Westward Weird, edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know*. 302 pages, paperback. Anthology/Stand-alone.
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
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