Friday, October 10, 2014

Favorite Weird West and Steampunk Books by R.S. Belcher

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We have a guest-post by R.S. (Rod) Belcher today where he shares his favorite Weird West and Steampunk books.

And since his latest book is from this particular genre, perhaps readers would like to take a look at it. It’s The Shotgun Arcana - where we have a current giveaway on offer for the book (link on the previous text and it will tell you a bit more about this second stand-alone book in the series and you can enter the giveaway). In 2013 John also reviewed the first in the series, The Six-Gun Tarot (read his review by linking on the previous sentence).

In addition we have a previous guest-post where R.S. Belcher shares his thoughts on how and why he created the compelling setting that both The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana have in common (link on the previous text to read his previous post). Let’s welcome Rod!

It's good to be back! I love the wonderful folks at Layers of Thought. Thank you so much for letting me guest blog today. I'll try not to make a mess—but no promises!

My Golgotha novels (The Six-Gun Tarot and the recently released The Shotgun Arcana) are examples of the weird western genre. Weird westerns often “spoon” by the campfire with the steampunk genre since both play with similar eras in history and similar themes. Today Layers of Thought was kind enough to allow me to share some of my favorite Weird West and Steampunk books with you. Here are a few I would highly recommend.

The Shotgun Arcana - R.S. Belcher

1. Maplecroft by Cherie Priest: This new novel is not part of Priest's excellent, and very fun, Clockwork Century series (which I would also very much recommend) but it has historical murderess, Lizzie Bordon, battling against the creeping madness of Lovecraft's mythos. It was good, scary enjoyment.

2. The Thieftaker Chronicles by D.B. Jackson: David Coe, aka D.B. Jackson has created an alternate history of Boston on the eve of the Revolutionary War that feels wondrous and alien, with magic and supernatural doings - somewhat reminiscent to me of Howard's Solomon Kane, while still feeling like we are immersed in true American history. His protagonist, Ethan Kaille, is a remarkable heir and a fresh take on literary gumshoes. Go read these, you'll thank me for the heads-up.

3. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling: I think the steampunk movement owes a great deal to this novel. The plot is very similar to much of the cyberpunk work of Gibson and Sterling—a mysterious MacGuffin draws together desperate characters from many different socioeconomic strata, including street hustlers, criminals, mercenaries and intelligence operatives. It's all fresh though in a world where Babbage's Engine—the world's first historical computer—actually worked and the Information Age happened during the Industrial Revelation.

4. The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris: A steampunk mash-up of the X-Files and the Avengers (John Steed, thank you, not the Incredible Hulk...), this series has action, romance, adventure, cheeky humor and very cool protagonists in Agents Braun and Books.

5. The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick: I loved Resnick's space opera western, Santiago (which is another great read that I highly suggest you hunt down and a great example of the western transplanted to very good effect into a different genre). This book is chock-full-o-weirdness— Edison and Ned Buntline as business partners, a tiny desert town full of horseless carriages, desperados and steampunk sex robots. High, weird fun!

6. Territory by Emma Bull: Emma Bull's tale of a mystic Tombstone and a battle between dark magicians set to the machinations of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. Some of the period details are exquisite and gave a feeling of solid history married to the fantastic.

7. Joe Lansdale's Jonah Hex comics: Joe Lansdale is king of the weird western. From the freaky surreal Bubba-Ho-Tep novella that became the movie we all love, to my personal favorite novel, Deadman's Road, Lansdale has a mastered the gritty sensibilities of isolation and autonomy that make the western such a great fit for horror and dark fantasy. His work at DC Comics with the character of Jonah Hex, the quintessential weird western gunman, is great stuff! Most of his work with Hex is now in trade paperback graphic novels and I urge you to give them a read if weird western and horror are your cup of sarsaparilla.

R. S. (ROD) BELCHER is an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor, reporter, and the author of the highly acclaimed The Six-Gun Tarot and the upcoming The Shotgun Arcana. He has been a freelance writer for over a decade, and has written for local, state and international publications.

Belcher has been a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book and game store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has done Masters work on a degree in Forensic Science at The George Washington University, as well as worked with the Occult Crime Taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly’s State Crime Commission.

He was the Grand Prize winner of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Anthology contest. His short story “Orphans” was published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 9 published by Simon and Schuster in 2006.

His story, “Hollow Moments” is featured in the horror anthology Deep Cuts published by Evil Jester Press in 2013.


Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

These sound fun! Some of them would make great Halloween picks. But, I'm liking the idea of The Difference Engine at the moment. I was so excited to see Babbage's machine at the Science Museum in London!

Unknown said...

Hi Joy -
Yes I am sure Tor decided to publish RS Belcher's book close to Halloween because of its darker aspects. And his choices for favorites are a bit dark too. Perfect for the season.

I like that I learn something new almost everyday blogging and had not heard of Babbage's Engine until I saw it in this post.

So now you've given me/us someplace that I'm interested in visiting - the Science Museum in London. Will have to do some research on that.

Thanks for commenting Joy!

Galdrin said...

Wow - I'm 6 for 7 (I don't have the patience for comics.) I guess I have pretty good taste.

Unknown said...

Hi Galdrin -
That's pretty impressive 6 out of 7. You should try comics... John loved - Watchmen. His only five star review for the blog.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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