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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Todd Jepperson

Title: Dead Man's Hand
Author: Various (Edited by John Joseph Adams)
Publisher: Titan Books (May 13, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1781164501
Price: $13.31

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.
In all the anthologies I’ve read, I can say that I’ve never come across something quite like Dead Man’s Hand. This anthology of “the weird west,” edited by John Joseph Adams (who Barnes & Noble called “the reigning king of the anthology world”) has every little thing your grubby little heart could possibly desire. From the outset, you find yourself down deep in a crater on the parry from a living dead spider cowboy (yeah, you read that right) on your way to time shifting gunslingers with super suits, tough skinned old west ladies of the night, and even to a Grimm-esque tale of ol’ Johnny Appleseed.

Like in any anthology, there are bound to be some stories that don’t grab your fancy. That’s just part of the hand the cards deal. However, in Dead Man’s Hand even the slower tales had me, because I couldn’t help but wonder what could possibly come next. Dinosaurs? (yeah, there in there too!)
John Joseph Adams has collected a giant stack of some of the most interesting stories I've ever read, and when he did, he dropped ‘em in cowboy boots and slapped on a giant, black cattleman.

Some of the more interesting tales are Second Hand, a story of two magic card sharps who meet their match in a tiny little thing from the wrong end of the tracks; The Red-Headed Dead, a story of an old preacher on a mission from God; The Hell-Bound Stagecoach, a tale of a coach full of passengers who’d rather not be along for the ride; and Red Dreams; a tale of finding similarities with those who are different from yourself.

Really, what this book does is gives you everything you never knew you needed all in one fantastically entertaining experience. I’d say it sits somewhere between really good and excellent, but it’s something that you definitely will not read and soon forget about. You can get your copy in either print, digital, or audio from, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, or wherever it is you prefer to dredge your tales.

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