Straight Outta Tombstone
Edited by David Boop
Cover Artist: Dominic Harman
Review by Drew Bittner
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781481482691
Date: 04 July 2017 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Editor's Website / Show Official Info /
One of the pleasures of reading an anthology is finding the hidden gems that ride alongside the bigger names in genre fiction. Sure, readers will pick up a book that has a story by Jim Butcher or Larry Correia, but there's gold to be mined that doesn't have an A-list name attached.
Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop, is just such a literary gold mine.
To be fair, the bigger name authors are giving the premise--weird horror stories set in the West (most of them the Old West)--a serious effort. Jim Butcher's "A Fistful of Warlocks" puts his Warden Luccio up against a batch of bad guys with only one legendary gunman on her side, while Larry Correia's "Bubba Shackleford's Professional Monster Killers" gives us the early days of the outfit before it became Monster Hunters International--and the fight that its founder had against a powerful native spirit.
Alan Dean Foster's "The Treefold Problem" delivers a rather innovative solution to a family's crisis--they need to clear a small forest off their land or lose it to a greedy banker--by way of Mad Amos Malone, adventurer and agent of providence. Michael A. Stackpole's "Chance Corrigan and the Lord of the Underworld" presents an occult scholar with the opportunity to seize great power unless a clever and resourceful adventurer can contrive to stop a deal with the Devil.
In Phil Foglio's "Easy Money", a crew of men out in the Badlands discover that it's a lot easier to find fossils than some academics think, while Robert E. Vardeman delivers "The Sixth World", a story of a Navajo medicine man explaining strange visitors to a white man through the lens of his worldview... and how that shapes a fateful encounter.
Marcus Broaddus's "Dance of Bones" pits a former Buffalo Soldier against a horrific entity of judgment, with a whole cattle drive at stake. Sarah A. Hoyt's "Dry Gulch Dragon" sends an unlikely partnership of a man and a suitor (who spends much of his time as a dragon) in pursuit of a kidnapped woman meant to be sacrificed by evil elves.
As noted above, some real gems wait to be discovered inside, such as "The Greatest Guns in the Galaxy" by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Ken Scholes, wherein time traveling aliens get a chance to visit a rowdy era of Earth's past--and make a few changes along the way, all in the name of economic expansion. Also "Buffalo Hunters" by Sam Knight, wherein a lovestruck young cowpoke gets a chance to be the hero for a very unusual Russian tourist and her father, touring the West by train and encountering a monster that only they can fight.
Boop's done great work assembling this collection of stories, with nary a clinker or a page-flipper among them. While the big names may lure in the casual reader, the contents from start to finish will keep them engaged.