In no particular order:
His first books - Thunderer and Gears of the City - Gilman bit off a lot. Both of these were highly ambitious books that solidified his role in the steampunk world. You had the gaslight technology of Welles’ world, the similarities of Verne’s Paris, and a fascinating story of a musician seeking a god in a city of gods. Ambitious, no doubt. And yet, he pulled the task off without batting an eyelash.
In “The Half-Made World” (released today from Tor), Mr. Gilman has found his footing. This is a fascinating read, that scrapes the scope that his first two books had and hones in on character. . . ” the characters are rich and vibrant and, as mentioned above, have a pathos that hooks us.
Final Verdict? A worthy investment of your book allowance. Imagine a book that reads like a season of the Wild, Wild West as if the writing panel had been Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and H.G. Welles, and you can get an idea of what you’re in store for. A nice union of bizarro and steampunk, and perhaps one of the best books I’ve read all year.
. . .a powerful novel that confirms Felix Gilman as a master of the new weird fantastic.
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.
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.
Hopefully! Unless I get hit by a bus. You never know, do you?
Felix Gilman’s new book, The Half-Made World is out. I liked it very much indeed (but then, I’ve liked everything that Gilman has written since stumbling across Thunderer). It’s a steampunk-inflected Western, with a fair dollop of HP Lovecraft thrown in (the malignant ‘Engines,’ whose physical appearance is mostly left undescribed, are genuinely unsettling).
The writing is lovely, and the main character a genuinely complex and interesting woman. . .
This is a really good book. If you like books like this at all, you should buy it.
Which reminds me that I should get round to buying Henry’s blogmate Prof. John Quiggin’s Zombie Economics.
The premise of The Half-Made World is utterly fascinating and is one of the most original underpinnings I’ve seen. I loved how Gilman took the archetypes of America’s frontier mythology — the expansion of the railroads and the gun-toting violent loner — and gave them life as magical spirits fighting for dominion. . .
That I wanted more, despite this being nearly 500 pages, isn’t so much criticism as it is praise. And it is the reason why I’m eager to read the next book. Highly recommended.
(Edited and reposted because I screwed up formatting).