Review: Six-Guns Straight From Hell 2, ed. David B. Riley, 2014.
This weird western anthology isn’t as good as its predecessor, but it’s full of acceptably entertaining stories.
I didn’t say I remember the stories as being good.
I finished this book in November, and, when I went back to make my notes on them, I found only three that I remembered.
But I had a lot going on in my life then, so that may account for my memory deficiency. I do remember the book being acceptably diverting at the time.
So, let’s start with the ones that didn’t stick in my brain after five months.
Vivian Caethe’s “The Feast of Hungry Ghosts” features Pinkerton agent Beatrice Jones dispatched to Rock Springs, Wyoming in 1885. (Yes, Rock Springs is a real place, but I have no idea how much of the background is based in history.) Like a lot of Pinkerton work, there’s labor problems involved. To bust a strike of railroad workers, Chinese laborers are brought in, and the workers kill them. That’s where the hungry ghosts come in. The story is a bit predictable in stereotypes. Displaced union members, evidently, get no sympathy when replaced by foreign scabs. And Jones is helped by a local Taoist priestess. The story is a bit too long though Caethe does some interesting things with the ghosts at the end. Continue reading
I’ve read a lot of weird westerns lately. Most of them were, like this one, from Science Fiction Trails which seems to specialize in them.
Review: Gunslingers & Ghost Stories, ed. David B. Riley, 2012.
You get exactly what you would expect from the title: stories combining gunfighters and ghosts.
The majority of these 11 stories go past acceptable and into being memorable or well-done examples of typical ghost story motifs.
A couple of the standout stories were from series.
Joel Jenkins “Old Mother Hennessy” features his Indian bounty hunter Lone Crow. Here his partner is Six-Gun Susannah, a very quick draw with a gun if not a very good shot. In tracking down the vicious Hennessy boys to their mountain lair, they come across the graves of their victims. At the end of the trail is the beautiful and witch Mother Hennessy, the worst of the lot. As is usually the case in the Lone Crow series, Jenkins effectively mixes credible gunplay, magic, and characterization. Here Susannah pines away, in her unrequited love, for her partner.
Laura Givens “Chin Song Ping and the Hungry Ghosts” is a follow up to her “Chin Song Ping and the Fifty-Three Thieves”. Ping is a charming character given to romantic impulses and possessing equal parts of naivete, ignorance, and cunning. Here he gets involved hauling dynamite, and he and his partner camp for the night in the infamous Donner Pass. What better place to find hungry ghosts? And a band of Mexican bandits complicates things. Continue reading