When Horses Fly

by wjw on January 31, 2023

I suppose because I was the most junior person on board, I was first through the hatch, and then I just gaped.

The smell struck me first, horse dung and horse sweat and horse panic and horse urine, all blended into a primeval acid reek that scalded the back of my throat. And then there was the demented sight of a dozen or more horses thrashing in zero gravity, legs kicking, eyes starting, foam flying from their nostrils, teeth bared, manes flying… They kicked at each other, at the walls, and at the three or four wranglers who were nearly as helpless as the horses. 

Vittuperkele, I thought.

So a while back anthologist David Boop asked me to contribute a story to an anthology of space westerns. My initial response was not exactly positive, because I had the impression that I was staring into a void chock-full of cliches, without an obvious way out. And then I realized that I not only had an idea, it was an idea that would kind of turn the concept inside-out.

So I wrote the story “West. World.” about a group of people living in a space habitat who were trying to make a western film. Complete with horses that had to be shipped up from Earth, and which didn’t react well to being cut adrift in zero gravity.

It’s a largely comic story, filled with satire about the sort of people who make high-concept big-budget movies. And it’s chock-full of authentic details, like why most people in the Wild West wore derby hats, and why roping a horse in zero gee will just put you in orbit around an enraged animal. And you will also discover that a perfectly genuine job title in the movies is “Second Second Assistant Director.”

And if my story doesn’t set your dinner gong a-ringin’, there are ten other imaginative authors working their changes on the idea.

High Noon on Proxima B goes on sale on February 7. Snag it with your lasso and take it home.

Steinar Bang February 5, 2023 at 12:44 pm

Looked like a Baen book, and yep it is:

Which is very nice, since that means I can buy an epub for my Sony reader, without going by amazon kindle.

(I count any business I can do without going by amazon for a good thing)

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