GUNFIGHT ON EUROPA STATION Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The wild west meets the final frontier. Alexander Wallace takes the wagon train to space.
Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek to the network by calling it ‘wagon train to the stars.’ In doing so, he continued in a long, honored line of science fiction drawing heavily from Western fiction; science fiction, after all, had its modern genesis in a time when western pulp fiction was still very much a popular genre. One of my favorite video game franchises, the Starcraft series, invokes this very deliberately in the Terrans. Today, we shall be discussing the most openly deliberate example of the intersection of these two genres: the anthology Gunfight on Europa Station, edited by David Boop, released in November 2021 and published by Baen Books.

This book gives you a panorama of the possibilities of the intersection of the two genres, one that is knowledgeable of at least some of the lesser-known aspects of the period. There’s one story that concerns a labor union formed in opposition to a mining company on a distant world, echoing the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado in 1914. There’s another one, perhaps my favorite in the anthology, that is a very modern retelling of the John Henry story in the far future (although a bit metaphorical), where frontier pluck meets corporate slickness.

There are some fairly well-known authors here that the well-read science fiction buff may have come across. Alan Dean Foster, perhaps best known for writing the novelization to the original Star Wars back in the seventies (and, interestingly, wrote the first novel based on a video game) brings you a tale of hardscrabble survival. Alex Shvartsman, previously interviewed on this site in our author talk feature, gives you a tale of hot pursuit. Wil McCarthy, also featured on author talk, presents you a tale of a man who perhaps would fit in better in the actual Old West making his way living on Mars in the future.

There was, admittedly, one disappointment for me in the collection, and it is something that I can’t really blame any of the authors or the editor for. The American West was a period of great change, especially for the people who were there before. There’s nothing engaging with the history of the expulsion and murder of the indigenous peoples of what would become the American West, and I feel there are still plentiful opportunities to explore this dynamic in a science fictional context (this is not to say I did not enjoy the anthology; I very much did). If Mr. Boop decides to create another anthology on this subject. I’d encourage him to consider this.

Gunfight on Europa Station is another creative anthology from Baen Books, which has delivered many times before. It’ll give you a home where the aliens roam - and it’s immense fun for it.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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