cover image High Noon on Proxima B

High Noon on Proxima B

Edited by David Boop. Baen, $18 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-982192-42-6

Boop brings together 10 alternately (and occasionally simultaneously) hilariously off-beat and grimly violent tales for his second sci-fi western anthology (after Gunfight on Europa Station). Ken Scholes’s campfire tale “Harley Takes a Wife” is a standout, opening on final frontiersman Harlan Bosco Sussbauer, who, finding himself “feeling quite alone, terribly lonely, and in dire want of companionship,” decides to find a wife. This familiar setup is soon subverted, as the first companion to appear for Harley is no mail-order bride, but a wise-cracking, AI-enhanced cactus named Duke—and the plot only gets stranger from there. Walter Jon Williams similarly subverts tropes in “West. World.,” a humorous account of a far-future attempt to revive the “moribund Western genre,” to be filmed on one of Jupiter’s moons. “Past Sins” by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, “The Last Round” by Susan Matthews, and “Five Mules for Madam Calypso” by Thea Hutcheson, meanwhile, will satisfy readers with an itch for gunfights and rough frontier justice—albeit in space. Weird western fans will be eager for more. (Feb.)