Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Ginn Hale for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Once Upon a Time in the Weird West
Author: Ginn Hale, Jana Denardo, Kim Fielding, Venona Keyes, Tali Spencer, Jamie Fessenden, Lex Chase, Astrid Amara, C.S. Poe, Langley Hyde, Nicole Kimberling, Shira Anthony, Andrew Q. Gordon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Nathie Block
Genre: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Historical, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Western
Release Date: 12/16/2016
This isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweeds, horses, and cattle on the range, but there are also magical gems, automatons, elementals, airships… even dinosaurs and genetically modified insects. Roaming among the buffalo and coyotes, you’ll encounter skinwalkers, mad engineers, mythical beings cloaked in darkness, and lovers who stay true to their oaths… even beyond the grave. On this frontier are those at the mercy of their own elaborate devices as well as men whose control of time and space provides a present-day vision of the West. There might even be a dragon hidden amongst the ghost towns and wagon trains.
If you like your Westerns with a splash of magic, a touch of steampunk, and plenty of passionate romance between men, these genre-bending tales will exceed expectations.
Hold on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.
What the Nineteenth Century Needed—Dinosaurs!
When I approached the challenge of writing a story for the anthology Once Upon a Time in the Weird West I knew that I wanted to do a little more than just toss a couple airships up in the big blue sky and slap a pair of goggles on my protagonist—not that I don’t love airships and wicked cool goggles but I also wanted to include an additional aspect that both reflected the era and added something unique to the world.
After doing a little research I quickly found just what I was looking for: dinosaurs, of course! Because it was in the nineteenth century that dinosaurs—or at least our human understanding of them—came into being, both as a term and a cultural fascination.
The first published scientific description and proper naming of a dinosaur appeared in 1824, penned by William Buckland and describing the fossilized bones of a megalosaurus. Previously, the head of megalosaurus thighbone had been dubbed Scrotum humanum and had been attributed to the immense groin of a marauding giant. But that had been in the 1700’s when the dignity of science could still entertain a dirty joke. (Amusingly enough the actual term ‘dinosaur’ wouldn’t be coined until 1841 when Sir Richard Owen decided that all these weird, big beasts could cozy up under the designation of ‘great lizards’. Pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs plesiosaurs and nearly any other prehistoric fossil that wasn’t a mammal stood a fair chance of joining the ranks of dinosaurs, for a while at least.)
Buckland and Owen both reconstructed megalosaurus as a long-snouted, toothy quadruped. Illustrations from the time depict a sort of scaly hyena with a limp slab of a tail and a crocodile grin. Images of wide-eyed plesiosaurs propped up on soupy prehistoric beaches are even more hilarious to a modern viewer. But at the time they likely reflected the new scientific concept of life progressing from primitive—and in this case goofy— to elegant modern creatures. And more importantly, they were like nothing anyone had seen before!
Iguanodon, hylaeosaurus, hadrosaurus, ichthyosaurus, pterodactylus, and plesiosaurus all sparked their own scientific papers and quickly ignited imaginations far from the scientific fields. The bones seemed to crop up everywhere—by the late 1800’s digs were turning up finds on every continent but Antarctica. And the American mid-west was among the most fruitful of grounds. (The battle between American paleontologists Cope and Marsh would become known as the Bone Wars and makes for a fascinating story all of its own.)
As more and more discoveries rolled in, there seemed to be a tantalizing possibility that someone, somehow, might just stumble upon one of these ancient creatures in the flesh. Visitors could already stroll past life-size reproductions scattered across the grounds of the Crystal Palace. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that it was in the nineteenth century when the Loch Ness Monster sightings took on a plesiosaur-like aspect.
Charles Dickens couldn’t resist evoking the image of an encounter with a megalosaur when wrote Bleak House. And obviously he expected his readers to know just what he meant when he described a dreary street like so:
“As much mud in the street as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.”
Jules Verne populated the depths of the planet with dinosaurs in Journey to the Center of the Earth, while Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned them living alongside primitive human beings on a distant Venezuelan plateau in The Lost World.
Even dour Edward Hitchcock would suffer a momentary whimsy at the thought of somehow witnessing one of these majestic, strange creatures alive again. His poem Sandstone Bird imagines the remains of a pterosaur brought back to life to look with despair upon the immoral world surrounding it, before returning to the rock it sprang from. (Hitchcock held and utterly Victorian string of titles: both Reverend and Professor of Natural Theology and Geology. He was one of the inspirations for my Theurgists—who manipulate magical minerals and regulate the activities of mages—in my story Get Lucky.)
To my mind, there was no denying that the Nineteenth Century was obviously crying out for the reintroduction of dinosaurs, and what kind of fantasy author would I have been if I hadn’t heeded that call? (A perfectly reasonable one, no doubt but once the thought struck me I couldn’t stop working on it—and it made a great excuse to do more research on dinosaurs themselves.)
So, by adding magical machines and mages to my world I was able to introduce some of the majestic—and terrifying— wildlife from the Cretaceous into an old west replete with steam-punk innovations. Goggles, airships and triceratops together at last! I have to admit, it was a delight to build the world. In fact, it turned out to be such fun for me that I couldn’t limit myself to a single short story. Instead, the setting inspired a short novel as well as two novellas.
Thank you, dinosaurs!
Contributing short: Get Lucky
Blurb: Pinkerton detectives, saltwater crocodiles, the Borax Brothers, and the sinister Swaims: seems everyone is out to get water mage, Lucky Spivey.
Lucky Spivey just wants to pay off his dead father’s debts and forget about the gunslinger who left him waiting at the stagecoach station three years before. But when he stumbles across a handsome Pinkerton detective in mortal peril, he can’t abandon the man to his fate, and all too soon Lucky finds himself in a wild chase filled with magic, murder, and a triceratops or two. Surviving the marshlands might mean working together with a disturbingly familiar gunslinger….
About the Author
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and wayward cats. She is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an avid coffee-drinker. Her publications include: Wicked Gentlemen, Lord of the White Hell (Books 1 & 2), Champion of the Scarlet Wolf (Books 1 & 2), The Rifter Trilogy (The Shattered Gates, The Holy Road, His Sacred Bones), Swift & the Black Dog, and Maze-Born Trouble.
12/6 – Gay Book Reviews – Jana Denardo
12/7 – The Novel Approach – Kim Fielding
12/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – Venona Keyes
12/9 – Diverse Reader – Tali Spencer
Sinfully Gay MM Book Reviews – Jamie Fessenden
12/12 – Love Bytes – Lex Chase
12/13 – Boy Meets Boy – Astrid Amara
12/14 – Prism Book Alliance – Ginn Hale
12/15 – Alpha Book Club – C.S. Poe
12/16 – Joyfully Jay – Langley Hyde
12/19 – Divine Magazine – Nicole Kimberling
12/20 – My Fiction Nook – Shira Anthony
Open Skye – Andrew Q. Gordon
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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