A Western that ain't quite right!
by Stephan Michael Loy
Nowadays, some readers see "western" and think, well, maybe not. But this ain't your daddy's western. Sure, it's got horses, outlaws, heroes, and six-guns, but BAD LANDS was conceived as that specialized form of fantasy/scifi called a "weird western." Think Cowboys and Aliens, Wild Wild West, Jonah Hex, and The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr. Though BAD LANDS fits into this pedigree, it runs over those predecessors with a runaway locomotive and a massive herd of spooked cattle. BAD LANDS is a western that runs the range of the distant past and the far-flung future, of science fiction and fantasy, of comedy and knuckle-biting action. It's a western that spans cultures and whole universes.
BAD LANDS. It ain't quite right, but ain't nothin' in it wrong.
THE SHORT OF IT:
Bad Lands. A western that ain't quite right. A federal marshal tracks a notorious bad man wanted for murder, mayhem, terrorism, and conspiracy to destroy the eighteen contiguous universes. The lawman's posse of inter-dimensional misfits must brave the weirdest of weird western enemies to save the multiverse from certain destruction. It's Blazing Saddles meets Wild Wild West. Take a gander, pard!
THE LONG OF IT:
Clayton Hostetter, US Marshal, makes his living rousting out range agitators, fence cutters, them that mutilate the cattle and make the circles in the crops, and general uncivilized folk. Just now, he's ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt himself to bring in Ehnrich Boehm, aka The Dark Man, the most ornery outlaw you ever did know. Wanted for murder, mayhem, terrorism, and conspiracy to destroy the eighteen contiguous universes (also blasphemy and vandalism), Boehm is truly a formidable bad man. He's wily, powerful, ruthless, and travels with a demon horse and a psychotic Yorkshire terrier. Such a foe is too much for even a federal marshal to handle, so Hostetter puts together a stalwart posse consisting of an inter-dimensional scientist who is a light projection from a dying universe, a ten-year-old boy who might be thirty, or sixty, or maybe forty, a frontier guide, and Bigfoot (yes, that Bigfoot). Hostetter and his gang track the Dark Man across the West, across dimensions, and to the very end of the multiverse, weathering motorcycle gangs, Wild Indians like you've never seen, and the dreaded Mini-skirted Zombie Ninja Japanese Schoolgirls with Laser Eyes and Apocalypse Panties. It's Blazing Saddles meets Wild, Wild West with a pinch of The Golden Compass and Harry and the Hendersons. It's the weird western to beat all weird westerns, and it's yours for a week's honest cowhand wages and a plate of beans. BAD LANDS. Part of the Nightwatch uber-series. Take a gander, pard!
MARSHAL CLAYTON HOSTETTER
A cantankerous dedicated lawman, a man of his times, which means racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic and naturally always right. But Marshal Hostetter, despite his 19th century mindset, is a man who can learn. He learns here, that it isn't wise to label people or put them "in their place" and that a man, even a tough one, can go farther with friends than he can without.
Scientist, inter-universal traveler, and the sole hope for her universe against the genocidal intent of the Dark Man. Sinfonee must overcome more than the laws of physics to find Hostetter and enlist his aid to save her world. She must also fight the near-crippling pitfalls of Aspberger's Syndrome compounded by obsessive-compulsive disorder and being a black woman in Jim Crow's America.
A ten-year-old boy snatched from his world and spread across all of them, Willie lives all times and places at all times and places. He is simultaneously little Willie, old Willie, middle-aged Willie and in-his-prime Willie. He's lived over a period of 150 years, sometimes older before he was younger. Make no sense? Of course not, not in our universe, but Willie is a being of the Bleed. He is universe-free.
A force of nature, that's how this 7-foot tall man-ape of cryptozoology would be described. Also as a time-traveling, rock-and-roll cultured, Jimi Hendrix fan monster about town. An old friend of Marshal Hostetter's, Bigfoot only reluctantly joins the fight against the Dark Man. He doesn't like violence, you see, even though he could snap a tree with his bare paws.
Click the PDF files below to enjoy the first four chapters of BAD LANDS. These excerpts introduce the basic conflict and the primary characters. No major spoilers. You will need a PDF reader such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. You can download Acrobat Reader here, for free.
Hostetter and Sinfonee find something bizarre out in the woods, plus Willie Dern, and the bad guys.
Hostetter and company meet Bigfoot. Also, the primary bad guy rides into the story for the first time.
Nothing speaks more to the worth of a book than the acclamations of those who’ve read it. Here are some of the comments offered by readers after their experience with BAD LANDS.
I used to watch reruns of the Wild Wild West on Sunday afternoons with my father when I was a kid. I didn't understand the adult themes, but the show was a western with science fiction elements and was easy to follow the main themes. I loved spending time with my dad and sharing something with him that he enjoyed. When I picked up Bad Lands -- it was like going down memory lane. There is a cowboy lead, and he's not perfect, but you grow to cheer for him each step of the way. Over the top villains your bag -- we have them plenty. Tragic death scenes -- here. Talking lamps - here. Rocky Road ice cream - here. But they fit the story. Although written in third person narrative, the writer steps outside the box and gives the narrator their own voice -- much like Bastion, the video game. The characters face robots, racism, time travel, Big Foot, scientists, each President Roosevelt shows up, and there's even a cowboy Jedi-like person. This is not your typical western-science fiction, time-traveling genre mash-up.