Friday, August 10, 2012

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

I had been looking at this book for a long time before I got a chance to read it. I admit that the simplicity of the cover grabbed my attention, as well as the story description. The feel and pace of the story reminded me very much of the campaigns we had when playing Deadlands, the role-playing game. Gilman does an excellent job of bringing his world to life for the reader.

The Half-Made World is the story of an alternate American Wild West. Our protagonist is Liv Alverhuysen, a female psychologist who decides to respond to a job offer sent to her late husband to work in a hospital in the unmade west. The hospital serves both sides of a conflict for control of the West, the Guns and the Line. The hospital maintains its neutrality because it is protected by a spirit that will allow no violence to be done within its realm.

The Gun recruits dangerous men and women of ill-repute and character using fear to maintain control, while the Line overcomes towns and incorporates all into their fold and making them slaves. Both sides are seeking a General who fell in battle to one of the Line's noisemaker bombs. They both hope to gain the secret of a weapon that he holds in his head, one that could destroy their enemy or themselves. The Guns and the Engines of the Line are possessed by some strange demons. The Line moves towards the hospital, while the Gun sends John Creedmoor to infiltrate the facility.

Once all the main actors in the tale reach the hospital, the action steamrolls (forgive the pun) forward extremely rapidly. Characters must wrestle with internal conflicts as well as external ones. I look forward to the sequel when it comes out in November.