Tag Archives: Westward Weird

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 ->

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Lone Wolf by Jody Lynn Nye

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

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 ->

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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 ->

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The Clockwork Cowboy by J. Steven York

Overview
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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 ->

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Showdown at High Moon by Jennifer Brozek

Overview
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Title: Showdown at High Moon
Author: Jennifer Brozek
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Weird western
Dates read: 1st November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She is your queen.

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Synopsis

Mena and Will just want to do one more job so that they can have their happily ever after. But this last job is a bit of a showdown, and seriously unexpected.

Thoughts

There was a really great uniqueness in this story – the idea of Scarabs and Shifters as two different beings constantly at war with one another. The fact that the Scarabs are the good guys just made me like this all that much more. I love when stories take a new and unique spin.

Mena and Will are such a nice couple. I love that as the story unfolds, you realise that everything they do, they do together. I always love stories which feature a couple that work as a team, it’s not necessarily a trope that I come across all that often.

There wasn’t anything about this short story that I didn’t enjoy. It was fun, engaging and totally unique. I would totally read more stories by Jennifer Brozek if this is anything to go by.

<- Renn and the Little MenThe Clockwork Cowboy ->

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Renn and the Little Men by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Overview
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Title: Renn and the Little Men
Author: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Weird western
Dates read: 31st October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Yeah, not for me either.

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Synopsis

In a world where gunslingers rule all, Renn si the one who tuaght her brother, Kid Vicious to shoot. But how will she ever be taken seriously herself?

Thoughts

I knew that there were going to be little men in this story just from the title. But the way that they were in this and how the story evolved… that was something new. And fun. I really and seriously enjoyed this short story and, even after turning the final page, I couldn’t quite get it out of my head.

I love that Renn is the better shooter in her family. That even her brother, who is recognised as a gunslinger, admits that she is better. There aren’t many stories (or indeed brothers I believe) who would necessarily admit that. It made me really love her brother and left me smiling after I turned the final page.

The little twists and turns throughout this story were seriously enjoyable and kind of cute. I had a good giggle throughout and would most definitely read this short story again.

<- Maybe Another TimeShowdown at High Moon ->

Image source: Amazon

Maybe Another Time by Dean Wesley Smith

Overview
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Title: Maybe Another Time
Author: Dean Wesley Smith
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Time travel, Weird western
Dates read: 24th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: If I weren’t so scared, I’d be stunned at the beauty of it all.

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Synopsis

Brenda and her husband are travelling through time from 2016 to the 1800s and back again. What they discover will blow your mind.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved the time travelling theme in this story. It was completely unexpected, joyful and wonderful. It also dealt with time travel in a way that I understood better than I had expected. After all, I frequently find time travel stories to be seriously difficult and convoluted.

Brenda and her husband (isn’t it weird that whilst writing this, I remember her name, but not his?), are a really kick ass couple. Physicist and mathematician. Both with a thirst for knowledge and an interest in discovering the truth. The fact that this leads to time travel, mining and numerous realities that weren’t expected… all that much better in my book.

The crystals in this story reflect the insane and complex nature of time travel. The multitude of ways in which time travel can be explained. The different paths that one decision can cause…. It will give me a headache if I think about it for too much longer…

<- Coyote, Spider, BatRenn and the Little Men ->

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Coyote, Spider, Bat by Steven Saus

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: Coyote, Spider, Bat
Author: Steven Saus
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Gods, Mythology, Vampires, Weird western
Dates read: 20th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: That’s what got these men all ready to jump into the arms of your girls.

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Synopsis

Coyote returns home to find her husband killed. Spider leaves home to save his lover. Then they confront Bat.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed the mix of mythologies in this short story. There is a nice balance between Native American and European mythology, whilst also showing the process of settling and colonisation in early America. It’s a really intriguing and well balanced story and one that I would read many more times.

I seriously love the fact that the Gods in this story are stronger than the vampires. But, there is still that horrible sense of colonisation and the beginning of the end. Or at least, a point of change after the grand battle in this short story. It’s a great way to deal with multiple themes. And I think that if I reread this, possibly with a little more knowledge of American history (of which I have none), I’d probably pick up on other great ideas and themes.

Not only is this a great short story. It’s also a great revenge story. One that I look forward to reading again and again in the future.

<- Surveyor of MarsMaybe Another Time ->

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Surveyor of Mars by Christopher McKitterick

Overview
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Title: Surveyor of Mars
Author: Christopher McKitterick
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Space, Weird western
Dates read: 29th September 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Imagine what we can do without them.

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Synopsis

John is part of the surveyor town on Mars. But when the governing bodies continuously ask for more and more of their tithe, it might just be time to give up his pacifist ways and start a new way of life.

Thoughts

It took me a little bit to get really hooked into this short story. Mostly because there was something that I thought was really good on tv. But, in irony of ironies. I can’t remember what was on tv in that moment. But I can remember how much I actually enjoyed this short story. It just took me that first page or two to completely fall into the spell…

I love that the lead “cowboy” (space cowboy) in this story is constantly focusing on trying to be a pacifist. That it isn’t about violence, but just trying to live and let live. Of course, being a weird western, this didn’t quite work. But I did love that differentiation in character that you don’t always get. Particularly when his reflection on his family indicate that they are most definitely not the same in their proclivities.

This story was definitely one that focused on the idea of power and community. I love that, ultimately, the community joined together and won the day. Even if there was a little bit of violence, mostly it was about unification and everyone joining together in a fight for their own freedom and… well, community.

<- The Ghost in the DoctorCoyote, Spider, Bat ->

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The Ghost in the Doctor by Brenda Cooper

Overview
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Title: The Ghost in the Doctor
Author: Brenda Cooper
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Weird western
Dates read: 14th August 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Even the ghost inside of him.

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Synopsis

Aeons ago it seems (but in reality, it was only years), a doctor made a deal with a medicine man which would make him just as powerful. Now, he realises that the gift may just be a curse. One that he really doesn’t want.

Thoughts

I found the idea in this short story completely intriguing. The fact that a man who is also a doctor has a slightly weird and definitely judgemental ghost sitting in his being sitting judgement on others. The fact that the consequences of this judgement are kind of severe just helped to add to my level of fascination. There were some slightly awkward moments. But it did really, really love this idea.

Most of the Weird westerns that I’ve been reading have featured cowboys. Even most of the westerns for that matter. Yet, this is the first one that seems to seriously feature Indians. The lead character might still be a white man. But the feature of the Indian culture and Medicine Man was beautiful. And it completely drew me in.

This short story brilliantly explored the pitfalls of power and getting what you think you want. Particularly in the case of this doctor – someone who kind of holds the power of life and death in their hands. But then seriously does so once a little magic is performed. It’s confusing and brilliant and wonderful. The ending was nothing like what ia expected. And somehow all that much more brilliant for it.

<- The Flower of ArizonaSurveyor of Mars ->

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