Black Hats vs White Hats in Weird West Fiction: Can Evil Win the Shootout?


Weird West Fiction. Is it western fiction? Horror fiction?

I think it’s both, and can include other genres as well, including supernatural, sci-fi and other “otherworldly” genres.

Except each genre has its own tropes, its own themes, its own rules.

Traditionally, westerns have a distinctive moral code. The Law of the West. The good guy may give his life fight for the right, but even in his death there is a sense of the scales being set to right, of justice, order, balance being restored. The individual strives to bring order out of chaos, civilization out of wilderness.

And if darkness does manage to prevail in a minority of stories, it’s meant to be a cautionary tale. So by the negative example, the positive is reinforced.

Horror doesn’t have to stick by that moral code. The goal is to generate fear, so there are a whole lot of horror stories that end with evil triumphing. The hero’s efforts to stem the tide are futile.

That doesn’t sit well with many fans of westerns.

What do you think? Is there a “rule” about the depiction of good and evil in Weird West stories?

About Patrick Dornhttp://patrickdorn.wordpress.comPlaywright, Fiction Writer, Theatre Critic.

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