Cowboys & Aliens by Joan D Vinge — book review

Cowboys & Aliens by Joan D Vinge. Tor ‘7.99

Reviewed by Mike Chinn

Now you’d think that a novelisation based on a movie featuring the titular cowboys blazing away at aliens would be a non-stop roller-coaster ride. So what happened?

It begins with our hero waking up in the New Mexican desert, naked but for a strange metal bracelet around his wrist and no idea how he got there, or who he is (a real Man with No Name). After killing and stripping a convenient trio of bad-asses, he finds himself in the town of Absolution.

(Incidently, there’s little subtlety to names in this book ‘ the loner turns out to be called Lonergan, a gold-obsessed rancher is Dolarhyde; I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t so unlikely sounding. And there’s not a Western clich’ left untouched; I really hope it’s deliberate.)

When the aliens finally arrive and snatch up half the town’s population it’s all curiously distant. Author Vinge spends so much time in Lonergan’s head ‘ agonising over his self-doubt ‘ it’s like we’re viewing the attack through the wrong end of a telescope. In a set-piece an escaped alien carves its way through a pursuing posse. It should be edge of the seat stuff, but I really couldn’t bring myself to care.

Too much introspection; not enough action. At the time of writing I haven’t seen the movie ‘ but I hope it has more to recommend it than the novelisation.

Cowboys & Aliens by Joan D Vinge. Tor ‘7.99

Reviewed by Mike Chinn

Now you’d think that a novelisation based on a movie featuring the titular cowboys blazing away at aliens would be a non-stop roller-coaster ride. So what happened?

It begins with our hero waking up in the New Mexican desert, naked but for a strange metal bracelet around his wrist and no idea how he got there, or who he is (a real Man with No Name). After killing and stripping a convenient trio of bad-asses, he finds himself in the town of Absolution.

(Incidently, there’s little subtlety to names in this book ‘ the loner turns out to be called Lonergan, a gold-obsessed rancher is Dolarhyde; I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t so unlikely sounding. And there’s not a Western clich’ left untouched; I really hope it’s deliberate.)

When the aliens finally arrive and snatch up half the town’s population it’s all curiously distant. Author Vinge spends so much time in Lonergan’s head ‘ agonising over his self-doubt ‘ it’s like we’re viewing the attack through the wrong end of a telescope. In a set-piece an escaped alien carves its way through a pursuing posse. It should be edge of the seat stuff, but I really couldn’t bring myself to care.

Too much introspection; not enough action. At the time of writing I haven’t seen the movie ‘ but I hope it has more to recommend it than the novelisation.