, driven to the margins by the relatively late-coming humans. Ignored by everybody, they are not entirely powerless to influence the outcome.

Two of the book's characters are agents of the warring factions, one reluctant, the other utterly devoted. They are out to get the old man and his secret. The third character is a visitor from an older, peaceful continent who tries to heal the old man's mind without knowing what it might contain.

The world Gilman has created is in a way familiar but in many respects utterly alien. The mindsets and workings of the opposing factions are probably the best this book has to offer and an excellent example of the sense of wonder Gilman can conjure. One might see parallels to our history in this world, but not enough to make the story an allegory. Gilman knows how to drive the story forward and to keep the world delivering new wonders to the reader. This is a truly original piece of fantasy literature and deserves to be better known. I'm eagerly waiting for the sequel.
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on 30 January 2011
It is hard to read this book without trying to compare it to others, the main reason being that the world denies classification. It is a little bit of Chronicles of Amber, a little bit of Discworld, a little bit of Thomas Covenant and a little bit of 1984. Underlying all this is the template of the Old West, of cowboys, indians and the industrialist machine. It is all of this, yet something of its own. The praise from such authors as Ursula Le Guin, Stephen Donaldson and Brandon Sanderson is well-deserved.

What are its strongest points? The author does not dwell on too much exposition and the world, half-made as it is, comes to the reader easily. There are inevitable gaps in this knowledge, but there are some handy little tricks that Gilman uses to fill us in when needed. He does not clutter the reader with maps or detailed descriptions. In this novel, less is more.

The characters are very nicely developed, each with their own intricate life histories. Lowry, my personal favourite, the embodiment of duty and cold ambition. Qualities which, in this book, make him flawed among the soldiers of the Line. Creedmoor, the unwilling Faust-like character that has some interesting talents. The Doctor, a damaged individual looking to escape the cold comforts and numbness of her old life by seeking out a new one in the unknown West. The General, a man who was a military genius and philisophical idealist, is examined through those he has inspired and his legacy.

The story is well-paced and gripping. The plot is unpredictable and takes interesting turns. Gilman uses some nice turns of phrase at times, though the prose is easily digestible.

What are its weak points? The book ends at a mid-point in the plot. Where Gilman is going is uncertain, as the state of play has changed considerably by the end of the book. Gilman is also somewhat unorthodox when it comes to the fates of his characters. When you have read the book, you will know what I mean. Perhaps some of this will be resolved in the next book. Not necessarily a bad thing, but some readers may not like it.

Overall - Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 December 2010
The Red Valley Republic is fighting a losing battle against the Line. The fate of the world depends upon the General. He has learned an important secret from the First Folk. A secret. A weapon. The ultimate weapon. Should the General succeed, the war will be over but if he fails the Republic (and all hope) will die with him.

Unfortunately, just as the General is about to realize his finest hour, the Line makes a surprise attack. Although the General is not killed, the secret is locked inside his head. Completely mad, the General's only words are Ramblings about old fairy tales.
Psychologist Liv Alverhuysen is given the General as a charge. Originally from the civilized East, the good doctor has no clue what she's signed up for. Everyone wants what's inside the General's head for themselves. While in the hospital, an ancient spirit protects the General from the Line. However, an Agent of the Gun kidnaps both the General and the Doctor. His master also wants the secret.

The Half-Made World is an action packed thrill of a ride. Smart, thought provoking, and well written. The very first scene with the General, intrigued me. By the time we meet Creedmoor, the agent of the gun, I was fully immersed.
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