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CROSSROADS: Westerns and Speculative Fiction


Amazing Stories LogoSo today is the first Thursday of March, which means it is time to kick off a new Crossroads series over at Amazing Stories.

This month, I’m going to be focusing on the relationship between Westerns and Speculative Fiction. There will be horses and spaceships, guns and swords and lasers, and plenty of riding into sunsets solar flares. This week’s post outlines the aesthetic dimensions of the western which I think are most relevant for speculative fiction and begins to examine whether the western’s commercial trajectory may be a valuable cautionary tale for speculative fiction.

I hope you stop by! Today’s post is: Crossroads: Riding into Space – Westerns and Speculative Fiction

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. I only remember the heyday of TV Westerns in the late 50s and 60s (The Lone Ranger, Cheyenne, Wagon Train, Rawhide, The Virginian etc) more than the pulp fiction of the late 19th century (I’m not that old, obviously!) but your thesis instinctively makes sense. Especially when Star Wars and its ilk appeared with their dismissal by some as merely Cowboys in Space.

    A European perspective such as mine wil have different motives, of course, for finding the Western appealing, but the reminder that the genre took off in the aftermath of the Civil War is one worth emphasising.

    March 10, 2013
    • Thanks! I’m glad that you found the essay interesting. Would you mind if I cross-posted your comment over to Amazing Stories, since I think it’d add an interesting perspective to the discussion there?

      As for the European perspective on the western, I’ve always been fascinated by the different approaches to the western genre in the US vs. those in Europe. Are you familiar at all with the work of Karl May? Or have you ever seen more of the “osterns/’red westerns'” (e.g. the Czech Lemonade Joe or the German Sons of the Red Bear)?

      I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate that European perspective into my series on speculative fiction’s relationship with the western, but here in the US they’re a little over-shadowed by the “traditional” western genre.

      March 10, 2013
      • Do feel free to cross-post!

        No, I’ve not been aware at all of osterns (nice neologism!) but I’m bound to now research the subject. Here in the UK we’ve tended to be, well, insular, figuratively as well as literally.

        March 10, 2013
  2. I should add that I can only recall the French bande desinée ‘Lucky Luke’ (from teenage visits to France) as a mainland European response to Westerns; no doubt there were others.

    March 10, 2013
  3. Westerns and all the “scenes” they create in our minds have quickly become a part of our culture. One of the main reasons they will always be an indeniable part of our culture is because they were there at the beginning of this new form of communication we call television. Even if people didn’t necessarily like westerns, they watched it because it was a representation of a new technology. Adapting the standards set by the westerns to a new environment will surely spell success.

    March 10, 2013

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