Howdy, Cromrades! Where do we turn after our jaunt off-world to Arrakis? How about the Wild West? Saddle up and join us on our trip through the plains for stagecoach robberies, gunfights at high noon, and adventure!
Season 11: The Western Road
1. “Law-Shooters of Cowtown”- Robert E. Howard (Cross Plains 1974): An intro episode where we talk about our experiences with westerns and how REH started writing them as well. We’ll begin with a grim western that features Grizzly Elkins and a fist fight with a mob that is supposed to be quite memorable. (From End of the Trail (Bison Books)
2. “Stage to Lordsburg”- Ernest Haycox (Saturday Evening Post 1937): Called by some “the greatest stagecoach story ever written” this short story also served as the inspiration for John Ford’s “Stagecoach”. Haycox was a pulp writer who published two dozen novels and about 300 short stories and was an early pioneer of the western. University of Arizona PDF
3. “Old Garfield’s Heart”- Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales 1933): A focus on REH and his hand in creating the weird western. What has this genre offered us in pop culture. This story specifically focuses on an old Texas Pioneer gains immortality by replacing his heart with something from another world. Was adapted into a Conan story “Old Garrod’s Heart” in SSoC #203.
The Horror Stories of REH (Del Rey)
Black Stranger and Other American Tales (Bison Books)
Project Gutenberg Link
4. “A Man Called Horse”- Dorothy Johnson (Collier’s 1950): A rich Bostonian is enslaved by Crow Indians. While enslaved he eventually gains the respect of the tribe through cunning and bravery in battle. Eventually he takes the name “Horse” and falls in love with an Indian woman. PDF Link
5. “Trap of Gold”- Louis L’Amour (Argosy 1951): The master of the western, L’Amour was prolific in his production. How has the genre solidified 20-30 years after Howard was tinkering with it? This short story focuses on a prospector, Weatherton. Weatherton finds the dream of a lifetime, a vein richer in gold than he ever cared to imagine. He knew he had more than he needed, but he almost lost his senses - and his life - as the fever began to take control of him. PDF Link
6. Western Film Fest: The Cromcast talks western movies with a classic “The Wild Bunch” by Sam Peckinpah and a modern western “The Proposition” by John Hillcoat.
7. “Mountain Man”- Robert E. Howard (Action Stories 1934): Breckenridge Elkins is a lesser known but extremely important Howard creation. With 26 published stories, he was actually Howard’s most commercially viable and longest published character. His stories are called “funny westerns” and feature tall tale structure with printed Texan vernacular. We will be reading and analyzing his first appearance.
The Complete Action Stories (Wildside Press)
Riot at Bucksnort (Bison books)
8. “Vultures of Whapeton”- Robert E. Howard (Smashing Novels Magazine 1936): A conclusion to The Western Road, where we wrap up by talking about what is considered to be REH’s finest western story. Steve Corcoran, a Texas pistoleer, finds a job as deputy of the boom town of Wahpeton. At first, he doesn’t know that his boss is the secret head of the outlaw gang of “Vultures” who are preying on the town.
Vultures of Whapeton (Zebra Books)
Best of REH Vol 2: Grim Lands (Del Rey)
End of the Trail (Bison Books)
Project Gutenberg link