1. Kinzvlle
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    Kinzvlle Active Member

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    Space Westerns

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Kinzvlle, Jul 20, 2016.

    I`ve been toying with writing a space western, it makes sense really. Westerns are a hyped up version of the frontier when we were settling it, it`s not unreasonable to think settling of habitable dessert like planets may be simllar to life in the wild west. It`s been done well on tv at least ((Firefly), not sure in the written world. I think one of the key things is balancing the western gun slinging with the sci-fi elements.

    Figured I`d make a thread too discuss this sub (Sub sub actually) genre. Do you think it can be done well? Do you think it`s mostly cliches? Do you know any good space western tales? Any other thoughts on the genre? How to make it work?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It can be done well. And yes, it has been done. Mike Resnick's "Santiago" comes to mind.

    I like the subgenre, personally.
     
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  3. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    I find this genre fascinating, and it gives you quote a lot of flexibility I think. You can decide how Western you want it, just using structures common in the genre or using good old retro - futurism, steampunk or the used universe feel. The space pirate genre is used more often though.

    Firefly and Serenity, sort of Star Wars, Cowboy Bebop and Borderlands (yeah its a game but still) are the ones that come to my mind but they're all films and TV (except for Cowboy Bebop, which was a manga series before hand).
    I say go for it! I'd read it ;)
     
  4. ShannonH
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    ShannonH Senior Member Supporter

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    I'm working on something like you describe. Like you mentioned there's a challenge in avoiding cliches and avoid going over ground that's already been trod. Some of my most notable criticism so far is that it reminds them too much of Firefly but as I suppose the genre is so small, such comparisons are likely inevitable.

    I'd recommend Santiago as a good representation of a space western in literature although I found it to get quite repetitive by the half-way point. Just started Cowboy Bebop too and while I'm not an anime fan I've really enjoyed it so far.
     
  5. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Outlaw Star was another anime which played with the space western genre, though it still had a very eastern aesthetic. Trigun, too.
    The issue with space westerns, though, is that they tend to rely on a primarily human cosmos. Aliens tend to give it a fantasy flavor.
     
  6. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Andre Norton "the beast master" was essentially a space western (allbeit YA)
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There are two basic themes in 'real' settling the west stories—and they often conflict when it comes to the stories themselves.

    The one that has become quite a cliché has to do with bad guys, outlaws, bloody feuds, etc. The implication that the empty 'frontier' made anarchy and crime easy, and that the law didn't really exist is a popular one to play with.

    The other basic theme is 'settling an empty land.' (Empty, only if you weren't one of the indigenous people who got massacred or moved elsewhere by force.) This has an entirely different feel to it. It can be grim, but also joyous. It's more realistic, and it's the one that actually 'won' the west. The call to open new territory, to maybe make a good life for yourself and your family, to rise above poverty, to 'get on.' To own good land, which maybe you didn't before. To watch the trappings of civilisation move in, but include you this time. To make friends with and support your neighbors in order to reduce the risk of being alone and helpless in a crisis. Or, conversely, to look out and see nobody, and realise that you cherish your independence, and love being on your own, with lots of elbow room—despite the risks.

    I don't actually find the classic western that focuses on outlaws, etc, to be all that interesting. Nor do I enjoy it much if it's moved to 'space.' There is a lot more to life than chasing bad guys. (Firefly's charm lay in the characters themselves, and the subplots that often dealt with human emotions and interactions. And of course the arc of River and the mystery surrounding her.)

    If you're dealing with a 'frontier' in any sense, the challenges are huge. Yes, certain people will exploit the situation in a criminal way, and certain people will use the vastness of the unclaimed/unexplored territory to hide from the law. But that's only one aspect of the challenge.

    I love any work that deals with the whole challenge (including the displacement of what was there before.) Whether it's a 'real' western story, or one set somewhere else in the universe.

    Any space western that deals with the whole of that will get my attention and my reading/watching time. Just chasing bad guys? Not so much.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Is that the panic button you just pushed? :)
     
  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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  11. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    For the last 3 years I was working on my own sci fi universe which now that it's mostly completed I have come to realize that the best way to describe it is a "Grungy Space Western" Universe. I did it best with a kind of a "years after a plague" thing where the plague caused everyone who could to retreat back to Earth leaving everyone else to die which creating this kind of chaotic, anarchist country of people with guns and who have to use what was left over in space to survive. It to me is a mix between heavy sci fi and western.

    So that is ONE way of doing it.
     
  12. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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