I read almost all genres. No rhyme or reason, anything that looks interesting. Sometimes, but not often and for limited periods, I’ll glom onto a genre, needing to get my hands on everything offered. Since I don’t specialize, sometimes I miss interesting trends. Like steampunk. As a kid I read a lot of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, which I thought was science fiction, but I guess with the emphasis on machinery, it’s actually steampunk. I cycled out of reading science fiction in the 1980s. Apparently that’s when steampunk made its resurgence. Here lately I’ve been reading a few paranormal and alternative history novels that qualify as steampunk. Books like Clay and Susan Griffith’s, The Greyfriar, which is a wonderful vampire novel and very romantic, and Larry Correia’s, Hard Magic, which is a gung ho, action packed adventure.
And then I discovered Mike Resnick’s, The Buntline Special.
Now I get it. This is what steampunk is all about. I’ve been missing out on not just a lot of fun, but an author I somehow overlooked for like… my whole life! He published his first work in 1962. Shees.
A quick recap: Tombstone, Arizona, 1881. Marshall Wyatt Earp, along with his brothers Morgan and Virgil, plus his good friends Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson, have to protect the lives of Ned Buntline and Thomas Edison while they try to invent machines that will counteract the heavy duty magic conjured by Geronimo and Hook Nose, powerful medicine men, that is preventing the United States from expanding beyond the Mississippi River. And oh yeah, gunslinger Johnny Ringo is a zombie.
It was fun, historically “accurate” given that it’s an alternative history, and even includes a few laugh out loud pleasures. Like this little gem:
Finally Buntline stood up. “There!” he said. “You’re as ready as I can make you.”
“Nobody asked me to join in,” said Holliday. “Maybe I’ll just sit out front, with my chest and my legs protected from mosquitoes.”
“Shut up, Doc!” said Kate. She turned to Buntline. “He thanks you, Ned. He’s like this when he’s just out of bed.”
“It’s all right,” said Buntline. “He’s my friend.”
He left the kitchen, walked through the parlor, and exited the house.
“We have to move to another town,” said Holliday. “I’ve got too many friends in this one. They’re starting to become a pain in the ass.”
So now I’m on the hunt for more steampunk and I have a whole lot of Mike Resnick reading to catch up on, too.