Edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash
Looking at the cover, with its terrific artwork by James O’Barr, you might be wondering why this collection of short stories is being featured on a blog about western fiction? Simple answer, it contains a number of western stories, and authors whose western work is regularly reviewed here write many of the other tales. A full list of stories and authors can be found at the end of this review.
When sitting down to write this review I thought maybe all I need to do is just ask Bill Crider for permission to copy his wonderful forward to the book and post it here, as I don’t see how his words can fail to encourage any reader into diving straight into this excellent collection of stories.
The twenty-seven tales within cover a broad range of genres, taking in westerns, crime, sci-fi, fantasy, pirate, ghost and war. Of course there are stories here that I like better than others but all are extremely well told. Most explore the darker side of life, of human nature, and after reading the first two or three I gave up trying to guess how each story would end, as many finish with neat twists, Patricia Abbott’s story leaving me laughing out loud.
I enjoyed finding out what type of story the western writers I regularly read had decided to write, some turning to genres I knew they write in alongside their westerns, others – mainly those who write Black Horse Westerns (and there’s a few of them in this collection) – providing welcome surprises in their subject matter.
Some of these stories have been published online, others are appearing here for the first time – one being a recently discovered unpublished story by Paul S. Powers who had many tales published in the pulps of old.
The book ends with a fascinating look at the history of pulps by Cullen Gallagher and short profiles of all the authors.
David Cranmer says in his introduction, “I am optimistic we have put together a collection that has something for everyone.” I would say you definitely have succeeded David, and I, for one, am already looking forward to Round Two.
Beat to a Pulp: Round One is now available here, or can be bought from Amazon.
1. Maker’s and Coke Jake Hinkson
2. A Free Man Charles Ardai
3. Fangataufa Sophie Littlefield
4. You Don’t Get Three Mistakes Scott D. Parker
5. Insatiable Hilary Davidson
6. Boots on the Ground Matthew Quinn Martin
7. Studio Dick Garnett Elliott
8. Killing Kate Ed Gorman
9. The Ghost Ship Evan Lewis
10. The Strange Death of Ambrose Bierce Paul S. Powers
11. Heliotrope James Reasoner
12. The Wind Scorpion Edward A. Grainger
13. Hard Bite Anonymous-9
14. Crap is King Robert J. Randisi
15. The All-Weather Phantom Mike Sheeter
16. Pripet Marsh Stephen D. Rogers
17. Ghostscapes Patricia Abbott
18. Off Rock Kieran Shea
19. At Long Last Nolan Knight
20. A Native Problem Chris F. Holm
21. Spend it Now, Pay Later Nik Morton
22. Spot Marks the X I.J. Parnham
23. Hoosier Daddy Jedidiah Ayres
24. Anarchy Among Friends: A Love Story Andy Henion
25. Cannulation Glenn Gray
26. The Unreal Jesse James Chap O’Keefe
27. Acting Out Frank Bill
27. Acting Out Frank Bill