In a bizarre post-apocalyptic future, Megan Bridgwater’s world is defined by Western garb, gab and clichés.
There are horses, saloons, outlaws, a stagecoach robbery, poker games—everything but cattle and rustlers. Alien Visitors who arrived 20 years ago have created a land of perpetual daytime: They’ve stopped the Earth’s rotation, leaving the sun always in the sky and otherwise wreaking havoc. The Zone, a place of “[w]eird space-time wrinkles,” stretches from the Midwest to the Pacific. Despite that, Megan, an expert tracker, heads out into no man’s land to find her father. She’s accompanied first by Luis, a Mexican blacksmith who eventually becomes a love interest, and joined by Kelly, an alien abductee who has missed the past 20 years. This threesome is determined to get from Marfa, Texas, to Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, Ariz., where they hope all answers can be found. Megan’s formal, present-tense narration is reminiscent of Charles Portis. A weird concoction of familiar and strange elements, the plot challenges the characters in ways that cause them to draw on both magical and old-fashioned ingenuity. So much happens that the characters remain fairly flat, the violence has a cartoonish quality, and the climactic moment goes over the top. That doesn’t stop the premise, unlikely as it is, from being cool as hell.
For Western aficionados who don’t mind alien outlaws in their shoot’em-ups. (Science fiction. 12-16)