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The Revolutions

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  849 ratings  ·  151 reviews
Following in the fine tradition of Felix Gilman’s spectacularly reviewed Half Made World comes a sweeping tale of Victorian science fiction, space exploration, and planetary romance.

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw—a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction—is at work in British Museum Reading Room. The storm wreaks unprecedented damage t
Hardcover, 413 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Tor Books (first published February 20th 2014)
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Average rating 3.24  · 
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Fantasy Review Barn

Bit of a disappointment here. Shame because Gilman is an author I consider must read at this point, but thus I am shown the folly of high expectations.

The Half-Made World is one of my favorite reads of the last few years and I enjoyed its sequel almost as much. Thunderer is a book I need to read again; it was one of the first books to show me that fantasy can be just as challenging as other genres. Gilman’s works have a certain style that runs true through each of his works: a
Dave Morris
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Read The Anubis Gates before you read this book; it will give you an idea of the standard against which it should be measured. For the avoidance of doubt, The Revolutions does not come out well from that comparison.

What I liked: a spirited opening with a couple of lead characters I initially warmed to; a vivid description of a once-in-a-lifetime storm over London; the author’s occasional startling and delightful imagery; the sense of being trapped in the nightmare of work on the mysterious Engin
Cameron Kunzelman
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's very good. ...more
Fantasy Literature
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bill: At not quite the halfway point in Felix Gilman’s The Revolutions, the main character — Arthur Shaw — reacts to a particular text he is reading:

It was a hodge-podge of Masonry, Greek myth, Egyptian fantasy, debased Christianity, third-hand Hinduism, and modern and ancient astronomy, promiscuously and nonsensically mixed . . . The Book was riddled throughout with paradox and absurdity and contradiction . . . But after a week or two of study, Arthur began to enjoy it.

And it is at this point w
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Mon avis en Français

My English review

Another novel set during the Victorian period and I admit that I was intrigued right away, especially with the mix of the occult. This is something that is always interesting and I was curious to find out what the author would present us.

We discover at the very beginning of the novel, a young writer, Arthur, working at the British Museum during the passage of a terrible storm. Yes, this event had serious consequences for London and our hero finds himself with
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it
This one is sort of a tough book to review. It wasn't what I expected, by far. As far as the 4th planet technically. The first quarter of the book really drew me in, it seems like another one of the Victorian tales of occult, séances and all that, when the society was so obsessed with afterlife and ghosts. Then it veered off into a completely different and unexpected directions and stayed there. Genre wise it's a mishmash, something of an adventure, something of scifi, something of fantasy. Not ...more
Tyson Mueller
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The novel follows a young couple who gets involved with occultists and magicians in Victorian London. The magic system in the novel feels unique and does a good job of reflecting the thinking of that time. Two parts that stood out to me in particular were the occultist computer that combines an early logic engine with human intuition and the portrayal of the planets, that combines both early astronomical science with ideas about planes or spheres of power.
The Review:

“A flawed but fun high concept steampunk novel that is pretty entertaining to read.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

Following in the fine tradition of Felix Gilman’s spectacularly reviewed Half Made World comes a sweeping tale of Victorian science fiction, space exploration, and planetary romance.

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw—a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction—is at work in British Museum Re
Obscurity Knocks
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This has its flaws, it seems to not know what it wants to be/is trying to be at least two different books at the same time, but in spite of all that it won me over. I like a bittersweet ending too, which helps.
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi, fiction
I'm not even sure how this book ended up on my radar, but I seem to remember reading that it was in the "alternate history" genre (it is and it isn't) and I think I had just finished reading Ian Tregillis' The Mechanical which I loved. I had gotten it on hold from Cleveland Public Library, had to return it unread and then received it on hold again. And I don't know if it was worth the wait.

I think the issue with this book is that it doesn't know what it wants to be. Does it want to be an altern
Linda Robinson
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Victorian England! The cover scared me with the boofed skirt, but this is the fun Victorian England with the table tappers and screers and the aristocracy dabbling in seances and hallucinating for fun and profit behind parlor doors. The characters are rich and wacky, which is how I prefer rich Victorians. Strong leads, strong secondary characters, including our friends from beyond. There is a lot to the similarities in cultures that is delightful, and Gilman writes with no tricky prose to inform ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I bought The Revolutions on the first day and read it immediately, and I finished it quickly and thought that it had many of the elements that made me love the Half-Made World books so much. The book is witty with the capacity to go dark or wondrous as necessary, and while 1890s London is not a new setting Gilman's mixture of Babbage, Percival Lowell, Victorian occultism and Shackletonian adventure felt like an original combination to me.

I would have liked to spend more time among the occult fa
Molly Ison
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm particularly sad that this book didn't come together for me. I preordered it, something I rarely do. There wasn't anything explicitly wrong but suspension of disbelief took a long time, and I was over halfway before I was really invested in the plot.

Gilman is amazing as a tour guide through weird and chaotic cities, but the conventional-feeling long setup was too constrained and cliche. I enjoyed the second half more, but felt it was reminiscent of a simplified version of the superior Gears
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Turns out that Victorian Era occultism and meeting aliens on Mars really don't belong in the same book. Shocker. I did want to like this...the writing is quite good, there's plenty of humor, and it's definitely a unique twist on Steampunk. But there were HUGE swaths of the story that really dragged, and the author pretty much lost me completely once the characters ended up on Mars. The premise is interesting, but it turned out to be a tad overambitious, as the story waffles between mind-numbingl ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Kinda disappointed to find out Gilman's newest is set in full on Victorian London (at least to start with) instead of a secondary world like his other books, especially since his
Half-Made World books are maybe my favorite seting since Mieville's Bas-Lag books. But he's one of my few buy-in-hardback authors, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

July 25. Finished. All disappointment erased.
Pretty refreshing to read a book set largely in Victorian England that finds ways to have the awesome
The good parts were very good, the bad parts mostly tedious.

I loved the beginning, Gilman has a great way of writing about weirdness where he really manages to make you feel like you 'get' what's happening without him ever really spelling it out. The conspiracies, the magic and secret societies are all great.

When the story moves to mars it starts dragging, and getting through to it feels like a chore. After the dragging middle the end felt a bit abrupt. While I appreciate his kind of ending wher
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
It didn't quite call to me. The book is set in a somewhat steampunk alternate reality London, where computer-guided seances can send people to other planets. The story set against that backdrop didn't quite do it for me. It's overlong and over-tragic and not quite clear that the tragedy was about anything compelling or important. ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A peculiar but surprisingly enjoyable and engaging book that reminded me a little of CS Lewis's Cosmic Trilogy crossed with Pullman's Sally Lockhart books, with a plentiful dose of philosophy and mystery and weirdness. I should resent it for keeping me up until half past one the night before I have to make a trip to Cambridge for an appointment, but somehow I don't. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 24, 2014 marked it as did-not-finish
Started this for a book speed date and wasn't gripped 50 pages in. Will donate to local literacy sale. This is probably good for people who love steampunk England with a little bit of the occult and ... Mars? Just not for me. ...more
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable sci-fi with some lovely twists. Just as I thought he went off the rails, the book pulls together for a convincing end.
Irmak Ertuna-howison
May 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
nice premise but really dull execution, could not even finish (and i never ever leave a book unfinished).
Brittany (Lady Red)
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I keep trying to reread this, and honestly it’s just not clicking for me. It’s too something. HG Wells like, maybe. I can’t pinpoint why I don’t like it.
The Starry Library
'The Revolutions' by Felix Gilman is an unusual book that features a multi-layered story revolving around ruthless occultists in late 19th century London, whose thirst for communion with the planets sets them off on a dangerous and marvelous journey.

A struggling journalist named Arthur Shaw meets and falls in love with Josephine Bradman during a terrible London storm (which may be due to weather magic) who works as a stenographer for a mysterious occult society. Their relationship has an essence
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2018
I picked this up because I enjoyed The Half-Made World - this is not great.

The first half was a good set-up to the mystery: Arthur is penniless; he meets Josephine and they fall in love; he finds a job that relies on his unknown psychic skills and pays well (although he does not know that he's relying on said psychic skills); Josephine falls into another psychic circle but (view spoiler)
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I thought that I would really enjoy this foray into Victorian spiritualism and the occult, but it didn't quite click. From the start, I was a bit removed and confused, and really a big storm should lure me in. But I stuck with it and then found the "click" and was in. Only then to just want to be done with it. A unique mix of the Spiritualism movement with seances that go into other realms. Interesting was the "machine" that humans were doing continual tabulations on in secret. No one knows exac ...more
This was a frustrating read. I mean, look: it's Victorian occult sci-fi. I should have loved this book no matter what. But... I don't know. I think THE REVOLUTIONS is intended for people who are more interested in atmosphere and plot over theme and character, since I can't say I'm clear on what the point of all of this was (like, in an over-arching, eighth grade book report sense), and the characters and their relationships are all ultimately pretty shallow. There are a lot of cool and creative ...more
W.L. Bolm
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this; in some ways, it reminded me of Cat Valente's Radiance, though it was more occult-focused and less sci-fi-focused. I thought that Gilman did a great job in constructing period voice and characters. I liked the conflict between the occultists and their scuffles. I also really enjoyed the mixture of occult and space exploration and how things were left a bit open ended at the end.

All in all, this was a fun book to read.
Topher Payne
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Awesome Book! I love books that blend science and magic. Making this book even more interesting is that it is set in late 19th Century England -- which comes with its own unique take on science and magic. This was a great read, reminded me a lot of Ray Bradbury. Fantastic Victorian Science-Fiction, incredible characters, beautiful storytelling, and a great mystery build to the climax. Check it out!
Nancy Groves
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
An imaginative fantasy/steampunk novel about spiritualists and occult societies in London, with a trip to Mars in the final section. The plot does meander, and many things, including characters' goals and motives, are vaguely explained at best. However, the writing carries you along, and the section on Mars is quite well done, neither overly technical nor kitschy. ...more
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