Gunsmoke and Dragonfire (Aradia Publishing, 2019) edited by Diane Morrison is an anthology of stories that mash up fantasy with westerns, resulting in a collection of 25 stories where the good guys don’t always ride white horses … but they might ride good dragons.
Many of the stories in this anthology are reprints, including a classic Solomon Kane story from Robert E. Howard, “Rattle of Bones.” A few of the stories are novella length or longer, and many are set in worlds where the authors have written other stories or longer pieces.
With so many stories to choose from, there were a lot that grabbed my attention. Sara Codair’s “Red Tide Rising” is a little more in the sci-fi end of the universe of speculative fiction, but their well-written characters and clever plot made this story work well within the confines of the anthology. I also enjoyed the plotting and world building in Zach Chapman’s “Rick and the Green Gunslinger,” where spells are etched into bullets and cast by firing a gun.
Liam Hogan’s “Pinkerton” had a really fun twist on the idea that the Pinkertons always get their man, and Jude-Marie Green’s “Glorious Madness” is a delightful retelling of Don Quixote. I also liked R. Daniel Lester’s “The Sound of One Shoe Tapping” both for the clever title and as a nice compact story that worked perfectly at its brief length. Finally, I found “Fallen Horseshoes” by G. Scott Huggins to be wonderfully atmospheric and creepy, while “Balthazar Beausoliel’s Blink Wolf Badger” by Paul Alex Gray was an action-packed romp with a real sense of the peril the main character faced.
If you enjoy westerns with fantasy (and sometimes sci-fi) elements, ranging from steampunk to magic and beyond, you’ll likely find a new favorite or several among the stories in Gunsmoke and Dragonfire!
The publisher provided us with a free copy of this anthology in exchange for review consideration.Follow us online: