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.
Published by Titan Books