Mark's Reviews > The Half-Made World

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman
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's review
Feb 26, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: science-fiction
Read from February 26 to March 02, 2012

An unexpected treat.

A lot of the time when people talk about what they like about a book they will talk about how it's well-plotted or they like the characters, or there's strong world-building... that sort of stuff. It's good when all of that is good, for sure. But you forget when you read SF/F by the bunches that you can also appreciate the writing, not only evocative descriptions of scenery but just well-constructed, clever sentences.

I liked the rest of it too, though. This is a unique take on a kind of wild west setting, and what makes it different is the fact that the conflict is between more than just the steady march of technology against the luddites. It's kind of steampunk, except not, because there's no romance to the machines; they are the soulless ones. And the main enemy of this technology is not exactly angelic either. There is a third force, though, and this is a force that is, mostly, of men, trying to break that paradigm, although this never descends into cheesy "power of the human spirit" territory (which I can put up with from time to time, but it wouldn't have helped here).

The cast of characters is small, but strong. We get in the heads of only three characters and that helps them stay distinct. The voices of each are different: the snobby professor thrust into a wild world, the disillusioned gunslinger, the eminently replaceable functionary of the behemoth. Each bringing his or her own agenda into the events, introducing the reader slowly but surely to the world about which we are reading.

Pleasant surprises are the best kind.

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Reading Progress

02/26/2012 page 1
0.0% "Standard "saw on the shelf, remember seeing its name somewhere." Hopefully the place I saw its name was "It's good!" rather than "It sucks!""
02/28/2012 page 71
15.0% "This book is a reminder that just because you're reading SF/F doesn't mean you have to forfeit the joy of a well-constructed sentence. Gilman is delivering fantastic prose."

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