This anthology is an alternate history/fantasy/science fiction presentation of tales of the Old West. Well, except when the Old West is actually a colony on Mars (go read L Neil Smith's Pallas). Or when there is a crystal cave with time traveling powers. But hey, I can roll with the general theme. Like most anthologies, there were really good and only mediocre stories collected together.
The back of the book did a pretty good job describing it. While there is an Old West theme going on here, nearly no one stuck to a particular formula. There are old gods, aliens, little people, clockwork horses, sentient mold, and Mars big-brand claim jumpers. And that is above and beyond the talking mice, snake-haired train conductors, and the odd werewolf or two. And believe me, they are odd.
As far as I recall, I've only ever met three of the thirteen authors before (Lake, McGuire, Nye) so it was nice to read some new voices. I'm not a big fan of steampunk, but found the "Clockwork Cowboy" story to be so perfectly fit to the short-western-story formula that I probably liked it the best. It was a "real" western, in the L'Amour and Brand kind of way. Everything else was just a modern story on a theme. My second favorite was the opening story, "The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen," partially for the story and partially for the voice of the narrator.
I picked it up because it has the prequel short story "The Flower of Arizona" to Seanan McGuire's new novel Discount Armageddon.
I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed odd collections of short stories and likes steampunk, or likes stories about the good/smart/little guy (gal!) triumphing over evil, with some sacrifices to go along with that.
* This is where the old term "speculative fiction" really applies. There is no single modern category for this book.
New-to-me Books for 2012
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Shadow Ops: Control Point, by Myke Cole. Urban Fantasy... sort of... 382 pages. Paperback, first in the series. [4/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy. 672 pages. Paperback; first in the series.[4/5 on Goodreads] Borrowed.
Westward Weird edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know. 302 pages, paperback. Anthology. Giveawaybox.