Posts Tagged ‘Weird West’

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!

-David Boop


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Thank you so much for making Steamed, and Steampunkapalooza, a success.  We’ve surpassed 300 posts and 2,000 comments (and 135,000 hits) in the two years this blog as been around.  Please keep visiting, commenting, and suggesting new guests and topics. 

It’s Carina Press Week as Steampunkapalooza draws to an end.  At Carina Press it’s also Steampunk week, where they’re promoting all their fab Steampunk books and authors and giving away a free Steampunk read.  Carina Press is part of Harlequin and they’re as excited about Steampunk as we are here at Steamed. 

This week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday), we’ll have a different Carina Press author on each day.  Each day you comment, you’re entered to win a prize pack from Carina Press, which includes e-books from all four of the Carina press authors featured this week. 

Today we welcome author Crista McHugh 

Crista McHugh grew up in small town Alabama, where she relied on story-telling as a natural way  to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.  She’s been a barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant.  Currently lives in the Seattle area with her husband and daughter, maintaining an alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while writing on nights and weekends.  For the latest updates and answers to any burning questions, please check out her blog.

How Bruce Campbell Inspired My Steampunk Western

by Crista McHugh

I have a confession to make. I loved The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr when I was younger. Bruce Campbell played the title character, a lawyer turned bounty hunter with a perchance for great one-liners. I was so bummed when Fox cancelled it, but thankfully, I can still download episodes on You Tube when I need to get my fix.

The great thing about this show (besides Bruce) was that it combined westerns with touch of the paranormal. It was Cowboys & Aliens before Harrison Ford was ever cast for the film. So when I started plotting for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2008, I naturally thought it would be fun to write something like Brisco County. But instead of using Sci-Fi elements, I veered more toward Steampunk.

Like The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, the world of The Alchemy of Desire is part Wild West and part Wild, Wild West. It’s about two brothers on a quest to find the White Buffalo (not a golden orb) with a gang of bad guys (and their steam-powered inventions) hot on their tails and woman who has her own agenda for them. And there’s even a slightly roguish character that’s great with the one-liners.

You can buy The Alchemy of Desire from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook retailers.

Where do you draw your Steampunk inspiration?

 ~Crista McHugh


In addition to being entered into our week-long drawing for a Carina Press Steampunk Prize Pack, one lucky commenter on today’s post with also win a $10 GC to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Contest closes May 1st at 11:59 PM PST.  For grand prize drawing, one entry per commenter per blog post during Carina Press Steampunk Week.  Contest for grand prize closes May 8th at 11:59 PM PST.

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Happy Teen Lit Day!  To celebrate young adult books, there’s something happening today called “Rock the Drop.”  Basically, take a teen book and leave it in a public place for someone to find, take home and enjoy.  What better way to spread a love of reading (and Steampunk.)  Details here.  If you rock the drop steampunk style, please email me pictures!  If I get at least FIFTEEN pictures TODAY, I will give away my authographed galley of Gail Carriger’s HEARTLESS (which isn’t out yet, and aparently these babies are rare).  The galley will be given to one of the people who shared the love of reading by “rocking the drop.”  The winner will be chosen by the tot.   But I need at least fifteen enteries, so tell your friends.  Since there’s not a ton of Steampunk YA/MG, any Steampunk book will work, open internationally.   You don’t have to live in the US to spread the love of reading.  In fact, there may be an extra prize for furthest drop…

Today we welcome author Mike ResnickThe Buntline Special is out from Pyr now.  We’re also giving away three copies. 

Mike Resnick has won an impressive five Hugos and been nominated for twenty-nine more. He has sold sixty-three novels and more than two hundred short stories. He has edited fifty anthologies. His work spans from satirical fair such as his Lucifer Jones adventures, to weighty examinations of morality and culture, as evidenced by his brilliant tales of Kirinyaga—which, with 67 major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honored series of stories in the history of science fiction. Visit him at www.mikeresnick.com .


Writing the Weird West

 by Mike Resnick

   I had sold more than 60 science fiction novels and 250 short stories, but I had never written any steampunk when Lou Anders, my editor at Pyr, asked me to do a Weird Western with steampunk overtones back in late 2009.

          All my adult life I had wanted to write a novel about Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, bitter rivals who happened to be the only two college-educated gunslingers in the West (Ringo majored in the classics, Holliday minored in them), and while this wasn’t quite the novel I’d had in mind, I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about them in The Buntline Special.

          But of course, nothing about Holliday and Ringo was the least bit steampunkish. (By the way, I’m using the word “steampunk” because that’s the accepted term. I don’t think I agree with it, since any punk who shows up in a Resnick story dies young and unmourned.)

          So I needed a justification to insert the steampunk elements, and since this was a Weird Western, as much fantasy as science fiction, I came up with the premise that the United States as a nation stops at the Mississippi River in 1881, its western expansion halted by the magical power of the Indian medicine men.

          Who would the United States government turn to in order to come up with some methodology to combat the magic? Given the dates of his major breakthroughs, it had to be Thomas Alva Edison.     

          So I moved Edison out to Tombstone, Arizona in 1880 at government expense. Then I asked myself: what would Tombstone look like after he’d been there for awhile?

          Well, for one thing, the streets would be illuminated by electric lights as night. So would the houses, the saloons, the dance halls, and just about everything else. But what else would Tom – he’d never be called “Thomas” in a town like Tombstone – do?

          Well, for one thing, most of my principals lived by their weapons. Historically Ned Buntline commissioned the Colt Company to make the Buntline Special – but with a genius like Edison out there, why wouldn’t he go to Tom instead? After all, a Colt pistol, even with the 12-inch barrel Buntline ordered, just fires bullets. But what could an electrical genius design in the way of a hand weapon?

          Then there would be primitive (by our standards) but wildly advanced (for 1880) security systems. Step on a porch that was properly wired and a cowboy or gunman would set off alarm. And Tom did a lot of work with photography in the 1870s, so he’d probably add a hidden camera or two that would be activated by an electrical impulse caused when an unwanted visitor put his weight on a hidden wire.

          The days of Billy the Kid or Doc Holliday being broken out of jail by their confederates would be relegated to works of fiction. Tom would rig an electric charge into the metal bars of the jail. Try to free your criminal cohort and you’d still have one hand left to sign your name.

          Because this was a work of imaginative fiction, I felt I could get just a little far-fetched and esoteric, having Tom design some very lifelike and functional prosthetic limbs, since many arm and leg wounds required amputation at that time — and eventually he designs some fully functional robotic prostitutes, which lead to some moral (but non-electronic) dilemmas.

          He’d have to team up with someone who could construct a horseless stagecoach to his specifications, but Tom certainly was enough of an electrical genius to create a motor to power one once it was built.

          More? There’d be electrified wires around a corral to give cattle or horses a mild shock if they tried to get out. (I had the same thing when my daughter had a horse while she was growing up.  One little jolt and he learned instantly.)

          Because this was a novel about Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, I never got into the wonders Tom could bring to the frontier kitchen of the 1880s, but there’s no question that he would have revolutionized it. The photograph was a fait accompli, and so was the phonograph, so there was no need to expand upon them. Ditto his very early work with the fluroscope.

          Because steampunk seems to require a lot of brass to appeal to its readership, I had Tom form a partnership with Ned Buntline, who historically was just a self-promoting dime novel writer and publicist, but in this universe has created a form of super-hardened and impenetrable brass, and brought many of Tom’s creations off the drawing board and into actual physical being. And having changed Buntline’s occupation, I had Tom design lightweight body armor for Doc and the Earps before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which Ned then created.

          Nothing except the robots was extrapolated that wasn’t at least theoretically possible, given the amazing Mr. Edison’s historical accomplishments, and it gave a very different and steampunkish flavor to a town that has lived a lot longer in fact and in legend than any of the participants could have imagined.

— Mike Resnick


We have three copies of The Buntline Special to give away to three lucky posters (open internatually).  What component of the Wild West would you like to see most in a Weird West story?

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You may think you’ve never read a Steampunk book or seen a Steampunk movie, but there’s a good chance you have. Find out more about Steampunk. It’s been around. You may even be WRITING IT!2509601257_24429a39c9

230111411STEAMPUNK is defined by Wikipedia as “subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominenece in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. These include works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used – usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era London – but with elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.”

Steampunk Fiction focuses on real or theoretical Victorian-era technology, and includes steam engines, clockwork devices, and difference engines. The genre has expanded into medieval settings and often dips into the realms of horror and fantasy. Secret societies and conspiracy theories are often featured, and some steampunk includes fantasy elements. These may include Lovecraftian, occult and Gothic horror influences. Another common setting is “Western Steampunk” (also known as Weird West), a science fictionalized American Western.

Historical Steampunk Fiction usually leans more toward science fiction than fantasy, but a number of historical steampunk stories incorporate magical elements. For example, Morlock Nights by K.W. Jeter (who invented the term Steampunk) revolves around an attempt by the wizard Merlin to raise King Arthur in order to save the Britain of 1892 from an invasion of Morlocks from the future. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers involves a group of magicians who try to raise ancient Egyptian Gods in an attempt to drive the British out of Egypt in the early 19th century.

Fantasy Steampunk Fiction Since the 1990s, the steampunk label has gone beyond works set in recognizable historical periods (usually the 19th century) to works set in fantasy worlds that rely heavily on steam- or spring-powered technology. 

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