Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All-Star Western Wraps Up Its Stay In Gotham

With issue #6 out, it looks like All-Star Western is finally leaving Gotham City.  It ends on an interesting twist, in which Jonah Hex emerges from a journey through a cave system below Gotham City to find stately Wayne Manor of Batman fame- Jonah Hex discovered the Batcave!  This cave system, by the way, was inhabited by child slavers, prehistoric barbarians, and giant flying bat gods.  Let me get this straight- the great grandparents of the world’s greatest detective (aka Batman) built a mansion on top of this crazy land of terror and never knew it?  I suspect there was an adoption somewhere along the lines, because intuition and deductive skills sure don’t run in that gene pool.

Next month All-Star Western picks up and moves to New Orleans to meet up with classic DC western heroes Nighthawk and Cinnamon.  Let’s hope Hex returns to form.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Celebrity Cowboy- Erotic Failures in Western Fiction

Early in my blogging career I wrote a post about eroticism in westerns.  It is one of my top ten most visited posts, although I suspect that is because there is a somewhat pornographic clip from the video game Darkwatch embedded, and not because of my erudite writing.  I still like looking for westerns that not only capture the primal feeling of making one’s way through a wilderness landscape, but also the primal feeling of warm bodies in a passionate embrace. 

I occasionally have a moment of weakness and look this type of writing by grabbing a cheap ebook from the Barnes & Noble Nook store.  I browsed through my Nook today and found one story called The Cowboy Celebrity by David Shaw.  I don’t recall when I bought this, or why, but I apparently laid out $2 of cold, hard electric cash for it.  It is a short story that features a Wild Bill double that meets two married women on a steamboat trip and entices them back to his cabin, ostensibly to have them “model” costumes for a new show.

“Sweet Jesus, Clara, your tits are so big a man could stake out a claim on them under the Homesteading Act.”

So-called erotic westerns are often filled with loose, groan-worthy analogies to historical western events, like the one above.  We are also usually treated to fascinating details of penis size, like this:

“Oh, God, Georgina,” Clara moaned in shock.  “It belongs in a cage!”

The two women spend most of the rest of book talking about how big the man is, and how worried they are about fitting it within their demure forms.  I’m assuming that at some point they try it out, but I gave up before that point. 

Surely there is a novel out there that is well written AND has engaging scenes of eroticism.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Joe Abercrombie- Fantasy Author's Take on Genre and Westerns

I’ve made a lot of grumpy comments over the last year about the failure of genre fiction, particularly the western genre.  As a fantasy reader I find the same true over in that neck of the bookshelf.  One writer that I have come to enjoy, Joe Abercrombie, seems to agree.  This is good news, as it looks like he is moving the timeline of his low fantasy (ie no dragons and little magic) First Law series up a couple centuries of technology to “combine fantasy with some western influences. Expect narrowed eyes, expansive skies, tough one-liners, and lots of dust...”

Can’t wait to read that one.  Below are Abercrombie’s thoughts on breaking genre fiction loose from its shackles.

Epic fantasy. It’s all the same, no?

There’s a grumpy wizard, a deadly barbarian, a jumped-up nobleman and some feisty girl, more than likely. They’re all engaged in a mysterious quest to bring that from there, and they’re all made out of cardboard. Probably there’s a dark lord of some kind involved. They talk like extras from a bad soap opera. They fight like extras from a bad cop show. Probably there’s a prophecy, and a farmboy with mysterious parentage, and if not a magic tower, then certainly a strange tall building of some kind. There’ll be battles, there’ll be intrigue, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a magic sword came up somewhere along the way.

I don’t need to read that again.

I want to read a fantasy with all the grit, and cruelty, and humour of real life. Where good and evil are a matter of where you stand, just like in the real world. I want dialogue that actually sounds like people talking, and action that actually feels like people fighting. I want magic and adventure, sure, but I want it to hurt. I want blood, sweat, and tears, and plenty of them. I want to read about characters as selfish, as flawed, as complicated, and as unpredictable as real people. I want a fantasy that can shock and surprise, amuse and horrify, delight and excite me, all at once.

I spent a long time looking, and I couldn’t find a set of books quite like that. So I thought I’d write some.

You like your fantasy with the edges left on?

Try The First Law.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quickshots- Peter Brandvold’s The Devil’s Winchester

There’s an irony that I write a quickshots on The Devil’s Winchester, since it has taken me over a year to read it.  I normally gobble up new books from Peter Brandvold’s Lou Prophet: Bounty Hunter series fast, as it is a quick, funny, and action packed set of novels. This one was barely interesting, and it was only memories of other, better books by Brandvold that kept me reading.   The Devil’s Winchester had none of the humor or character development we are used to seeing in the series.  Along about page 170 you see why, when Brandvold and editors slip up and call Lou Prophet by the name Longarm instead.  The Devil’s Winchester is at least partially lifted out of work intended for the Longarm series, and it shows that Brandvold is writing in a genericized housename style rather than in his own voice.  If my math is right this was the eighth book in the series, but the first disappointment.  Based on the past work I’ll definitely pick up the next book in the series, but I hope it really will be a Lou Prophet book, and not Longarm with a different name.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Django Unchained- Tarantino’s New Western

It looks like Quentin Tarantino, the master directors of racial tension and over the top violence, is wrapping up a new western, Django Unchained.  Filmed in Wyoming and New Orleans, it stars Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Sam Jackson.  Expect lots of use of the F-bomb and N-word between scalpings when it opens Christmas Day 2012.