Words To That Effect #46 | Weird Westerns

In a way it’s maybe strange that the western is such a prominent genre. Given it’s connected to such a specific time and place – the mid-to-late 19th century, American west – why are we all so familiar with the many tropes of the western? Cowboys and Indians, shootouts and saloons, cattle rustlers and sheriffs, tumbleweed and canyons?

The western has a particular hold on the popular imagination, partly for reasons of historical and cultural influence, but ultimately because of its supreme adaptability, its capacity to mingle and merge with other genres.

Which is where the “weird western” comes in. The weird western is a term given to works that blend classic western tropes with other aspects speculative literature: so generally science fiction, horror, or fantasy. It’s a hybrid genre and there are plenty of hybrids: space westerns, steampunk westerns, supernatural and horror westerns, time travel westerns, westerns drawing on Afrofuturism and indigenous futurism, and many, many more.

On this week’s episode I chat to Dr Sara Spurgeon about westerns past, present, and future, from the classic to the very weird indeed.

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