Ep. 57: Westerns — the Original American Fantasy Genre

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image-11In this episode, we talk about Westerns — a genre that we believe should be filed under “fantasy” when talking about all the other speculative fiction genres.

We talk about why the Western tends to be a genre fans of sci-fi/fantasy enjoy.

We talk about the attraction of the Western to Christians.

We explore titles like “The Man with No Name” trilogy, Gunsmoke, The Postman, and many, many more.

We spoil the ending (sort of) of The Shakiest Gun in the West.

And we ruminate on the metaphors that the Western is uniquely suited to explore.

We had a lot of fun recording this one, and hope you enjoy listening!

Agree? Disagree? We want to hear from you!!! Call us, with your phone — 1-804-37-ALIEN! Email us, perhaps ALSO with your phone — podcast@strangersandaliens.com! Like on Facebook (using, maybe, your phone) — http://facebook.com/strangersandaliens








8 responses to “Ep. 57: Westerns — the Original American Fantasy Genre”

  1. Ryan Avatar

    Hmm. westerns clearly perpetuate some ridiculous gun myths, but those old weapons were neither inaccurate, nor limited to 100 yards in range. perhaps a little more research is in order?

    1. Ben Avatar

      If we have the distances wrong, I apologize. The point wasn’t if a pre-revolutionary war rifle had a range of 100 or 300 yards (numbers I did make up), it was that heroes like Natty Bumpo were larger than life. For a better take on the ridiculousness of Coopers writing, check out Mark Twain’s essay.

      As for the old west weaponry, they obviously had to have some accuracy in order to be effective weapons, but the Western, like all speculative fiction, adds two magic qualities:

      1. They are far more accurate than real life if you are a good guy or an awesome bounty hunter type anti-hero (unless, as awesome bounty hunter type, you are going up against #2);

      2. They are far less accurate than in real life if you are a bad guy, and even if you do manage to hit a good guy it will be in the leg, arm, or shoulder, because of the magic good guy shield, unless you are a bad guy lucky enough to go up against the main good guy’s motivational sacrificial lamb! 🙂

    2. Ben Avatar

      And you want to talk about research not being in order? Forget the distances of Hawkeye’s gun — I’m glad my frontier literature prof doesn’t listen and hear me bumble through Leatherstocking’s name! I have gone back and looked it up (The Trapper, Natty Bumppo, Leatherstocking, Hawkeye, etc.) . . . but to confuse him with the girl in sticking out pigtails? Yikes!

      1. Ben Avatar

        To be fair, that WAS fall of 1992!

  2. Dr. Jayce Avatar

    Actually many of the 6 shooters were limited to 30 yards.

    1. Ben Avatar

      I looked it up, Jayce, and I was wrong. The rifle Hawkeye would have used in the Leatherstocking era had an accurate range of about 100 yards for the average user. If you were a highly skilled user, the range extends to more than 200 yards, and with a well made, new rifle in the hands of an extremely skilled user could be accurate up to 300 yards.

      It’s on me.

      1. Dr. Jayce Avatar

        I was merely talking about the older six shooters not having the distance that often appears to movies…etc.

  3. Don Ensign Avatar
    Don Ensign

    Perhaps my all time classic favorite western TV series was Have Gun Will Travel (1957-1963) with Richard Boone playing the gentleman gun-for-hire, Paladin. I saw this as a kid and in recent years have collected the DVDs. Only season 6 is unavailable on DVD. Paladin was a “knight without armor in a savage land” who used a business card, quote Shakespeare and the Bible and often did his jobs for nothing though his usual fee was $1000. He was a tough guy but he had a moral center and code. He was a hired gun but not a hired killer though he often shot several bad guys per episode. He’s probably agree with real-life Texas gunman, John Wesley Hardin who said “I never killed anyone who didn’t need killing.” Boone was a great actor and made the role his own and Gene Roddenberry wrote several episode. Have Gun tackled race and religious prejudice and had stories dealing with former slaves, Mexicans, Native Americans and historical incidences. A well written, produced and acted and enjoyable series.

    Perhaps the my favorite “recent” western movie was “Tombstone.” Val Kilmer was perhaps the best movie Doc Holliday of all time. This movie can bear up under repeated viewings and has many great scenes and characters. Even Charlton Heston puts in a short appearance.

    Good episode, guys.

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