Tag Archives: Weird Western

Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: John Joseph Adams, Joe R. Lansdale, Ben H. Winters, David Farland, Mike Resnick, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Beth Revis, Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, Rajan Khanna, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Bear, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffrey Ford, Ken Liu, Laura Anne Gilman, Walter Jon Williams, Fred Van Lente & Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Am I interrupting?” she asked.

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Synopsis

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!

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.

Thoughts

What a fantastic collection. And a great new genre to add to my ever-expanding knowledge of / collection of books. Before reading Dead Man’s Hand and Westward Weird, I had never heard of Weird westerns. And now it’s a genre that I’m seriously keen to find more of. There is just something amazingly fun and awesome about this collection. Very, very enjoyable.

The gunslingers and card players throughout this anthology took me on an absolutely joyous ride. One that I was kind of disappointed finished so quickly. The idea of the wild west has always intrigued me, making this the first time that I was completely able to thrown myself into this fascination.

This anthology didn’t quite get five stars because I didn’t fall head over heels for each and every story. Having said that, I would most definitely read this again. Even those stories which weren’t quite as holy crap amazing as the others.

<- Dead Man’s HandThe Red-Headed Dead ->

Image source: Amazon

Neversleeps by Fred Van Lente

Overview
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Title: Neversleeps
Author: Fred Van Lente
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Weird western
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: The split-second, right before: his breath catching, pulse racing like a thoroughbred, thrilling to the randomness of life without thaumaturgy, the keenness of a skate down the razor’s edge, without horoscopes that definitively told him what the next day would bring, without love enchantments to spark others’ desire, without the certainty magery’s manipulation of reality brought.

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Synopsis

The “Neversleeps” try to keep check with the world. But Edison has different ideas, he believes in free power for the world.

Thoughts

I love that this weird western features Edison. And the experiments on power and all sorts of fun history alright, there is a magic twist and a flying dragon and all sorts of other nonsensical fun, but still… the melding of actual history and pretend history… well, it works well.

This story jumps around in time a little bit, it was a great, fun journey. One that I think I need to take again… put all the pieces together in my head even better on this second reading. But, for now… my first read through was a lot of fun and filled with all sorts of joy.

Neversleeps is a fun and engaging short story. One that I very much enjoyed, and would most definitely read again.

<- The Golden AgeDead Man’s Hand ->

Image source: Amazon

The Golden Age by Walter Jon Williams

Overview
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Title: The Golden Age
Author: Walter Jon Williams
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Superheroes, Weird western, Wild west
Dates read: 17th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: He whirred right over my head, and I felt the breeze from his cape on my face.

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Synopsis

The days of the Gold Rush are over. And, somehow, they have been overrun by a bunch of completely insane superheroes and supervillains running around in capes on their own personal crusades.

Thoughts

I could not stop laughing all throughout this short story. It was quirky and weird. And filled with a great humour that left me grinning. After all, it’s ultimately about a bunch of superhero-type characters running around the wild west. Actually, it’s more supervillains… but the humour and entertainment is still the same.

I absolutely loved that this story focused on the Gold Rush and the lack of law in the land at the time. But, then to overlay this, there were mortal enemies, insanity and all sorts of questionable decisions. There was also a constant discussion of the fact that they are all mad. It’s just a special kind of madness, running around, donning a persona and just generally wreaking havoc and mayhem. A madness that I can 100% get behind by the way.

The Golden Age is a really funny, cute and light short story. It had me giggling and smiling throughout the entire story. There was great wit and entertainment to the shenanigans throughout this. I would most definitely read this again and again whenever I need a light pick me up.

<- The Devil’s JackNeversleeps ->

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Westward Weird edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: Westward Weird
Author: Martin H. Greenberg, Kerrie Hughes, Jay Lake, Larry D. Sweazy, Anton Strout, Seanan McGuire, Brenda Cooper, Christopher McKitterick, Steven Saus, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jennifer Brozek, J. Steven York, Jeff Mariotte & Jody Lynn Nye
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 15th June – 14th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She pulled the last of the pins free and shook out her hair.

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Synopsis

When you were a kid did you long to put on your cowboy boots, belt on your guns, saddle up, and ride off to find adventures? Did you sit glued to the TV watching The Lone Ranger, Marverick, bonanza, The Wild Wild West, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Firefly, to name just a few of the many series that have been popular over the last sixty years? And were you caught up in movies like Outlands, Time Bandits, Serenity, or Back to the Future Part III? If so, Westward Weird is the book for you.

The thirteen original stories included here ride a very broad range between science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal – and all of htem are told from a Wild West perspective. So get ready for some good old-fashioned adventure as:

  • The Old Gods cross paths in the Old West
  • Two thieves are given a job they can’t refuse, but no one told them they’d encounter aliens along the way
  • A mining family never expected their claim to be jumped from parallel universes
  • A Mars colony may be about to find out exactly how the West was won
  • Cowboys will be hard-pressed to ride herd on the living dead
Thoughts

This was a fantastic collection that introduced me to a genre that I never really knew existed – Weird westerns. I absolutely loved it. Whilst I haven’t really been getting into Westerns all that much, I most definitely love the science fiction and fantasy spin to the topic. Now I have a whole new genre to read and things to fill my shelves with… that wish list just keeps on growing.

Now that I’ve read this collection, I need to find a few weird western full-length novels. After all, it’s a genre that I’ve most definitely fallen in love with and want even more of. I can’t wait to read more and more weird westerns and fill my brain with all sorts of cyborg wild west stories. Tales of werewolves and vampires. And just…. Fun.

This is a fantastic collection that not only fits great into my shelf of books that I already own, but it also introduced me to a great new sub-genre, authors and just… fun. Now I need to save up some money to get some of the books that this has left on my wishlist…

<- Lone WolfThe Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen ->

Image source: Amazon

Lone Wolf by Jody Lynn Nye

Overview
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Title: Lone Wolf
Author: Jody Lynn Nye
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Weird western, Werewolves
Dates read: 14th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: I never want to hear that woman’s name again!

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Synopsis

His little sister was taken in the middle of the night by a werewolf. So, along with his best friend (and her beau), they plan to take matters into their own hands and find themselves some revenge…

Thoughts

I did guess the ending of this and the whole werewolf thing about halfway through this story. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I did enjoy the fact that it was such a nice, easy story though. After all, sometimes reading short stories is all about having a nice, easy read.

I loved the ending of this short story. Namely the fact that Jo is just going to get into SO much damn trouble. After all, she’s kind of a dick in this… so I relish the idea that she’s going to get into trouble for her actions. Although, it was also nice to see her stand up for herself.

This story ended with a kind of happily ever after… yes, Jo is going to get in trouble. But, ultimately, almost everyone gets what they wanted.

<- Black TrainWestward Weird ->

Image source: Amazon

The Devil’s Jack by Laura Anne Gilman

Overview
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Title: The Devil’s Jack
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy, Weird western
Dates read: 12th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “But you waited.”

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Synopsis

Jack knew better. But he still made a deal with the devil. And now he’s Devil’s Jack, running errands for seven and seven and seven again.

Thoughts

A deal with the devil is never a good idea. But it is a really fun thing to read about. I mean, a deal with the devil is guaranteed to be an interesting beginning to a story. And a great driver for morally grey characters. After all, if they’re doing evil things, then it’s because the devil asked them to and it isn’t because they are evil themselves…

I love how although this is a story about a man who has sold his soul to the devil, it’s primarily about him outsmarting the devil. And the fact that both he and the devil know that even if he’s momentarily outsmarted the devil, it’s just a moment. A quiet little rebellion that ultimately does nothing for Jack.

This was a really fun and humorous short story. I absolutely adored it and had a huge smile on my face the whole time that I was reading it. It was funny and cute. Full of clever, witty moments and just a seriously enjoyable read.

<- What I Assume You Shall AssumeThe Golden Age ->

Image source: Amazon

Black Train by Jeff Mariotte

Overview
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Title: Black Train
Author: Jeff Mariotte
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Weird western, Wild west, Zombies
Dates read: 10th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “Believe me, I would love to oblige, sir,” the man said.

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Synopsis

Two men are in love with the same woman, and on a hunting trip. What you think is going to go wrong gets slightly derailed when they stumble across a black train and a plot to destroy.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed this mould-driven short story. After all, mould is actually kind of a scary and insidious thing if you really think about it. So using it as a biological weapon and scary object in this short story was brilliant. And made me want to scrub every inch of my house to make sure that there wasn’t any zombie mould anywhere…

I found Evan and Charlie to be a very interesting team. They are so unalike, yet so similar at the same time. A great little juxtaposition that drew me in. Plus, from the beginning it’s obvious that they really don’t like one another. Though the depths of this dislike are only slowly unveiled. Yet another aspect of this story that I quite enjoyed – not everything was spelt out and indicated from the very beginning, but it is slowly revealed.

As with many short stories that I love, this tale ends with a very open-ended feeling. It highlights the dangers of such a weapon. And, just generally left me with a goosebump feeling. And some serious awkwardness.

<- The Clockwork CowboyLone Wolf ->

Image source: Amazon

What I Assume You Shall Assume by Ken Liu

Overview
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Title: What I Assume You Shall Assume
Author: Ken Liu
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Weird western
Dates read: 6th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: The deer trail that they had been following also seemed to dip and twist more than usual.

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Synopsis

Amos just wants to be left alone, away from the horrors that humanity rains upon each other. And then he comes across a Chinawoman and a whole heap of issues land in his lap.

Thoughts

This short story is all about standing up for the “little guy”. Or in this case, the little woman. It’s about turning into a hero when you most need to and finding a way to live with the decisions that you make. Or at least, that’s what I got out of this story.

I love how this story constantly flicked between perspectives and timelines. There are great flashbacks to the past and the reasons for both of the characters’ decisions and choices. And they both have completely unique outlooks on the exact same experiences and moments. It also helps to highlight how damaging the “us vs them” mentality can truly be.

This story is not only fun and interesting, but it also highlights the importance and power of words. I love that although there is fighting, guns, and weaponry, somehow it’s the magic of words that really hold the power at the end of the day.

<- La Madre Del OroThe Devil’s Jack ->

Image source: Amazon

The Clockwork Cowboy by J. Steven York

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: The Clockwork Cowboy
Author: J. Steven York
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Cyborgs, Weird western, Wild west
Dates read: 5th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Which was true.

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Synopsis

In the middle of the desert is a town where everyone just wants to be free. But it’s a town with a difference – it’s colonised by free automatons. And all they want is to be left alone.

Thoughts

I thought that this was a great short story that emphasised the fight for survival and freedom. Which, considering all of the Western themed stories I’ve been reading lately seems to be a bit of a theme. A great theme though. Particularly when this is combined with automatons and science fiction…

This was a wonderfully intense and brilliant short story. I was hooked from the very beginning and found it difficult to look away. Probably lucky that this was a short story, because my productivity would have gone down the drain if this was any longer. At least being so short, I was able to be fully immersed without jeopardising all of the adult things that I needed to be doing…

The cruel turning on the lead character in this story at the end was a little heartbreaking. After all, the saviour is then spurned. And finds himself an outcast when all he did was save everyone…

<- Showdown at High MoonBlack Train ->

Image source: Amazon

La Madre Del Oro by Jeffrey Ford

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: La Madre Del Oro
Author: Jeffrey Ford
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Weird western, Wild west
Dates read: 2nd November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: I was beginning to get a little sore as I’d not rode a horse in some time.

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Synopsis

He’s supposed to be helping fellow lawmen and gunslingers to hunt down the thing that is killing everyone in the area. But, what they come across may be too much even for this ragtag bunch…

Thoughts

I love that throughout this whole story, the lead character is constantly running from the monsters that go bump in the night. It makes this story feel a little more fast paced than I had anticipated… after all, the whole story is about running. And running is fast… see what I did there?

This short story takes the fairly typical themes of gunslingers and mining towns that I constantly come across in westerns. But, it has a slightly more wild west feel to it. One that, partnered with all of the horrible things that go bump in the night left me feeling very content and happy.

La Madre Del Oro is an incredibly easy and fun read. It doesn’t so much have a happy ending. And there is a lot of gruesomeness throughout. But it’s still a story that I would love to read again and again. Gruesome murders and lack of happy ending and all.

<- SundownWhat I Assume You Shall Assume ->

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