Friday, September 2, 2011

Top 5 wild, weird Western crossovers

List by Danielle

"The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say."
~ The first line of 'The knife of never letting go', by Patrick Ness

Wikipedia goes into loving detail about some of the newfangled flavours of Western out there, from the Weird West or Science Fiction Western (which seems to have a more historical setting, albeit one that plays fabulously fast and loose with real history, see 'Cowboys vs Aliens' or Cherie Priest's award-winning steampunk westerns) to the Space Western, in my heart always associated with by Joss Whedon's wonderful (and forever shiny!) 'Firefly' and 'Serenity'. Okay, the boundaries of these sub-genres are as fluid and fiddly as most genre distinctions seem to be, but the lists of films, TV, graphic novels and books cited show that there's some exciting storytelling to be exploring, out on the frontiers.

Honourable mentions:

- Tosca's recently read and enjoyed Gemma Files' A book of tongues, with it's new sequel A rope of thorns (The Hexslinger series, Fantasy Western with a big dollop of horror)
- Cherie Priest's steampunk pulp Westerns, Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnought
- Jonah Hex - the movie and the graphic novels
- Rapunzel's revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale, a junior graphic novel that places the old fairytale in a Western setting
- Michael D Resnick's The Buntline special: a weird west tale

The knife of never letting go / Patrick Ness
Pursued by power-hungry Prentiss and mad minister Aaron, young Todd and Viola set out across New World searching for answers about his colony's true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers from Old World.

Book 1 of the YA trilogy Chaos walking. I've just finished this, after hearing recommendations from many other readers. It moves slowly, but it packs a punch, and one scene in particular left me tearing up in the lunchroom... as with 'The reapers are the angels' below, the author is great at creating a small core cast that you ache for in their struggles, and root for when it looks like they might have some type of victory, no matter how small.

The reapers are the angels: a novel / Alden Bell
Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free. For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

I've included this philosophical and mournful zombie novel on a recent zombie list, too, because Temple's story really stayed with me long after reading it. The tone of the novel is sombre and spare, with moments of brutal violence - be warned - but moments of precious grace, as well.

The Dark Tower series / Stephen King
Roland, the world's last gunslinger, tracks an enigmatic Man in Black toward a forbidding dark tower, fighting forces both mortal and other-worldly on his quest.

Most particular faves: Book 2, The drawing of the three, where the lone gunslinger finds himself some flawed but noble-hearted companions, and Book 5, Wolves of the Calla, where in true Western fashion, the gunslingers teach a town of desperate folk to fight back against the bad guys who are carrying off and destroying their children. The series has its flaws, but it also has a lot of moments of pure, crazy magic (including a wild and sinister transplantation of some of the characters from the Wizard of Oz).

Firefly (TV series) and Serenity (movie)
Five hundred years in the future there's a whole new frontier, and the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity is eager to stake a claim on the action.

I'm a big Buffy fan, but even so, I'd have to say that for me, so far, Firefly represents the pinnacle of Joss Whedon's wonderful talents. The cast and crew were as awesome as can be, as well... though the series is only 14 short and perfectly-formed episodes long, it has spawned whole thriving web communities, and left us all with some amazing memories. Honestly, if I could find a way, I think I'd sneak Firefly onto just about every list I compile for this blog. (Except maybe co-worker Paul's threatened 'Top 5 terrible movie deaths that occur while on the toilet'... but only because I can't recall that happening anywhere on the show.)

Cowboy Bebop
Follows the crew of the spaceship Bebop--ex-gangster Spike Spiegel, ex-cop Jet Black, amnesiac Faye Valentine, genius child Ed, and the dog Ein--as their work as bounty hunters places them in the midst of a mafia battle.

Cowboy Bebop was one of the first anime series I ever watched all the way through, and it is a wonderful piece of work. Stylish - so very stylish - and managing to capture a perfect blend of humour and gravity. Bad pun not intended! It's so easy to care for the somewhat infuriating characters, and you travel with them on their journey, you hope hopes for them, and you really care about what happens. The jazz-inspired soundtracks accompanying the series are magic, too. Now - we don't have the series, and I totally recommend you track down the DVDs, but we do have some of the manga and we also have the movie, which will give you a small taste of the series.

1 comment:

Madhamster said...

Ummm... Star wars. I remember all these discussions about how it's just a Western in Space. And, the TV series / movie Wild West (which we don't have in our collection, worst luck).