Sunday 17 May 2020

Hot Lead: All Reviews Special

Editor Justin Marriott
May 2020

Over 215 capsule reviews from a century of western fiction!

This is a fanzine that should be on the shelves of every western fiction fan. 

With more than 160 pages this is a weighty publication that will provide hours on entertainment. It’s not a book to read cover to cover, but a collection to be dipped into, savoured and returned to time after time.

This beautifully put together fanzine is divided into separate sections covering ten year time periods, the first review is of a book that was published in 1927 and the final one being a novel from 2015. There are many cover illustrations to savour too, all produced in black and white. 

Comic book writer and author Chuck Dixon’s forward is both charming and entertaining and I can’t help but picture him practicing his fast draw whilst jumping up and down on his bed as a child.

Editor and producer Justin Marriott’s introduction tells of how this volume of Hot Lead came about and of how it developed as the reviews came in from enthusiastic western book fans resulting in him hoping it will become a yearly publication.

There are three special essays too. Paul Bishop looks at ten of his favourite western authors, Howard Andrew Jones explores the Gold Medal line of westerns and Gary Dobbs waxes lyrically about Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove Saga.   

To close the fanzine there is a contributor’s section where you can read a bit of background about many of the reviewers.

But what of the reviews themselves? As it states on the back of the fanzine it covers The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, although there are far more that fall into the good rather than the other two categories. Of course, we must remember that each review is one person’s opinion so it may not match your own thoughts on a particular book. Indeed, there are some that have received low star ratings that I’d have marked higher, and vice-versa, and that is part of the fascination of such publications.

Amid the many classic westerns reviewed you’ll also find lesser known novels. There are books from well-known authors and those who’ll be new to you. The passion of the reviewers for the genre comes across strongly and is very infectious. As well as traditional westerns you’ll find reviews of books from a variety of sub-genres such as adult westerns, cow-punk, SF-westerns, weird westerns, ultra-violent westerns and comic books.

There are reviews of stand-alone novels and those that form part of a series. Some authors have been reviewed more than once by different people and this helps give a more in-depth appreciation to those writers’ work. You’ll also discover who the authors are behind some of those pseudonyms. 

Whatever your taste in western fiction, I’m sure you’ll find some of your favourites in this collection and discover many more authors that you’ll want to try. One thing I can certainly guarantee is that it will have you rushing out to those used book stores and internet sites in search of the many gems you’ll read about in this issue of Hot Lead. 

If you haven’t bought a copy of the All Reviews Special then may I suggest you do so right away as it is something all fans of western fiction, and those who just have a passing interest, will find themselves reading over and over for both entertainment and reference.  If I may borrow the rating system from this book, I'll give it *****


James Seger said...

Every time you post one of these Hot Lead reviews, I hope to see that there's a digital edition available. Maybe as a PDF, or via Kindle or something.

Each issue does look really interesting.

Anonymous said...

You can order all issues from amazon UK.

No digital version, sadly.

Well worth picking up. A great magazine.

michael said...

This one is an absolute treat! As stated above. A must-have! Got it as soon as I read this blog.

western mike said...

The surprise for me was this is a large format paperback, and therefore great value.
It look good and well produced. I’m not dipping in, but reading from first to last page. I’m now halfway through and have made a list of over 20 titles that l want. Now here’s the disappointment, only about 5 of them are readily available. I don’t want e books, l want a real book, and l don’t mind second hand, but not poor condition.
Book shops don’t even have a western section anymore. Thankfully Louis Lamour , Elmore Leonard and Johnny D. Boggs can still be found in new condition.

James Seger said...

As a reader, not a collector, ebooks have been a real boon. Without them I likely would never have gotten my hands on the old Edge and Bodie books. It's even made it easier to pick more recent, but still OOP tuff by guys like Peter Brandvold. Plus, they usually can be gotten for $3 or less thanks to Western specialty publishers like Piccadilly Publishing and Wolfpack Publishing.

If you read on e-ink (like a Kindle or Kobo), not a phone, tablet or PC, they are much more book-like.

western mike said...

I have nothing against ebooks, and must admit a lot of my wanted western titles are available as ebooks, and might eventually have to give in.
I just prefer owning the book, especially when it has a great cover.

James Seger said...

I understand. I felt the same way until I bought an e-reader 'just to check it out' Once I started reading on it, I never went back to paper. Now, I wasn't exactly a book collector (I have several thousand paperbacks, but I didn't 'collect' or display them, if you see what I mean), so I can't say you will love ebooks like I do. But for me, they've been a game changer. And I've saved a LOT of money.

I tend to download my books and put whatever cover I like on them.

I will say if you get an ereader, get an e-ink, black and white one (a Kindle Paperwhite, a Kobo or a Nook Glowlight). It is much more like reading paper book than reading on a tablet or phone.