Posted on September 20, 2004 by Flames
Edited by Shane Lacy Hensley
Written by Joe Lansdale, Shane Lacy Hensley, Matt Forbeck, Susan & Clay Griffith, John Goff, Lucien Soulban, Ginger R. Senter, Rob Vaux, Zach Bush, Chris Snyder, Don DeBrandt and Hal Mangold, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, December 1999, 207 pgs.
Enter the world of Deadlands, where abominations prowl the High Plains, the dead walk, and vengeance is sometimes served colder than the grave. This second volume in the Anthology with No Name includes 11 more twisted tales of the Weird West.
The combination of Horror and Westerns does take a little getting used to. The Foreword to this volume, written by Joe Lansdale, explains the appeal of both genres and how they might work when mixed together. Deadlands explores these themes, mixing elements from TV shows, movies and comic books in a bizarre, but workable, adventure. The fiction in this volume explores the living and the dead, good and evil, drama and humor.
There is a nice two-page introduction to Deadlands just before the stories begin. It offers up information on the arrival of the Manitous and the points at which the supernatural invaded the West. This primer is invaluable for those unfamiliar with the backstory of the Deadlands and makes reading the stories much easier.
The short stories that make up this volume are fitting to the world of Deadlands, and range in quality from very entertaining to pointless. Obviously part two of a three-part series of anthologies, some of the tales in this volume are continuing stories, which then go on to finish up in the next volume. Some introduce interesting characters, ones that might make great antagonists for a group of Deadlands PCs. Exploring different regions of the Deadlands, these tales offer a variety of mysteries and pit the protagonists against foes both supernatural and mundane.
Lucien Soulban’s “No Man’s Law” offers a tale of young Eli Woodrow, a stagecoach robber who is way out of his league. Eli gets himself caught in the middle of a mysterious plot and a nasty doublecross. The best parts of this tale have nothing to do with the supernatural and everything to do with human greed and sin.
Zach Bush offers up a ghost tale of sorrow and vengeance called “Nuna Daul Tsuny” about atrocities done to a Cherokee girl who now haunts the plains seeking her lost innocence. Tragic and eerie, this story proves that not all horror in the Deadlands is about gore and monsters.
The editing and grammar in this volume are poor to say the least, with many mistakes that should have been caught early on. There is no interior art to break up the tales, which could have added mood and depth to the information offered up in the stories.
All in all, this volume has a couple of stories worth reading, but isn’t essential to enjoying the Deadlands RPG. It does give readers a chance to see some short fiction by several of the industry’s more popular creators.
Reviewer: Matt M McElroy
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