Tag Archives: weird western

INTERVIEW: John Joseph Adams, Editor of DEAD MAN’S HAND: An Anthology of the Weird West

John Joseph Adams is the series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He is also the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, such as The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Armored, Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, and The Living Dead. Recent books include The Apocalypse Triptych (consisting of The End is Nigh, The End is Now, and The End Has Come), Robot Uprisings (co-edited with Daniel H. Wilson), and Dead Man’s Hand. He has been nominated for eight Hugo Awards and five World Fantasy Awards, and he has been called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble. John is also the editor and publisher of the digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and is a producer for WIRED’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Find him on Twitter as @JohnJosephAdams.

His new anthology, DEAD MAN’S HAND: AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE WEIRD WEST, just came out, and he kindly stopped by to chat about it!

Kristin Centorcelli: Congrats on your new collection, DEAD MAN’S HAND! Will you tell us a little about it and what you think sets it apart from other anthologies?

John Joseph Adams: It’s an anthology of “weird western” stories. Not to be confused with “space westerns” like Firefly, weird westerns generally take place right here on Earth, only the world we all know and love is just a little bit different: Like clockwork cowboys roam the frontier. Or 49ers head to California to mine for mana instead of gold. Or airships patrol the skies. In other words: weird westerns are stories of the Old West infused with elements of science fiction, fantasy, or horror, and often with a little counterfactual twist thrown into the mix for good measure.

The phrase “dead man’s hand” refers to the poker hand held by the gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok when, in 1876, he was shot and killed by the coward Jack McCall. There’s little doubt that Hickok was playing cards at the time of his death, but what Wild Bill was actually holding seems to be open to some debate. Legend has it that Hickok’s hand was comprised of black aces and eights (with the fifth card a mystery), but in some accounts it’s jacks and tens, or other variations. I suppose the only way we could ever know for sure would be to ask the man himself by reanimating his corpse or traveling back in time… both of which are the kinds of things that can happen in the “weird western” tale.
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Read an Excerpt from the Weird West Anthology DEAD MAN’S HAND edited by John Joseph Adams

Check out this excerpt from the new weird west anthology Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams. It’s from a story by one of the contributors, Walter Jon Williams.

Here’s how the anthology is described:


From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales—stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic—produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Read on the for the excerpt…

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Weird Westerns

Over at Kirkus Reviews this week, I take a look at some relatively recent weird westerns.

Check it out!

Cover & Synopsis: ONCE UPON A TIME IN HELL by Guy Adams

Here’s the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Once Upon a Time in Hell by Guy Adams, sequeul to the weird western The Good the Bad and the Infernal.

Here’s the synopsis:
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TOC: ‘Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West’ Edited by John Joseph Adams

Editor John Joseph Adams has posted the table of contents for his upcoming anthology from Titan Books: Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West.

Here’s come information from John’s announcement:

The twenty-two original works—produced specifically for this volume—will range from a brand new Orson Scott Card tale (his first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade), to an original adventure by Fred Van Lente (creator of Cowboys & Aliens). It will also include stories such as Elizabeth Bear’s story of a steampunk bordello, and new writer Rajan Khanna’s exploration of sorcery found in a magical deck of playing cards.

“The weird western is the forefather of steampunk, with a history that includes Stephen King’s Dark Tower and Card’s Alvin Maker,” editor John Joseph Adams explains. “But where steampunk is Victorian, weird westerns are darker, grittier, so the protagonist might be gunned down in a duel, killed by a vampire, or confronted by aliens on the streets of a dusty frontier town.”

The phrase “dead man’s hand’ refers to the poker hand held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot and killed by the coward Jack McCall. “What the hand actually was seems to be open to some debate,” Adams continues. “I suppose the only way we could ever know for sure would be to reanimate his corpse or to travel back in time … both of which are the stuff of the “weird western” tale—stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic.”

And check out this star-studed table of contents:
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[GUEST POST] Heather Massey on Five Ways an Automaton Gunslinger Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the subgenre, her most recent title being Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts. In her spare time, she roams the sea of stars as an automaton space pirate.

Five Ways an Automaton Gunslinger Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Traditionally we think of money, a nice house in the suburbs, a good night’s sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet as ways to improve the quality of our lives. Nine times out of ten, those strategies are pretty effective. But another option exists…one that heretofore has flown under the proverbial radar.

I’m talking about automaton gunslingers.

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Cover & Synopsis: “The Doctor and the Rough Rider: A Weird West Tale” by Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick has sent along the cover art for his upcoming novel, The Doctor and the Rough Rider: A Weird West Tale, the follow on book to The Buntline Special and The Doctor and the Kid.

Here’s the synopsis from The Book Depository:

The successful Wild West meets steampunk series continues. The battle lines are drawn: Theodore Roosevelt and Geronimo against the most powerful of the medicine men, a supernatural creature that seemingly nothing can harm; and Doc Holliday against the man with more credited kills than any gunfighter in history. It does not promise to be a tranquil summer.

Book info as per Amazon US:

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1616146907
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616146900

Amazon did not have a release date, but Barnes & Noble says it’s December 4, 2012.

REVIEW: The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick

REVIEW SUMMARY: A somewhat odd story that yields a pleasantly fun read.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The gunfight at the OK Corral gets the weird western treatment as it’s mixed with alternate history and a dash of zombie.


PROS: Compelling, otherworldly flavor; Resnick’s clear and tight writing style; the weirdness; Doc Holliday’s relationship with the undead Johnny Ringo.

CONS: Doc Holliday is a bit too smug for his own good; Besides Kate Elder, other characters are serviceable, but somewhat cliché.

BOTTOM LINE: A cleanly-written, fun weird western with enough fantastical elements to raise it above standard fare.

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