Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Whiskey and Wheelguns:Foreshadows: A collection of Tall Tales from the Weird West

Well, with the introduction of the KDP system, it was only a matter of time before more people began tapping into the rich vein of Weird West. And yeah, took me a little while to get around to finding some of it, sorry about that, but better late than never!
I just recently got finished reading this particular incarnation. Anyway, Whiskey and Wheelguns is an ongoing anthology series in which writers from all over contribute short stories about the Weird West. And good on them! This one has six different stories, ranging from meh to oh yes please let there be more!
You can purchase this incarnation right here: http://www.amazon.com/Whiskey-Wheelguns-Foreshadows-Collection-Tales-ebook/dp/B00JTK36A8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1422997419&sr=1-1&keywords=whiskey+and+wheelguns

All of these are basically movie intros that give you an idea of what is coming up later in larger works, hence the title saying Foreshadows.

First story is called Where the Devil Drinks by Alexander Nader. The basic premise is a pair of strange gents that give you the creeps are on the hunt... for an angel. I... don't know how to feel about that. Maybe it's just me, but the concept of an literal angel being in a Western gunfight just doesn't sit right with me. Take my opinion on that with a grain of salt. For what it's worth, the small piece is well written and is by no means bad. If I happen across more of it I'll give it a fair shake!

Second up is Watch the Line by Joriah Wood, and this one is a decent cowboys and zombies tale. And boy have those been coming out of the woodwork! Not that I dislike the concept, don't get me wrong. Anyway, it's a brief but decent tale at 1570 words, and is basically the climax of an entire fringe town being the victim of a zombie epidemic, and Joriah does a fair job of making it seem like some real crap went down here and is worth the read.
My only complaint is where the writer says this kid sets some shotgun shells down on a barrel, which got confusing when you have a barrel made of wood and has wheat in it, and then a barrel of metal and guides the path of a bullet. I'd have used the word 'keg' to help differentiate, but this is a very minor issue and doesn't do much to detract from what is in reality a fair scrawl.
It's also a part of another story Wood is doing, Five Lead Slugs which I just finished, and will write about in a later post.

Third up is Hair of the Dog by J. Edward Paul. This one is pretty fun, as we jump right into the midst of a weird western with vampires and werewolves. It's kind of like flipping through the channels on TV praying you'll find something to stave off boredom, when you happen upon a really awesome fight scene and you're immediately transfixed and want to know more. You might not know the back story or who these guys are, but you sure as heck wanna find out! We've got a fiesty young lady, her once ruggedly handsome husband turned into a blood sucking abomination (No, not a member of menimism) and a gal who doesn't take crap from no one. But you'd best not make her angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.
Action is well done and genuinely makes me want to find out more. That's always a good sign. :)
And it looks like there will be more with The Widow's Work in Barlow's Gulch. It has what looks like a pretty well thought out location. We'll see!

Fourth up is Big Roamer by Michael D. Woods. This one is a bit more vague in the back story, but it does feel like it's there as a marshal tracks down a criminal possessed of an otherworldly force that is wreaking havoc out in the wilds of the West, relying only on his own ingenuity and a strange wolf companion by the name of Dirk, which would normally seem cheesy to me but here it actually seems quite fitting.
This one deals more with shamanistic spirits and medicine and as far as I can tell does a decent job, although the writing style could be honed just a wee bit more. Overall a decent read and worth the ten minutes it takes to look it over.
It's also tied to the story Blood of Kin by the same writer, which I'll have to check out. It came out June 16 last year, so I'm overdue for a purchase!

Fifth is Dark as Night by John Weeast, where we witness a pack of chupacabras laying waste to a herd of cattle in a gristly feast. I'm a bit divided on this one, as it isn't really poorly written per se, but I think it could have gone through some rewrites. Some of the sentences don't seem to fit right or are a bit clunky, which is a shame because the author does seem to have some skill. Yeah, that's really the only issue I can think of, restructuring the sentences. If that gets done then Weeast ought to have a decent tale on his hands!
It ends with foreshadowing a posse trying to deal with this problem.
I'll see what In Darkness We Sleep has to offer in the near future. Hopefully the author can hone his craft and we'll see some fun stuff!

Last but certainly not least is Zarahemla and the Skinwalkers, which is the best of the bunch in my opinion. It is very well written and has a good balance of all the elements in terms of action, atmosphere, dialogue, setting, etc.
We see things from the point of view from a fellow named Henry who has teamed up with a mysterious man named Zarahamla Two Crows, and they have some hunting to do. Henry is just kind of an average Joe, but he serves as a good casual observer to contrast the impressive spectacle that Zarahamla is. This dude really does have the vibe of someone who has seen it all, done it all, and killed it all. This guy catches my interest and I wanna know more!
The author knows a thing or two about guns as well. Zarahamla actually has a pair of custom made Smith and Wesson revolvers chambered in the .577 Snider. Good grief! If you aren't a gun person, you have no clue how overpowered that combination that is. Mr. Two Crows must have hands like bear paws and a magical immunity to arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome! For some context, the .577 Snider was a British cartridge used in converted Snider rifles that was used for not only warfare but hunting as well, seeing a wide variety of use across African colonial territories and India, putting down everything from lions, tigers, buffalo, hostile natives, and other assorted things that can make your day unspeakably unpleasant. For craps sake, the Snider howdah pistol was a clunky monstrosity that was used for perforating tigers at high five distances!
Where was I? Oh, right! The story! Yes, although this piece is only 1670 words long, it feels longer, in a good way. We got a genuinely creepy showdown going as some skinwalkers that actually adhere somewhat closely to actual Native American lore come up and start causing some problems, which Zarahamla is poised to deal with. We get a sultry and devious gal who is up to dirty tricks, but as the guns start blasting and the blood starts spilling, she steals Henry's new baby, leaving him grief-stricken. He's not up to the challenge of saving his child from this witch... but Zarahamla is!
Sorry for salivating, but I really liked this bit. The book Zarahamla Two Crows was released last year in July, and I'd better pony up with my next paycheck and get myself a copy. If this intro was any indicator, this ought to be a devilishly fun romp!

I hope that this has been of some use to you Weird Westerners, and I'll be sure to review more in the near future. There's plenty more Whiskey and Wheelguns waiting for me to look at and a good number of other indy authors just waiting to be found. Until next time gents!
And in case any of you are wondering, Primal Frontier is coming VERY soon. Just gotta get the KDP set up and you'll get the first of the series before the end of the month. Woot! 

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