In Brief: Mike Resnick’s The Buntline Special is a steampunk alternate Western with fantastic trappings. That’s a lot of genre-melding. Familiar events in Tombstone proceed down a different path amidst shamanic magic and alternate Tom Edison’s inventions.
Pros: Resnick is a master of dialogue and a student of the real history of the West. The characters are so familiar (based on real people we know from history and other media), and its fun to see them reimagined within this setting.
Cons: The dialogue-heavy and scene-by-scene style really stretches at times. The pace suffers as a result, and you may find yourself wondering if this story is a novella dressed in a short novel’s clothing.
Review: The Buntline Special is the first in a series of Weird West tales penned by legendary sci-fi writer, Mike Resnick (check him out). We’ve been reading Resnick since first discovering sci-fi novels and also enjoy his series of reflections with colleague Barry Malzberg on the state of business and writing in the speculative fiction world. So a Weird West series, with obvious steampunk and fantasy element (just look at the cover), written by a great sci-fi author… We’re in.
Mostly, it’s a fun read that goes quickly. Mostly, it works. Here we are in Tombstone, Arizona. The Earp brothers are feuding with the Cowboys, led by the McLaury brothers. Wyatt Earp has sent for Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. Sound like any one of many familiar movies? Tombstone is the one that plays in my head here.