A guest post by David Mark Brown

I, like many of us, have fond memories of lying around in my tighty-whities and watching Westerns with my equally unclad father and brother (we lived in the country). But since becoming a writer, multiple sources have cautioned me that being labeled “Western” is the kiss of death. It’s like the Black Spot with mange, or the dude with herpes playing spin the bottle. But maybe not for much longer.

In the 1960s, as the American genre of the Western guttered in its final death throes, a new sort of Western birthed onto the scene replacing the Wild West with what has become known as the Weird West. Most prominently, the Weird West is defined by its somewhat dubious landmark accomplishment, CBS Studio’s The Wild Wild West.

Fiction

Diehard fans of Weird West have been holding their breath for several months, unwilling to celebrate in fear of jinxing the whole affair. But I ain’t scared of the rizock (the opposite of mojo), so I’ll come out and say it. This may be the year of the Weird Western. The last several months have heralded much to celebrate. M. H. Hobson’s Nebula nominated The Native Star has been turning heads as a Western steampunk novel. Mike Resnick, the reigning godfather of Weird West, is still kicking with his Buntline Special. Even Dreadnought by Steampunk goddess Cherie Priest has a distinct Weird West feel.

Film

Nickel Children is a wonderful Western Steampunk short film, and even Nickelodeon has gotten in on the act with its March release of the animated Rango, starring Johnny Depp. Of course there is Cowboys vs. Aliens. As of the writing of this post the movie hasn’t released yet, so it could end up being as useless as a tit on a billy goat as far as rejuvenating the weird Western. (We’ve all been working hard to forget Hollywood’s Jonah Hex debacle.)

Television

For years the only Weird Western icon for an entire generation has been Will Smith with a metal collar around his neck. (Debate can get heated around The Wild Wild West movie, but most agree it wasn’t colossal.) Now CBS might be seeking new Weird West cred by rebooting The Wild Wild West TV series (although there’s been no news on this since November.) Unsurprisingly, considering the fact that CSI’s newest show will be based in Lake Wobegon (just kidding, it’s probably going to end up being Seattle), CBS has resorted to rebooting old favorites. Last season was Hawaii Five-0. (Book ‘em, Danno.)
 

Reeferpunk

As a writer of Weird Western novels, this is all great news for me. To knowingly write within a taboo genre only to have it come to life after the fact feels like cosmic confirmation. You know, that God really is a cowboy after all. (Anyone else remember the 1979 Cosmic Cowboy by Barry McGuire?) All dreamy-headed naivete aside, with the growing popularity of alternate history sub-genres like Steampunk and Dieselpunk, this just might be the year to go weird, young man.

For my part, I hope to fill my spare outhouse with shiny, new penny rolls (I like my fortune to shimmer old-school). So if you would like to contribute a few hundred pennies to my collection, check out Fistful of Reefer, the first in the Reeferpunk series, by downloading it from an ebook source near you.

Fistful of Reefer is a Dieselpunk, Weird Western pulp featuring goats, guns and the camaraderie of outcasts. Marijuana was the plan, liberty the dream, revolution the result. Viva this! A spaghetti-Western, refried alternate history exploring the ramifications of an industrial revolution sans cheap oil, Fistful is set along the Texas Mexico border during the waining years of the Mexican revolution, and lives somewhere between No country for Old Men and The Three Amigos.

I wrote my first award-winning story in 4th Grade, titled “The human bean.” It wasn’t a play on words. Intending to write a profound piece about the human condition, it turns out I wrote a mutant story about a human/legume crossbreed. (Curse you, phonics!)

Now I write from the unique perspective of being born and raised on a cattle ranch in Texas while attending University in Missoula, Montana, thus spawning the world’s most self-proclaimed redneck granola. The years in between haven’t improved my spelling, but they’ve created a hell of a human bean.

My first book, Tainted Love: God, Sex and Relationships for the Not-so-pure-at-heart (written from all my soiled experiences) was published in 2002 by InterVarsity Press. After several years of retooling myself as a novelist (by drinking more and making less money) I reemerged in 2009 with the concept for Reeferpunk.

My lovely wife and I adopted our first child from Vietnam and recently produced a second boy through more traditional means. When not spinning genius into the aethernet I obsess over home wine making, earthen construction, gardening, social justice, ultimate Frisbee and the promotion of industrial hemp.