cover image Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West

Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West

Edited by John Joseph Adams. Titan (, $15.95 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-1-78116-450-1

A fearsomely impressive lineup of contributors surmounts an occasional over-reliance on Old West tropes in this vigorously imagined blend of cheroot-smoking cowboys, aliens, demons, werewolves, androids, and even dinosaurs. Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Red-Headed Dead” resurrects Weird West icon Reverend Mercer for a quick, savage, splendidly devised fight scene with a vampire. Orson Scott Card’s drolly dark “Alvin and the Apple Tree” brings Alvin Maker back to butt heads with Johnny Appleseed over the nature of hope. Elizabeth Bear’s impeccably crafted “Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle,” set in a Seattle bordello, includes a tinge of steampunk . The most exceptional contributions are Ken Liu’s exquisite “What I Assume You Shall Assume,” which enfolds Chinese mysticism and Thoreau in a tableau of magical language, and Tad Williams’s “Strong Medicine,” which allows dinosaurs to rampage for a day in Arizona via an ingeniously conceived rip in the fabric of time. While there’s some repetition of theme and concept, Adams has produced a satisfyingly filler-free compilation. (May)