Weird West stories are, in a nutshell, super wild fun. “Weird West” is basically like it sounds: Western stories mixed with weird, strange, and bizarre characters, settings, and situations. When you encounter a Western blended with science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, or horror, you’ve got a Weird West tale on your hands.
While this subgenre extends back to the history of pulp magazines, DC Comics’ Weird Western Tales was an early pioneer of such stories in the 1970s. In the early nineties, author Joe R. Lansdale (you may know him from the 2002 film Bubba Ho-Tep, which was based on one of his stories) further cemented the concept in books by mixing Westerns with elements such as zombies, splatterpunk, and alternate history. One of his stories is the aptly named Zeppelins West.
Since then, Weird West has expanded to other mediums. Television examples include The Wild, Wild West; The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.; and even an episode of Supernatural (“Frontierland,” 2011). Graphic novels are loaded with these types of stories, including Doc Frankenstein, Jonah Hex, and Phantom Rider.
Films are a great place to find Weird West tales. Cowboys and Aliens is the most recent blockbuster example. One gem in particular I discovered is The Good, The Bad, the Weird (2008), which features a South Korean spin on the subgenre. Despite 1999’s Wild Wild West (starring Will Smith) being a less than stellar movie, it’s a quintessential Weird West story. Case in point: the villain’s steam-powered wheelchair sprouts mechanical legs!
But there’s more. The steampunk romance genre also has its share of Weird West offerings. I’d tag Nico Rosso’s Nights of Fire and Nights of Steel as Weird West given the presence of mechanical horses, monster mining machines, and airships. Sheryl Nantus gave us Wild Cards and Iron Horses, another steampunk romance with a distinct Weird West setting. In Dreamspell Steampunk, Volume 1, there’s a story by Pauline Baird Jones called Steam Time featuring some pretty awesome automatons!
Taken together, the Weird West tales in all of the various mediums are pretty substantial. So when it came time for me to shape the setting of Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts, my own Western-based steampunk romance from Lyrical Press, I had many sources of inspiration to draw upon. If the Western film True Grit got steampunk’d, Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts would be the result.
I love Westerns and couldn’t resist re-imagining Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name character as an automaton gunslinger. I love horror, so the story’s villain, the Iron Scorpion, had to be chilling and disturbing. Steampunk’s fantastical nature also made its way into the story, namely in the form of the heroine’s weapon of choice, a powerful steam gun of her own making.
I also set out to subvert a few things. Weird West tales aren’t usually known for their female protagonists. Therefore, I sensed an opportunity to entertain readers with a smart, capable heroine who gets an equal share of the action. As for the hero? Well, I should leave a few surprises for you!
I hope you enjoyed learning about all the wild and wonderful ways Weird West stories can entertain you. Hit me up with any Weird West encounters you’ve had in books, film, or television.
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Now for the blurb:
The West just got a whole lot wilder.
A woman on a mission... Scientific achievement isn't enough for Violet Whitcomb. Life working alongside her renowned scientist father is filled with intellectual challenges, but what she truly craves is love and adventure. She’s resigned to a fate of academic pursuits…until a fateful trip across the American frontier changes everything. A rogue inventor known as the Iron Scorpion kidnaps Violet's father and she alone is left to plan his rescue.
A man with a secret... Logan McCoy knows firsthand going up against the Iron Scorpion is suicide, but he can't let Violet waltz into the villain's lair alone. She may be a stranger, but she's also the most compelling woman he's ever known.
A perilous quest... Their attraction is undeniable, but their alliance turns contentious when Violet insists on including a third partner on their mission: her father's latest invention and the world's most advanced automaton, Arthur. The reason for Logan's resistance isn't clear until Violet comes face-to-face with the Iron Scorpion's diabolical devices, and by then, it's far too late.
About the author
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express.
She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit www.heathermassey.com.