We’ve got a prize to give away first off today, the lovely pocket watch from Steampunk Threads. If you don’t win a new contest starts Monday.
The winner of the pocket watch is…
Congrats! Please email me to claim your prize. (Suzannelazear (@) hotmail
Today we welcome author David Boop.
David Boop is a Denver-based single parent, full-time employee, returning college student, oh, and yes, and author. His first novel, the sci-fi/noir “She Murdered Me with Science” came out in ’08. He has over a dozen short stories and two short films to his credit. He’s written in several genres, including weird westerns. His weirdest job was professional Beetlejuice impersonator. You can find out more on his website, www.davidboop.com.
Meanwhile… On the Other Side of the World.
By David Boop
“Doc’s Alive! And he’s in the Old West!”
While technically a comedy with shades of steampunk (“Ice Tea?”) and science-fiction (It’s not a hold-up, “It’s a science experiment!”) Back to the Future III gave many of my generation their first taste of a weird western.
However, some of us were fortunate enough to have discovered the weird western concept via comics, pulps, film serials or television many years before. I can remember sitting as a little whipper-snapper glued to the TV as cowboys lassoed a dinosaur in The Valley of Gwangi. As easily as I accepted that, I was more than ready to launch into the James Bond-esque world of post-Civil War western intrigue with the original The Wild, Wild West TV series (not the horrible remake.)
As to what makes a weird western, for the uninitiated, it is a gentle blending of non-western elements into the classic western tale. In Jonah Hex, the original comic book character was given the “mark of the demon” which eventually led to him being able to communicate with the dead. In Once Upon a Time in the East by Lionel Fenn, an outlaw is dragged through time in an attempt to find redemption. I’ve read weird westerns with aliens, zombies, robots and magic. The trick to good weird western writing is not to overpower the story with too many non-elements so that the core genre changes from western to something else.
Weird westerns are to steampunk what Star Trek: The Original Series is to Star Wars; the less sophisticated, country cousin come acallin’. While Victorians were having tea and riding in airships as they fought off sky pirates, on the other side of the planet, cowboys were drinkin’ moonshine on a train and battling an undersea invasions from Atlantis. Victorian England and Western Expansion happen roughly about the same time period, so it was only natural that the cousins would meet, marry in classic Jerry Lee Lewis fashion, and produce weird western steampunk fiction, such as Cheri Priest’s marvelous Dreadnought and Mike Resnick’s delightful The Buntline Special.
My own weird western writing started with a little mystery involving the ghost of an outlaw having to investigate and avenge his own death. “The Rag Doll Kid” was picked up by Tales of the Talisman Magazine, and will see a reprint in May within How the West was Weird Vol. 2. I created a fictional town of Drowned Horse, AZ for the piece, so when I was invited to submit to Science Fiction Trails Magazine I set my next piece, “Grismel Guffyfeld’s Quick Drawatorium,” in the same location. I decided to make this town the nexus of weird stuff, and have now three pieces set there. “Bleeding the Bank Dry,” about a vampire hired to pull a bank robbery, was released last year in Six-Guns Straight from Hell. I hope to release a collection called The Drowned Horse Chronicle, taking the reader through an eighty year history of the town from creation to destruction.
This is a good time for the weird western. In addition to the much anticipated, Cowboys and Aliens, Ron Moore, the force behind the Galactica reboot, is rebooting The Wild, Wild West. (I have no doubt Artemis Gordon will end up being a woman, which actually makes sense.) In addition, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series will finally be adapted into both film and television.
So, strap on some irons and jump on your robot steed. We’re in for one hell of a wild ride!