I realize now, the problem coming up later that has to do with reading two similar short story collections at the same time - going back and forth between them - is that I won’t remember which collection was better. everything is going to merge together. but then again, I have not disliked a story yet, and my hazy feeling is that both collections are sort of evening out, in terms of number of stories that are (a) good, (b) great, or (c) beyond great. shoulda kept notes on the stories, I guess...but blame the optimist in me: if enjoyment level stays where it is, or spikes, well we’re looking at two 4-star collections, overall...at least. loving the Weird West!
Weird West Short Story “Quick Draw” Contest, Shootout # 1
’Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers’ by Larry Correia, in Straight Outta Tombstone - VERSUS - ‘The Red-Headed Dead’ by Joe R. Lansdale, in Dead Man’s Hand.
Winner of this “shootout”...Larry Correia!
Judge’s remarks: both stories were a hoot to read, with Lansdale’s “monster hunter” tale being simply too short to compete with Correia’s meatier, and similar, premise. Lansdale in fact comes off as the better writer, but I wouldn’t mind finding a Correia novel to try out, after this quick experience with Bubba Shackleford and Hannah Stone. Both stories have really made me happy that I’ve committed to not one but two Weird West collections, which I am forcing to compete with each other. This will bring about my first exposure to writing by Seanan McGuire, in Dead Man’s Hand, and will also bring me back to a favorite from my days of youth, Alan Dean Foster, in Straight Outta Tombstone.
May revisit the TV show The Wild Wild West sometime soon, and seek out Lansdale’s “pioneering” novel Dead in the West (1986).
This was a fun tale and new take on Detroit vampires. Definitely no cliched Detroit vamps in this story! This is definitely a comedy with plenty of sarcasm and snark. There’s also plenty of pop culture references, which usually added to the fun but sometimes I found a little too much. Just my personal taste there.
Peter Stone is a decent fellow who gets caught up in bigger, badder things. A vampire hunter who’s been turned into a vampire (Melissa) turns up in his life and the two reluctantly join forces to save the vampire nation of New Detroit from a self- hating vamp. Yep, all sorts of vamps in this story. Not everyone wants to be undead, even if the undead now have voting rights, can get night jobs, and have to pay taxes.
One aspect I really liked about this story was part of the set up. The vamps have been carefully working behind the scenes to make vampires palatable to humans through media. There’s the books, the movies, the plush toys, and the bobble heads. After a hundred or so years, the idea of friendly vampires isn’t all that odd to humans.
David (Peter’s thrall), Melissa, and Peter all have lively banter between them. I really liked that some of the joking was centered around bigotry. There’s so many anti-vampers out there (and Melissa used to be one). It reminded me a little of how True Blood used the anti-vamper hate talk to mirror real world hate talk. It was well done, often eliciting a laugh even as the story takes a jab at bigotry in general.
Part of the tale involves solving a murder and for that, Peter needs to involve his master, Thoth. While Peter is in charge around David and Melissa, he has to rein it in and be a little subservient to Thoth. It was nice to see that Peter has this flexibility and also situational awareness. This bodes well for how the character will grow with the series.
Then in steps Renaud, a former French Templar. He’s the Big Baddie of the tale and it’s going to take everything our heroes have to survive. I did find the second half of the tale more fun than the first half. There’s more action. All told, the story could have used a little more world building and little less pop culture. All told, 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Cary Hite gave a really good performance to this story. He had a great voice for Peter stone and his female voices were believable. I enjoyed his voice for Thoth and for Renaud as well. All character voices were distinct. There were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.