Posts Tagged ‘Dead Man’s Hand’

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Unexpected napping from my son meant unscheduled reading for me! Continuing the weird west bonanza, I chose to read Hugh Howey’s offering to the anthology. As a big fan of his Wool series, I wasn’t disappointed as his short story is a strangely poetic mystery told from the perspective of an itinerant soldier.

Having been on the losing side in the American Civil War and now signed up with his former enemies, Howey’s protagonist finds himself deep in unfamiliar and unforgiving territory. After a scout goes bonkers and returns to camp on a killing spree, things go from bad to strange.

The tale is wonderfully written as it explores one man’s curiosity and the odd yet enticing path it leads down. Howey has crafted a fascinating story that will stay with you long after you’ve read Hell From The East.

Rajan Khanna’s Second Hand is less mystic and more action packed magic. Kicking off in a saloon with a card game, things soon heat up as the two main characters get caught cheating. But it’s cheating by magic and it’s a system that is very cool.

It’s all about the Cards, the Play and the Game. A magic deck which gives the owner four suits and some Jokers worth of spells. However, for Quentin Ketterly and his charge Hiram Tetch, there’s more to the Cards than they first thought. Deeper down the rabbit hole they go, the darker things become and they’re soon embroiled in murder and mystery. It’s a great, great story and a brilliantly crafted vision into a magical Western.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

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There’s always so many things to do but when I don’t read, things just don’t feel like they should. With that in mind, I got stuck in to Dead Mans Hand once again. Alastair Reynolds is a favourite author of mine and it was exciting to read his take on the weird west. Wrecking Party kicks off with a description as Wild West as they come but it’s not long before that tale takes a mighty swerve in the weird direction.

Marshal Bill is just trying to keep the peace when a bedraggled drunk starts smashing up the local hoodlums ‘horseless carriage’. Turns out that Bill knows this vandal from the days gone by and the reasons for his destructive streak is both unbelievable but also undeniable. Reynolds’ grasp on his characters is faultless and the atmosphere of a Western is powerful, allowing the story that unfolds to seem as fantastical as it should to a mind unused to machines and technology.

Wrecking Machine is almost like a precursor to the terror of Skynet in Terminator, telling of the inevitable rise of the machine. Yet, it is done so subtly and with such impeccable design that it’s a story that will stick with you. The final little salute to the story and it’s narrator brought a smile to my face, reinforcing Reynolds’ skill as a storyteller and this tale as one of my favourite shorts from the anthology by far.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

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You may have noticed that I’ve not blogged for a while. A lack of internet meant the kindle was out of commission and the tower of boxes stumped any attempt at finding a decent book to read. However, we are back on line and, more importantly, back reading!

I’ve been looking forward to reading some shorts from John Joseph Adams’ anthology so I started at the beginning with Joe R. Lansdale’s The Red-Head Dead. Considered the initiator of the Weird West sub-genre, I was hoping for a tale of epic proportions. What Lansdale offered was a pretty straightforward slice from his Reverend Mercer world. I expect it would mean a lot more to readers versed in that world but, for me, it was a little too linear.

The Reverend clearly has an odd relationship with a god who takes pleasure in causing chaos as a sporting spectacle. That said, he succeeded in the task he was set, driving the evil back into the grave and awaiting his next dangerous mission.

Mike Resnick’s The Hell-Bound Stagecoach was a little more of what I was expecting. An ensemble of hard bitten, dust covered cowboys mixed up with a devilish coach bound to hell. With just the right amount of vernacular thrown in and a lady in need of saving from Satan’s own claws, the gunslingers find it in themselves to make a stand for what is right.

Resnick has a great cast of characters who fit the bill of a Western perfectly. It’s also fairly amusing how all three killers accept and adapt to their fate so quickly. Banding together to protect Miss Abigail, a baker of some repute, I still can’t decide if it was the ‘victuals’ she provided or their sense of justice that had them take the demon coach driver to task.

But, all in all, a thoroughly entertaining yarn. I’ll definitely be dipping into this anthology more over the week ahead.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

Part of the reason my reading has been sporadic of late has been due to moving house – and country… So, all my books, new and old, are now in several towering columns of boxes. Thankfully my wife provided us with a kindle so that we can continue to indulge in one of our favourite past times.

Just as thankfully, I received some great looking ebooks recently. First up is Rogues , an anthology from the great minds of George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois.

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If youre a fan of fiction that is more than just black and white, this latest story collection from #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois is filled with subtle shades of gray. Twenty-one all-original stories, by an all-star list of contributors, will delight and astonish you in equal measure with their cunning twists and dazzling reversals. And George R. R. Martin himself offers a brand-new A Game of Thrones tale chronicling one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of Ice and Fire.

Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heartand yet leave you all the richer for it.

Next up is Dead Man’s Hand , an anthology of weird west tales that I’m very keen to delve into as the cover alone looks awesome, never mind the listed authors.

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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, creator of Cowboys & Aliens.

Other contributors include Tobias Buckell, David Farland, Alan Dean Foster, Jeffrey Ford, Laura Anne Gilman, Rajan Khanna, Mike Resnick, Beth Revis, Ben H. Winters, Christie Yant, and Charles Yu.

Finally, and continuing their awesome run of anthologies is another collection from Solaris. Dangerous Games has an interesting sounding premise, one I want to explore very soon.

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Edited by critically acclaimed Editor Jonathan Oliver with an incredible range of authors that includes Hugo award-winners, bestsellers and exciting new talents, Dangerous Games is out December 2014.

Featuring tales of the deadly, the macabre and the strange, Dangerous Games continues Oliver’s journey as the rising star of short form fiction, bringing together a highly original collection of new tales that take a slanted look at the world of gaming: from parlour games to role-play, the traditional to the futuristic.

As 18 authors sit down to play, the cards may be marked, and the dice are certainly loaded, but as Oliver states in his introduction “win or lose, Dangerous Games are always worth playing.”

The wonderful people at Titan books also emailed me some Terminator Salvation tie-in novels. As a huge fan of the films I’m definitely going to be checking these out soon as well. So, all in all, an email haul; expect reviews aplenty soon.