The weird western is a genre-bending and defying area of books that blends the swagger of a classic western novel with the imagination of a fantasy or science fiction book. Pop culture-wise, the weird western reminds me of Malcome Reynolds from Firefly. He was a six-shot revolver-toting man without a home who roamed the universe instead of the deserts of the west US. Firefly is a bit on the proverbial nose when describing a Weird Western. Books from this genre don’t necessarily need someone toting a revolver.
Instead, the books have an overall feel of the wild west mythos.
Sarah Chorn’s Of Honey and Wildfires combines aspects of the old west: railroads, horses, outlaws, and mining with Shine. A substance that flows from the Earth that is a blessing as much as a curse.
Stephen King’s The Gunslinger is arguably said to have kicked off the weird west genre. It is about a man named Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger. “He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake.”
The Gunslinger also has one of the most evocative opening lines of any novel I have read. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow by Rachel Aaron is described as “Deadwood meets The Lord of the Rings in this Epic Fantasy of the West!” And while The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow is not as dark as The Gunslinger, it is also steeped in the feeling of the wild west. It also includes crystals that sing and the incredible powers that the crystals have when harnessed.
His Ragged Company includes sand golems, shootouts, a town marshall, and a little backwater place called Blackpeak, Texas. “Hunted by a cadre of sandshades and hounded by sinister spellcraft, Elias Faust may be the only bag of skin defiant enough to keep Blackpeak from being destroyed. To outlast the Magnate’s disciples, he’ll need to shoot straighter, run faster, and live longer…even if it means sacrificing a part of himself to do just that.”
Bloodrush by fantasy author Ben Galley takes place in a weird western fantasy set in an alternate 1867. A “dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger and the railway.” It includes magic, Faeries, things that bite, and a boy trying to survive.