‘Straight Out of Deadwood’ Book Review By Ron Fortier

STRAIGHT OUT OF DEADWOOD
Edited by David Boop
Baen Books
265 pgs

All too often we’ve heard literary types bemoan the fact that the art of writing short stories is dead in America. Now that is geared to the fact that many of the classic slicks like Saturday Evening Post and others of such renown are no longer in existence. And yet it is in the field of New Pulp that we find short stories are not only alive but flourishing thanks to a new generation of talented young writers.

One genre in particular exemplifies that fact and it is Weird Westerns. Recently writer/editor David Boop put together three good-sized weird westerns anthologies of which “Straight Out of Deadwood” is the latest. It contains 17 cautionary tales filled with suspense, horror and a good dose of sheer creepiness. We confess most of the writers in this collection were unknown to us, but after having read their stories, we certainly plan on searching out more of their fiction.

In a perfect world, all anthologies would have nothing but great stories. Alas, in our real world “Straight Out of Deadwood” runs the spectrum in quality from top to bottom. Among our personal favorites were Mike Resnick (a writer we are quite familiar with) “The Doctor and the Specter,” about Doc Holliday’s last words before dying. It’s a gem. Charlaine Harris’ “A Talk with My Mother,” has a marvelous O’Henry ending that had us chuckling. Derrick Ferguson’s well known Sebastian Red character shows up in “The Relay Station at Wrigley’s Pass” much to our delight. We were impressed with Marsheila Rockwell’s “Dreamcatcher.” Honorable mentions for pure scary stuff goes to Betsy Dornbucsh’s “The Petrified Man” and Travis Heerman’s “Blood Lust and Gold Dust.”

The remaining entries were so-so, with one absurdly morbid to the point of being disgusting. As we stated at the offset, anthologies generally are a mixed bag. Overall, because there were more winners than clunkers and so we gladly recommend you pick this one up.

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