Posts Tagged ‘John Joseph Adams’

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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