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The Half-Made World

(The Half-Made World #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,794 ratings  ·  497 reviews
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 crippl

Hardcover, 479 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Tor Books (first published October 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  3,794 ratings  ·  497 reviews

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Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Order and Chaos. The Line and the Gun. The battle between the two elemental forces of order and chaos has long been a favourite for fantasy literature and it has provided fallow fertile ground for many tales of human society as it gets caught in the middle of these two titanic ways of viewing the universe. What better stage for displaying this great and never-ending battle than the American West? What other time period more succinctly portrays the stark differences between these two great forces ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
I will go on record that my hatred of the Western genre has been sorely shaken lately. I think the revisionist Steampunk lit has really infused a classic genre with much needed freshness. I dare to say that Half-Made World is the apex of these selections.
The author takes the American West and plops it into a fictional world, with several warring factions fighting over the future of the country, none all the way black or white. The complexity of the world and characters was so engrossing, similar
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steampunk/SF Western fans
Recommended to Terence by: Won in a GR giveaway
Shelves: sf-fantasy
My first experience with a GoodReads’ giveaway was not a very happy one. The book was subpar but it was free so my complaints couldn’t be too excessive. I’m happy to say that my second giveaway win was a considerably different experience.

The Half-Made World gets a solid 3 stars – it falls between 3.5 and 4 but I can’t quite bring myself to give it the coveted fourth star.

When I first read the blurbs for the book I was immediately reminded of the opening scene in Michael Moorcock’s The Weird of
Sep 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really fantastic, imaginative adventure set in something a bit like America's Wild West of old. Like many Westerns, the main characters are damaged people in pursuit of their own interests, demonstrating occasional bursts of heroism. But unlike most Westerns, people are queer, female, and not necessarily white. And of course, there is the magic: the Line, with their noise-bombs that tear at the mind and their sentient engines; and the Agents of the Gun, whose weapons confer superhuman power but ...more
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm not sure I enjoyed The Half-Made World. I was intrigued by it, which is something different. There's nothing here to hang your hopes on, to get emotionally attached to: the Linesmen are interchangeable, the Line unpleasant; the Agents of the Gun are as bad or worse, though at least they're individuals; the General is nothing but a tool for the plot; Liv is colourless... Even the Republic is hollow. The narration follows a Linesman, an Agent, and Liv, who is neutral. It really just emphasises ...more
Kara Babcock
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read, fantasy, own
I have great respect for writers who can create entirely different worlds without succumbing to the need to explain every little detail of the world’s workings. Felix Gilman accomplishes this with The Half-Made World. His world is nothing like our own. There is the barest patina of the Wild West to it in the set dressings and costumes: frontier towns, guns and lawmakers, the looming spectre of industrialization, and disillusioned soldiers from a forlorn war. But this world has no connection to o ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a good mix of steampunk/western with some supernatural thrown in for good measure. A war rages on the West between the Line (steampunk) and the Gun (western) parts. Only one person possesses knowledge on how to stop it, but there is a minor problem - his mind is almost completely destroyed. Now both sides try to get a hold of this dangerous knowledge.

The only part I am unclear on - is this supposed to be a standalone? If so, the author makes a really good job of building a unique world
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, a questionable ending at best kept this wonderful novel from being perfect. This is a dark, pseudo-western, pseudo-steam punk, fantasy that is centered around an anti-hero named John Creedmoor and his gun Maggfrid. He really pushes the boundaries of being a protagonist, but I found his character to be deep, and fascinating. I loved the world that is portrayed here, the "magic", the gods and the demons. I cannot wait to read more from Gilman, and hopefully read more about the character ...more
Ahahahaha wow I read this so quickly?? Fair warning, I'm gonna gush unreservedly in this review because this book turned out to be my EVERYTHING and hit all my buttons.

The Half-Made World is a steampunk Western with some helpings of magic, set in an alternate world where the land is still half-made, where reality disintegrates at the frontier. It's a wonderful fantastical stand-in for a Western, depicting a world at war caught between two inexorable factions: Gun and
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
My favorite thing about this book is the world, which is original and complex and imaginative, yet so thoroughly grounded in realism and sensory detail that it feels more like historical fantasy than Weird Fantasy. It’s as unique as something by, say, Mieville, but without having that weirdness-for-weirdness’s-sake feel that makes it so hard for a realist like me to really enjoy his work.

Half the fun of this book is not knowing where the plot is going and figuring out what’s going on in the worl
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
What a remarkable book. It may yet turn out to be a 5, because it lived in me while I was reading it. But be warned, it's not advertised as such, but it is the first of a dualogy. THe ending hangs, and I was relieved to learn that it's not the finale.

I can't even place it in a genre. Steampunk with magic realism? Dystopian? Or fantasy? A Western? All of those. Clang clang go the Engines of The Line. Devouring the land into gray. The Guns embody their Agents to war with the Line, but they are dem
My Awful Reviews
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's no secret (for those who know me) that I lightly dabble in writing from time to time. One of the ideas that I have sloshing around in my brain is for a fantasy western with x-men style powers. So, whenever I see a book that has elements of the wild west and magic, I automatically have to give it a go. And I have to say, I'm very glad that I gave The Half-Made World a go.

The novel starts with an excellent prologue, where The General, who is losing his mind, tries desperately to cling to anyt
Feb 20, 2012 rated it liked it
The opposite of post-apocalyptic--antegenetic, maybe--and, like the old Rahab story from Jewish legend, the setting is not yet truly created--but nevertheless the narrative proceeds. I'm not sure if it's a brilliant conceit about the writing of speculative fiction to leave the setting rough along its margins (and we are constantly reminded of the writtenness of the setting, insofar as the story consistently refers back to its own "outright myths and stories and the most unplesant sort of fantasi ...more
Gilman crafts a superb synthesis of dystopian literature, dark fantasy, satire, western and some would argue steampunk, but I would argue that it uses some the witty anachronism of said genre without any of its clichés. Mixing the horrors of world war one with the creation myth of the wild west ( and Australia’s outback) he comes up with some thoughtful metaphors with the struggle between the Line, the Gun, and the Republic. Each of these is abundantly realized and imagined and don’t act as prop ...more
Daniel Roy
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New Weird die hards
Shelves: fantasy, new-weird
The Half-Made World is a good representation of the strengths and limitations of the "New Weird" brand of SF inspired by China Mieville. But although the novel's powerful setting starts out full of promises, it runs out of steam completely before the novel is through.

The setting of The Half-Made World starts out exciting and fresh, with its mix of cursed gunslingers carrying demon-haunted guns, and the grim, Nazi-like servant armies of steampunk sentient Engines. There's also the promise of an u
The Half-Made World is quite a strange book. It is dark, dense and awesome, part steampunk, part magic, all within a wild-west kind of mythology

The 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
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The world is unfinished. Everything is very solid and normal in the East, but the farther West one travels, the more unfamiliar and changeable the world becomes. Powerful forces will stop at nothing to gain control: on the side of chaos are the Agents of the Gun, individuals whose masters are demon-haunted firearms. On the other side is The Line, a society controlled by sentient machines known as Engines. The Line moves inexorably into the West, and the Gun does what it can to impede its progres ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it
The Half-Made World is one of those books that I enjoy immensely while reading but once I've finished, I realize that there are enough questions left and flaws that I'm disappointed.

The Half-Made World gives snapshots of extensive world building but when all is said and done, I don't feel that I understand the world at all. I still don't understand the motives of the Gun and the Line and I don't even have a vague idea about what the Gun does beside oppose the Line. I can tell that Gilman knows
Fantasy Literature
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman, is a strikingly original book that, though it has its flaws, is a fascinating opening to a new world and characters. I look forward to rejoining when the sequel (and the title “The Half-Made World “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 (w
wanderer (Para)
DNF 43%

It's not you, book, it's me.

By all means, this feels like it should have been interesting, but it just...isn't. I may return one day, but currently, I just can't get myself to push through.

I'd describe it as a western with a steampunk and slight New Weird flavour. From what I gathered, the world in the West is unformed and divided between two warring factions, between lawful evil and chaotic evil. One is the Line who represent order, technology, a highly bureaucratic society, travel with
Travis Knight
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Felix Gilman's novel, The Half-Made World, is one of those few books you need to see to believe. It is a once-a-decade masterpiece that should be—and I hope will be—held up as a testament to what underrated and niche genres can do when treated with thoughtful and unreserved creativity. But the question must be posed: what genre is The Half-Made World? The book declares itself as among the "New Weird," but if you've never heard of that, you're not alone. Gilman's novel has clear steampunkqualitie ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm having a REALLY hard time rating this because I absolutely loved it but, to be extremely basic, I just didn't feel good about the ending. Everything about the characters and the world and the atmosphere of the book was gripping and incredible, and the horrors very real. In a struggle between Order and Chaos, a Wild West-esque setting is a good ones, and here it seems relevant that Order and Chaos are basically both amoral forces of total destruction, chewing up the world between them. It's a ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Two men race one another, each trying to be the first to capture an old crazed man. The masters of these men believe there may be a secret in the mad man's shattered mind.

The world is quite literally half-made. People are slowly pushing west, claiming more land, guided mostly by The Line. The Line is a mass organization of men, and I do mean men as in males not humans, working for The Engines. These engines are some manner of gigantic train-like things, that were created by The Line but
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
The Half-Made World is a steampunk scifi/fantasy set in an alternate American West where if you go far enough into the west, you'll find the world has not yet settled and is still changing. We follow the paths of Liv, a psychologist who goes to the House of Dolores intending to cure the mentally insane, but instead is kidnapped along with one of her patients, the General, by Creedmore, an Agent of the Gun, whose weapon houses a spirit that is his Master and who he mostly must obey. They are houn ...more
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-dystopia
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 ...more
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It took me a bit to get into this. I loved the opening chapter & the description of the General slowly losing his mind to the Line's noisebombs, and how wonderfully it presents the book and its world to the reader. Even so, the first fifth of the book, with the introductions and beginnings of the POV characters, was merely a pleasant read rather than a captivating one. Once the plot arrived at the House Dolorous, though, I was absolutely hooked and I couldn't stop reading (it took me about ten d ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand why I enjoyed this book so much. I really did, and I don't know why. It's a steampunk fantasy western, three words which should have sent me screaming for the hills, and yet it was well written and inventive and interesting enough that I stuck with it. It's not perfect; I wish the Linesmen had been a little more humanised, outside of Lowry's moments of personal pride, I wish the Folk hadn't teetered on the edge of a Magical Native stereotype and I wish Maggrid had been less of ...more
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
I feel like I should have a better defense of a two star review, but it's hard to muster more than a shrug for this book. A story about a war should make me want to pick a side. Or present a character or two I could root for.

The positives: the writing is solid - in particular, the descriptions of the Half Made portions of the world are cool, since the laws of physics and nature haven't been completely sorted out. The prologue was quite gripping (almost deceptively so - I feel like I was tricked
Dec 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
From such a promising beginning (Western! Steam punk! Imaginative setting! Mystery!) came big disappointment for me. I keep trying to make steam punk happen for myself and I keep failing. Tough it seems to marry some of my favorite genres, I can never find a book that really brings things together in a satisfying way. The Half Made World was more the same. I found the plot to really drag when it should have run and to really run when it should have slowed down and explained a little more. I did ...more
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I truly enjoyed this book, and am hoping for it's sequel.

It has much of what one seeks in good fantasy or sci fi. There is a strong cast of characters. They're gritty, naive, willful, brave, foolhardy and any number of other highly readable traits. The world building is spectacular. It grounds itself with many if our notions on what the old west was like, then adds a technological twist, and a supernatural twist, and a little bit of the weird for good measure. The book is dark at times, but ever
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