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Judas Payne: A Weird Western
      Webb's Weird Wild West: Tales of Western Horror
Michael Hemmingson
      Don Webb
Wildside Double, The Borgo Press, 117 pages
      Wildside Double, The Borgo Press, 121 pages

Michael Hemmingson
Michael Hemmingson has written the meditation, Gordon Lish and His Influence on Twentieth Century American Literature, a short TV studies monograph on Star Trek (Wayne State Univ. Press), and an ethnographic research project, Zona Norte (Cambridge Scholars). He is working on a biography of Raymond Carver, set for publication in 2011 by McFarland & Company. He was a staff writer at the San Diego Reader from November 2004 through December 2009. In 2010 he joined the staff of Pacific San Diego Magazine.

Michael Hemmingson Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Michael Hemmingson

Don Webb
Don Webb is the fomer High Priest of Set. He is the author of four Runa Raven books and nine other Science Ficion, Horror and Mystery books.

Don Webb Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Don Webb

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'As quickly as the carnality possessed him, it vanished. Revered Payne felt base, hexed. When he removed himself from her room, he went to his study, flogged himself on the back with a small whip he kept in his desk.'
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Judas Payne: A Weird Western
Webb's Weird Wild West: Tales of Western Horror
This is very much a book of two halves, being two books in one connected only by basic theme. When one title is read, flip it over and start a whole new story from the other side. Halves come into play again with the lead character of Michael Hemmingson 's Judas Payne: A Weird Western. Payne is the product of rape by the Devil, and is half-white half-native American, who is in love with his half-sister, Evangeline. Judas Payne's half mad human 'father' is a blood and thunder preacher, who attacks him when he finds the young man naked in the barn with Evangeline. Payne senior puts put the eye of the Devil's spawn, but fails to prevent Payne junior from escaping. What follows is a series of snapshots from Judas Payne's life, as he traverses the weird west, often thinking of his lost love, Evangeline. Meanwhile, young Evangeline has been declared a harlot by her father, and sold into prostitution. Evangeline dreams of one day being rescued by Judas. What unfolds is a tale of blood, barbarity, multiple rapes and casual murders. There's a Shane-like sheriff, killer outlaws, pioneers pressed into slavery by a former US Cavalry colonel, and a one-eyed man who is the son of evil trying to do right.

Flip the book over, and there's Webb's Weird Western Tales of Horror by Don Webb. This is a small collection of twelve unconnected tales, all with weird twists. Included are stories where the brother of Jesse James takes revenge for the dead outlaw, another featuring a bunch of tramps who rescue a zebra from a stolen train, and the story of Satan soaring overhead in his own Zeppelin. It's a decidedly eclectic collection of bullets, not all of which hit their target, at least for me. But the beauty of this kind of work is that there is such diversity, something will appeal to most readers. How much, and whether it is enough, is another matter.

Everything on offer here comes rapid fire as a Gatling gun, and with about as much subtlety. Judas Payne was an interesting, if unoriginal idea, which left me with the feeling that I'd have enjoyed it more had the author had been able to construct a full length work. As it stands, the story was a bit too crude and clichéd for my tastes, although I concede that other readers may prefer the punchy, stripped-down style of writing. Judas Payne has a definite beginning middle and end, albeit one that allows wiggle room for additional adventures. In contrast, Webb's Weird Western Tales of Horror ranged far and wide, both in terms of the ideas presented and in their execution. I felt the collection was lacking in consistency. Some inclusions left me wanting more, and others were so distant from what I'd expected -- and hoped for -- that my attention soon drifted. In summary, this double bill is not for those looking to read a classic western, or even a western with a dash of SF. It better suited to those keen to taste cross-genre writing, with its hat tipped toward the wild West.

Copyright © 2011 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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