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THE BUNTLINE SPECIAL by Mike Resnick

THE BUNTLINE SPECIAL

By Mike Resnick

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-61614-249-0
Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Alternate history cum steampunk Western, with Resnick (Starship: Flagship, 2009, etc.) developing the most famous of all the legends of the Old Wild West.

In 1881, the westward expansion of the United States was halted at the Mississippi River by the magic of powerful Indian wizards. Claiming Manifest Destiny, the government pays inventor Thomas Edison to go to Tombstone, Ariz., and find a way to counteract the magic. Unable to defeat the wizards, Tom teams up with Ned Buntline to invent electric-powered horseless carriages, impenetrable brass, electric lighting, even metal ladies to staff the local whorehouse. Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Bat Masterson, and consumptive dentist-gunfighter Doc Holliday, have been hired as bodyguards, since Tom already lost an arm to an assassination attempt and now sports a handsome brass cyborg replacement. Indian wizard Hook Nose has hired the Clanton gang to dispose of Edison, so the scene is set. Unfortunately, another wizard turns Bat Masterson into a giant vampire bat. Worse yet, Hook Nose reanimates murdered gunslinger Johnny Ringo to kill Edison, but the well-educated Ringo wants to stay undead, so he avoids Edison, preferring to discuss philosophy and literature with Holliday, drink and visit the metal ladies. Clearly, the real showdown will be between Holliday and the revoltingly undead Ringo. Holliday's dry wit and fast reflexes provide the substrate as with great relish Resnick subversively refurbishes this notorious collection of fact and embroidery.

At times overly talky, but a clever and refreshing do-over that leaves the door ajar for sequels.