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Posted January 4, 2013
Posted December 8, 2012
Hard to relate to main character
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Albert
This is the story of Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.
Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of JasperCity, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.
Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.
If you’re reading this in the future,Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end. (FelixGilman.com)
Harry Ransom is a visionary and a con-artist, an inventor and a schemer, an adventurer and bit of a huckster. When he was young, his life was saved by the miracle of electricity. As he grew up, electricity gave his home town light through the Northern Lighting Corporation. And, since the light wasn’t free, it quickly drained the town of its money and vitality.
Leaving these circumstances behind him, Ransom sets off to make his fortune. With little money, he might have despaired, but Ransom had a plan and something extra. The Apparatus is Ransom’s pride and joy. An incredible machine based on technology that he acquired from the magical First Folk. The Apparatus produces light without electricity. Well, light and some unpredictable side effects. Sometimes dangerous side effects.
Ransom’s plan is relatively simple. He searches for investors to provide the capital to perfect his wonderful apparatus. In his travels, he meets other travelers who have their own secrets. He even comes in contact with both the Line and the Gun, two powers that have been at war for over 20 years.
The above is the basic premise of The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman. It’s a fairly complex novel since it combines so many different genres from the western to fantasy to steampunk. It’s also difficult to classify the overall theme since it is at times an adventure, a comedy and even a touch of satire. Despite the broadness of this classification, it really doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the novel.
The novel is written as an autobiography of Harry Ransom. It’s first person and in many cases assumes that the reader is familiar with the world. Occasionally however, Ransom will speak directly to the reader in order to explain something. The inconsistency is disconcerting.
The main character, Ransom, is not a terribly sympathetic character. In fact, he could be classified as arrogant and self-serving. Since the entire novel is about him, it makes it difficult to sympathize when he gets into trouble.
This review and more at openbooksociety dot com
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Posted April 25, 2014
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