Owl Dance

Paperback, 276 pages

Published Nov. 21, 2021 by Hadrosaur Press.

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4 stars (1 review)

Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel. The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico, meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi, who is looking to make a new start after escaping the oppression of her homeland. When an ancient life form called Legion comes to Earth, they are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon's fast draw and Fatemeh's uncanny ability to communicate with owls. The question is, will that be enough to save them when airships from Czarist Russia invade the United States?

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A Fun Pulpy Romp

4 stars

I had a hard time rating this one. It's at its heart a pulp western, and I don't have much experience in that genre. The writing style was simple (lots of short declarative sentences) and in the third person, and that contrasts greatly with the more complex first person sci-fi I've read a lot of lately. It's probably not something I would have picked up, except for two things...

One, it's got a lot of steampunky alt-history elements to it. It's set in the late 1800s in the US Southwest (mostly), and it's nice to see steampunk stories that aren't set in Victorian England. Apart from an alien intelligence with mind control, it's a plausible alt-history. The alien influence affects why this history diverges from ours, but it does it through affecting people's motivations, not through introducing future tech. I liked that idea.

Second, it's largely set in a very …