There’s much to be said for the short story format, and the anthology method of collecting it.
Rather than devoting yourself to a single world and narrative that is over all too suddenly and may leave you unfulfilled, this format allows you to bask in a shared theme and mood for an extended period of time, and while a good story will leave you asking “what happened next?”; the best stories in a collection will keep you turning the page, saying “just one more…” as the lengthy hours creep on…
Dead Man’s Hand is in essence a collection of stories that are “Westerns Plus Something;” with that something being left up to the individual author at hand. And so, we have Western steam punk adventures; Western horror stories; Western science fiction, Western horror accounts. Ghost stories and superhero stories mingle together quite happily, joined together by the cowboy, the outlaw, the Indian, the setting sun, and the long lonesome road that are the hallmarks of any good Western.
I suppose I liked this collection so much because of an affinity I have always held towards the Western genre, passed onto me from my father and his love of the great Western films of the 1950s and on. And I think that aspect is important, if you don’t have a familiarity with the Western or simply don’t care about it, as is your right, you won’t really gain the best experience from this collection. It is the lynchpin upon which all other events turn, and as such should not be ignored, but embraced.
I liked the variety of stories in this collection, and found them nicely spaced apart so that no two really blurred into one. It was a wonderful ride to get through them all, and I found the quality of writing from all the contributing authors’ suburb, and again, nicely distinct. If you’re looking for a book you can read a bit of each day and stretch out the experience, please consider this collection.