The Weird West: It’s Elemental
“We thought it would be fun to write about the Weird West,” said fellow author Kim Fielding. “Naturally, we thought of you.”
That was nice. Authors appreciate being thought of. “A Western?”
“A weird Western.”
Indeed. Weird West is an offshoot of speculative fiction that reimagines the American West through science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, horror, or other genres. Right up my alley, right? So of course I agreed to write a story.
Once Upon a Time in the Weird West will be released on December 16. The anthology includes MM stories from authors Ginn Hale, Lex Chase, Shira Anthony, Venona Keyes, Andrew Gordon, Kim Fielding, Jamie Fessenden, and more. And me. It’s a great collection!
This isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweed, 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 takes will exceed expectations.
Hold onto your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.
Here’s the blurb for my story, “After the Wind.”
Plagued by drought and raids from hostile Comanches, the West Texas frontier is a hell of a place to carve out a living. Twenty years ago, a mysterious disaster devastated the Llano Estacado and cursed the survivors with supernatural abilities over Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The Anglo government promptly outlawed these powers—and they’re willing to pay good money to anyone who turns over an elemental, dead or alive.
When rancher Micah Dawes desperately needs water for his herd, he strikes a deal with two unsavory bounty hunters for the services of a chained, blue-haired water elemental named Rain. Micah pities Rain, but he has to play his cards close to his chest—because Micah, too, survived the Wind, and the reason he always wears a hat is to hide his glowing red hair….
And an EXCERPT from “After the Wind” to give you a taste of the Weird West.
We found water the next day. The stick in Rain’s hands wobbled and dipped. To me it was clear he’d made that happen, but Charlie jumped around and made a big deal of it. Before dawn I had put more ice in my eyes, though my stash was down to the point I might soon have to wear a blindfold myself. So far Charlie was none the wiser, but I stayed alert and made double sure of the bandana hiding my hair under my hat.
Fire weirdlings are just about as rare as the water kind. The US military craves our corpses especially and pays top dollar to get their hands on our fireproof skins and hair, bones they say can explode stronger than dynamite, and flesh that turns into some kind of nasty accelerant when dried and ground to dust.
The powdered flesh of water weirdlings is used to seed clouds for rain. There’s other stuff too, like the ice, but I don’t remember it all. Water elementals are that scarce.
Which was part of the wonder of Rain. Seeing him sitting on that pretty buckskin horse, hair blue in the sun and ragged sleeves sliding down his too thin arms as he folded his palms inward, stick pointing to the sky, made my heart swell with purpose. They’d left his blindfold off, and his face looked closed and peaceful, like something out of a holy book. I knew the look. He was following water, his soul slipping toward his element.
Water elementals aren’t creative. Neither are Earth or Air weirdlings. They can collect it, or find it, or move it—add to it or take away—but they never actually make water or stone or rain or sand.
Fire is different. Fire creates itself. But Fire has its drawbacks too.
When Charlie had finished his hooting and hollering, he grabbed a shovel hooked on the side of the wagon and tossed it so it landed in the grass near my horse. “Time to start digging.”
Hope you check out this great anthology. It’s available for preorder right now at Dreamspinner Press.
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.
Tali’s books include the Pride of Uttor series: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, Adored, and Victory Portrait, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds, are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often publishes in anthologies, and puts up free stories and excerpts on her blog.