Weird Westerns

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

Check it out!

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

MY RATING:

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.

MY REVIEW:

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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