Available for pre-order!
The West has never been wilder… as a veteran of the 2011 & 2012 NecronomiCon, we’ve noticed the enduring fascination with fans in all that is Steampunk. Strange, in that said genre really doesn’t have a flagship franchise such as a Trek or Star Wars. Or at least, not yet.
That’s not, however, for a lack of great ideas out there. This week’s review presents the third installment of one such possibility, The Doctor & the Rough Rider by Mike Resnick. Out in December from Pyr Books, The Doctor & the Rough Rider is the further adventures of Doc Holiday and friends (& enemies!) in an alternate history weird west tale. Fans of this space will remember our action-packed reviews of book one, The Buntline Special, and book 2, The Doctor & the Kid.
In this alternate western tale, the magic of the Indian medicine men led by Geronimo has kept expansion of the United States post-Civil War east of the Mississippi River. To this end, Thomas Edison has been enlisted to fight the magic with science and has moved westward to keep the residents of Tombstone, Arizona supplied with electric lights, mechanical prostitutes, and more. And of course, he keeps hard-drinking Doc Holiday supplied with a steady stream of high-tech weaponry.
The Doctor & the Rough Rider may also represent the steampunk debut of Teddy Roosevelt, the “rough rider” in the title. (Doubtless that some astute student of alternate science fiction histories will prove me wrong!) Although fantasy, the Mike Resnick series does follow some factual historical tales and has several Appendices to this end… I wonder what the effect of Edison leaving New York would have been? And a steampunk-powered showdown between Edison and Tesla, now THAT we’d like to see…
And speaking of show-downs, The Doctor & the Rough Rider revolves around a climatic showdown between our western heroes and War Bonnet, an apparition conjured as a sum result by the medicine men of the southwest. Believe me, “War Bonnet” is more formidable than his name would suggest!
The Weird West Tales series by Mike Resnick has been a fun read and is great for those who perhaps like their Spaghetti Westerns with a dash of science fiction thrown in. With the success of such films as Cowboys & Aliens, perhaps the age of the Steampunk fantasy series is close at hand, over two decades after William Gibson published his landmark story The Difference Engine and gave birth to yet another genre. (Remember Cyberpunk?) Still, the potential for the series is as broad as the tall tales of the West themselves. Think of The Doctor & the Rough Rider as Zane Grey written by Asimov in a world that never was!
Next week; Its almost here… Black Friday means X-Mas shopping madness, and we’ll be doing our yearly round-up in the latest and greatest in 2013 Astronomy Calendars!