Archive for the ‘Space Western’ Category

Thought I’d post here, since it’s been a while. Well, okay, maybe like a year or more. So long ago, I can’t remember when I last posted here. Anyway, I have some news. This week I’m launching my first anthology of SF stories. It’s called, Tales From Ocherva Vol 1, and here is the awesome cover for it:

You can find out more about the e-book only anthology over at my web site: http://ken-mcconnell.com. I promise to post here a little more often in the coming weeks. Anyone else join me?

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Space Westerns

I like Westerns. I always watch a good Western when I come across it on TV. Recently, I even read my first Louis L’Amour book – Fallon. I intend to read more Westerns in the coming months. In fact, it could become my number one genre choice in 2009. There are many Western novels that I need to catch up on, not to mention all the hundreds of short stories writers like L’Amour have written. My sudden literary interest in Westerns is prompted by my recent fascination with Space Western short fiction.

What is a Space Western you may rightly ask? Well, broadly speaking its anything from Star Wars to Firefly. The link to Westerns in Star Wars is most prominent in the character of Han Solo. Trade his blaster for a six gun and you could drop Han into the American West and he would look and act right at home. For those of you not familiar with Firefly, it took the Western motif quite literally by placing cowboys directly into a space setting. Everything from clothing to the wooden diner table on the Firefly starship are lifted directly from a Western movie. Heck, they even speak Chinese. Why was Chinese part of American history? Who do you think built the railroads?


The many tropes of the Western tend to lend themselves nicely to the fantasy side of Sci-Fi. What is generally considered Space Opera. Big, epic stories often set during galactic wars with faster than light travel and things blowing up, tend to define the Space Opera sub genre. Again, think Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. However, most short fiction tends to focus on one or two characters. And so the Space Western usually focuses on one protagonist and his or her struggles.

I’ve been writing quite a few Space Westerns lately. Six of them are complete with another six or so on the back burner. Science Fiction writers tend to create elaborate universes and then set the majority of their stories in that universe (there’s a post for another day). The reason they do this is because creating fictional universes is hard work and one way to flesh them out is to write a bunch of stories set in that universe. For me, I use the Galaxy Collision Series as my universe. My novel Starstrikers is set in that universe and so are my two published short stories.

My Space Westerns are mostly set on a dusty moon called Ocherva, at the edge of the known galaxy. The stories center around two different but related themes. The first is about the exploits of a Stellar Ranger company. This is a direct cowboy parallel to the Texas Rangers of the old West. The second is about androids who come to the moon to get an upgrade that makes them sentient. After having the upgrade, they have to deal with the repercussions of it before heading back to the inner worlds and helping to free themselves from service to humans and other carbonates.

With these two overarching themes, I create stories that have a distinctly Western flavor but that turn traditional tropes upside down. A theme in many of the stories is how the land changes the people and androids who live on it. Just as the vast, open spaces of the American West left a mark on those who lived there, so does the vast, deserted landscape of a barren moon, affect those who live on it. For the androids, the raw material – silicon, used in their upgrades is mined on Ocherva. It gives them a soul, but at what price? Sometimes the androids can’t handle it and they go mad. Sometimes they feel a desire to meddle in the affairs of humans, like becoming a sheriff for a town of frightened people. The humans chew on (for hydration purposes) and sometimes smoke a native weed called Ocha. The Ocha weed, when smoked, gives them crazy dreams. Sometimes the dreams give them glimpses into the future.

So you see, I have plenty of opportunity to play on this moon and will be writing Ranger and Silicant stories for years to come. I hope to build a world so familiar to my readers that they will think of it like they think of the American West, as a big, wide-open place full of adventure and danger; but also a place where humans, aliens and androids all mix together in interesting ways to make fun and engaging stories.

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