Thursday, June 15, 2023

Space Cowboys, or 'Meanwhile, Back at the Asteroid'

My review of the book will be posted in two versions. This version will contain 350+ words of backstory and explanations. The Amazon and Goodreads version will not have any of that.

Space Cowboys Edited by C.V. Walter. Raconteur Press. Kindle Edition. 

My heroes have always been cowboys. It was rather inevitable, because at that time, Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger dominated the three channels available on the rabbit-ear-antenna’ed black and white television set, to be followed closely by Bat Masterson, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Bronco and Bonanza. Have you got the idea? Because I can list MANY more examples, if you like. I was THERE, you see; and, to top it off, we moved to San Antonio in time for me to start the first grade, and I got my first cowboy hat and boots, and saw the Alamo, and had a pet horned toad. So, yeah, cowboys.

Nothing lasts forever. The US got interested in rockets, and the new shows were Men in Space, Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, Twilight Zone, and Lost in Space; by the time Star Trek finally hit the screen in 1966, NOBODY wanted a pony for Christmas anymore.  

And, if ANYONE had suggested that the writers were just dusting off un-used or over-used Western story lines, calling a rabbit a smeerp, and replacing the ferocious Apache with the ferocious Martian/Klingon, they would have been shunned as a spoilsport.

Even though nothing lasts forever, nothing ever changes, either. We STILL wanted cowboys! So, we got Wild Wild West (cowboys PLUS high-tech!), which was the very first prime-time steampunk event, preceding the origination of the term by more than 20 years. 
I’m ignoring cartoons, which haven’t been my thing since Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner, and comic books, which I abandoned shortly after Spiderman emerged.  
For those of us who really loved the blend, though, it was a wasteland.
WHO SAID THAT? Please, PLEASE don’t make me remember Firefly…

Yes, I KNOW I’m leaving out a lot of greatness. Please feel free to make up the lack in the comments!

At long last, a colony of psychos, hippies, chippies, rednecks, cops, veterans, school marms, librarians, pilots, priests, scientists and authors (oops, redundant!) decided it was time to get the job done. And they came up with this collection of SPACE COWBOY stories. I hope that one of the future volumes will be titled “Meanwhile, Back at the Asteroid...”

The stories:
Asteroid Wranglers, by JL Curtis. When we finally get a foothold in space, we are NOT going to be able to rely on lifting up essential resources out of Earth’s gravity well. No need to either, since there is an entire planet’s worth, already busted up, drifting out there, waiting for us. It’s dangerous work, though, and The Man only cares about the bottom line.

Drover, by Evan DeShais. The man told me that he was excited by our future in space, because there are SO many resources out there that everyone will be rich, and there will be no crime, just peace. 
So, I sold him some crypto-currency, an extended warranty on his car, and the winning ticket to the lottery. He was happy for the opportunity! (NOTE: none of that happened; it’s just my way of illustrating that where opportunity exists, cheaters, robbers, bullies and thugs will find a way.) 

All Creatures Weird and Wonderful, by David Bock. I understand that it was customary in ancient times to lame the blacksmith. He was so vital to the village, they didn’t want him to run away. Same could happen with medics, in a future on another planet, with bizarre forms of disease. Query: did witch doctors ever get killed if they guessed wrong? 

Getting the Herd In, by Richard Cartwright. Cool, this one is in the BIBLE, sort of! There’s a difference between a shepherd and a hired hand, paid to watch sheep. In this case, it’s bison adapted to a semi-terraformed Mars, but that takes NOTHING away from the story. 

Showdown at Palladiumtown, by Andrew Milbourne. The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in America. There’s no reason to believe their history can only be written on Earth, is there? Sure, there are bound to be conflicts over jurisdiction, but competent professionals can usually win over well-intentioned local cops. And, if they AREN’T well-intentioned? I don’t know; shoot ‘em, maybe?

Gideon's Wild Ride, by Scott Slack. Roy took good care of Trigger, and the Lone Ranger took good care of Silver. The partnership between horse and rider is a precious trust, and it goes both ways.

No Home on the Range, by Rick Cutler. This isn’t a story about homeless space cowboys. This is a story about how keeping to a code of honor can be complicated; it’s about loyalty. And it serves as an excellent reminder that survivors MUST know their environment. 

Tin Badge, Tin Dog, by Daniel G. Zeidler. A good dog has saved more than one person from harm, and from loneliness as well. They are amazingly perceptive, and the bond between a dog and his human has to be seen to be believed. Will robot dogs be able to do that? Well, I hear that some people can be both cop and combat, so maybe it’s possible. 

Interstellar Cattle Drive, by Cedar Sanderson. A herd of cows may look placid, but they can DEFINITELY kill you. If that happens, though, it won’t be because of evil intent; it’s just that the cow couldn’t be troubled by realizing you were in the way. If you are appropriately prudent, though, you can expect to operate safely in the vicinity of the herd. That safety doesn’t extend to situations involving humans. 

W.A.R.P. in Sector 3! by Jesse Barrett. There are good reasons that ship captains are given a great deal of authority. Most of those reasons are related to potentially lethal events. It would be nice, if the threats could be limited to weather. Or even warfare! However, I suspect that threats generated from actions by crew members are those which are most likely to succeed.  A captain’s authority will NOT save the author of this story, however! He played “fun with the written word,” inserting cultural references, and probably puns and other japes, and is destined for the carp catapult. 

This volume is certified free of existential angst, and may be used to illustrate the value of an ethical system of beliefs to youth and others in need.

Peace be on your household.


  1. Thank you for the review. I will share it with the world. So, like the 10 people I know.


  2. Thanks for reviewing the book and your kind words about my story!