the half-made world
“He was–ah–he was carving the roast at dinner, for the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and the Bishop of Lodenstein, and others. And the effort, and the occasion, were too much for him. He swelled up in his shirtsleeves and burst. He fell with his mustaches in the gravy.”
tor.com put the first chapter of this book on-line and it was original enough to make me buy it… I read the remainder of the half-made world over the past week and really enjoyed the weirdness of it! It came as part of the steampunk month on tor.com but it blurs the genre boundaries as it also qualifies as weird West…
The book starts in a rather classical way with a triptych of the main characters leaving their current environment for the frightening western edge of the world. The plot is clearly set in the frontier spirit of the “conquest” of the West, but there is no true grand scheme behind the mechanical march of The Line that pushes the edge further and further, as shown by the more and more suicidal features of the advanced commando pursuing the General throughout the book. The forces resisting the relentless advance of The Line have no clear purpose either, since The Gun is made of psychopathic reincarnated deities, unable to do more than winning skirmishes, and the New Republic is a shallow shell living in the memory (and the apparatus) of its former glory. The original inhabitants of the unmade part of the world do not appear either to have enough magical power to stop the invasion of the settlers. The only oasis of good in Gilman’s universe is found in the hospital that welcomes all those hurt by the unceasing war(s), a place protected by a powerful spirit. the half-made world is only the first part of a duology, but it reads well by itself, the end being sufficiently vague to explain the main plot without completely closing the story. the half-made world is very well-written, with a gripping pace that makes leaving the central character a compelling reason to read further to meet her back… Unusual and dark, undoubtedly, but quite a pleasant and recommended read extending way beyond its steampunk base!