Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Into the West

Some of you may have noticed a lot of Western books creeping into the blog lately and wondered if I've abandoned sword & sorcery for six guns and Stetsons. Nah, just one of my other interests pushing to the front for a bit. The two are related, though, because now that I've pretty much read and reread the classic S&S stuff, I'm having trouble finding much hard edged heroic fantasy these days. As a result I'm having to seek my action fix somewhere else. As I've talked about before, I'm not so much a fan of fantasy as a fan of adventure stories in fantasy settings. Unfortunately most of today's fantasy is failing to provide the adrenaline rush so I'm falling back on crime fiction, historical fiction and now, Westerns.
   I've always enjoyed Westerns. I grew up in the era when the Western was passing from popularity on television, replaced by cop shows and sitcoms. However the mass quantities of Westerns that had once ruled the airwaves had migrated to the land of syndication and it seemed that I was always watching Gunsmoke, The High Chaparral, The Big Valley, The Virginian, and my favorite, The Rifleman. And I saw every John Wayne of Clint Eastwood movie that came down the pike.
   Reading wise I didn't gravitate toward Westerns until the 1980s, when I noticed that a lot of my favorite private eye and crime writers were also writing Westerns, so I sought out books by folks such as Loren D. Estleman, Bill Pronzini, Ed Gorman, and Robert J. Randisi. I also read a ton of Louis L'Amour novels.
   However the thing that recently brought the Western back to my attention was a comment by my friend Howard Andrew Jones about his reading Sundance and Fargo books. Howard, in turn had been pointed toward these action packed Westerns by John Hocking. These two series, written by Ben Haas under the pen name John Benteen had a lot of the same feel I got from the works of Robert E. Howard, no stranger to the Western himself. I have referred to Fargo before as Conan with a six gun, and I get that sort of ruthless but honorable vibe from Fargo that I get from Conan.
   Being me, though, one thing leads to another, and I began backtracking Haas and ended up at Western author James Reasoner's blog Rough Edges, which introduced me to a legion of current Western writers. So yeah, reading a bunch of Westerns now. Might try writing one soon too.
   Not to worry though. Halloween approaches and I'll soon be turning back toward the world of horror and weird tales. And I'm sure I'll be back to sword & sorcery too once I've recharged my batteries a bit.

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