I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Westward Weird by Martin H. Greenberg, Kerrie L. Hughes
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy
Published by DAW on February 7, 2012
Source: my own shelves
Buy on Amazon
Thirteen short stories in the paranormal steampunk science fiction genre with a theme of the Old West.
Seanan McGuire’s “The Flower of Arizona” (Incryptid, 0.01)
Jay Lake’s “The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen”
It’s a cowboy who has little to lose but a lot of hope. Using third person protagonist point-of-view, McAllen blends saving the town and the surrounding prairie by palavering with Lucifer in the Devil’s own Kitchen.
It’s a good yet sad tale that results in some good.
Larry D. Sweazy’s “The Last Master of Aeronautical Winters”
Using first person protagonist point-of-view, Mr Lockwood and his bodyguard Raul Scarlato have suffered a “reversal of fortune” and need that money, ascending an unusual elevator that leads to an even more unusual town where their treasure lies.
It’s an intriguing story that kept me reading if only to discover the big deal, and Sweazy kept me flipping those pages to discover the why, the escape, and that nasty betrayal.
Anton Strout’s “Lowstone”
This was confusing as to who was who. Ya gotta keep reading to figure it out. I don’t know if Strout was trying to be enigmatic or what. It was, eventually, an interesting female heroine. You’ll especially enjoy this if you appreciate a gunfight. Against men and zombies.
Seanan McGuire’s “The Flower of Arizona”
Those Aeslin mice. I do adore them. They’re so excited by life, creating hymns and praising the Healys. In this instance, Jonathan is tracking a serial killer that appears to be part of a circus and discovers his bride.
It’s 1928 and Jonathan Healy of Michigan is a cryptozoologist hunting in Tempe, Arizona.
Frances Brown, a trick rider who’s good with knives, is the star, the Flower of Arizona, of the Campbell Family Circus, which is owned by Paul Campbell. Rabbit is Frannie’s horse. Bull is/was the strong man.
Brenda Cooper’s “The Ghost in the Doctor”
Phew, this one was a pip with a doctor who’s blessed and cursed by his skill being coopted by judgment. If it weren’t for how this screwed Julian’s life up, it could have been a righteous healing skill.
Christopher McKitterick’s “Surveyor of Mars”
This was confusing and horrifying. It took awhile before I really grasped that the story was set on Mars as an “Old West” settlement. McKitterick was all over the place imparting information. Of course, the greed of the Company is quite similar to other Western tales.
I hated this part, but what really ticked me off was Captain Grunwold only taking action against the settlers instead of the real bad guy. What’s with that?? Then there was all the whining John Mulberry did. Sure he had his heart in the right place, but it took McKitterick until the end before we finally found out why John took this attitude. Oy.
Steven Saus’ “Coyote, Spider, Bat”
I really don’t grasp the connection between time travel and the Indian avatars. Saus could have left that time “travel” schtick off. Another huge gap was how this “thing” managed to get from the port to Montana without a ruckus rising. I could also wish that Saus had made better connections between Coyote, Spider, and Bat. As for their purpose in this time? Who knows. I think Saus needs to go back and work on this one. It could be really good. It was sad too about Robert.
Dean Wesley Smith’s “Maybe Another Time”
This tale finds a young couple exploring his family inheritance, a gold mine with oddities. It’s a clever idea with even more clever conclusions — I’d be curious to try different timelines! But I would like to know how Brenda and Donnie Benson, using first person protagonist point-of-view, get back to 1870 in the first place and what triggered their desire to do research.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Renn and the Little Men”
It’s another tale of equality for women, although, it is possible that a man would have been banned as well. Anyway, it’s that unexpected visit by wee men that changes everything for Renn — you’ll find out later why she harps on her name, lol.
Jennifer Brozek’s “Showdown at High Moon”
This was definitely an odd tale and also involves a carnival and a battle between creatures of circuits and light and shapeshifters. It will require several rescues and a treasure, all of which we see through third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Mena’s and Will’s perspectives.
J. Steven York’s “The Clockwork Cowboy”
A sad tale about beings who require a refuge from the bigotry of the world until threats are issued and a couple of citizens step up.
York spends most of the story explaining about the steampunk beings, how they operate, their past histories, and why Calliope Springs is so valued. All told through first person protagonist point-of-view, from Liberty Brass’ perspective.
Jeff Mariotte’s “Black Train”
A weapon of mass destruction that could destroy the earth and revenge against family. It’s a complex story with assorted motives that begin with mountain lion attacks. Mariotte uses third person protagonist point-of-view from Evan’s perspective, a much more heroic character than Charlie!
Jody Lynn Nye’s “Lone Wolf”
A woman has gone missing and there’s a wolf out hunting in the night.
The Cover and Title
The cover combines Old West and steampunk with wooden saloon doors carved with the title with a black shadow outlining the letters in the top two and the bottom left door panels. The fourth panel details the editors’ names in black with a light wood back light. Behind the doors is a white robot holding a gun in his right hand and a brown cowboy hat on his head, looking off to the left. To the left of his head is an info blurb in white.
The title reflects the tales within, for they are all Westward Weird.