Saturday, July 11, 2009


I have a new story on Pulp Spirit #6. It is Jayhawker Ague, Bushwhacker Fever. The story is a Western albeit not the usual. In the 1850s, one of the main markets for Texas cattle was Sedalia, Missouri. That was where the railroad to the Northern states ended, thus it was where ranchers could drive cattle to sell to beef-hungry markets.

Of course Missouri in the 1850s was in the throes of a war between anti-slavery settlers in Kansas and pro-slavery settlers from the South known as "Bleeding Kansas." The rival factions were known as Jayhawkers (anti-slavery) and Border Ruffians or Bushwhackers (pro-slavery). Years ago I read R.H. Wilson's memoir With the Border Ruffians. Wilson was an Englishman who came to America and lived in the mountains of Virginia, tried settling in Kansas, and was a rancher in Texas during the 1850s and '60s. It gave me my first idea that the West was a good deal different from movie-Westerns.

Incidentally, I have long believed that the bitterness of "Bleeding Kansas" lingers on. I vividly recall Attorney General Ashcroft, a Missourian, announcing after 9/11, "We've secured the border with Kansas. I mean Canada."

Well of course. In their day men like James Lane, John Brown, and William Quantrill were regarded much as Osama bin Laden, George Bush and other GWOT luminaries: heroes dedicated to a principal to some, blood-thirsty fanatics to others. Though lacking the scope of our modern GWOT-warriors, they left a trail of death and destruction.

In this story, I have focused less on the politics than the economics of slavery, specifically the monetarization of people.

Pulp Spirit is a companion to Planetary Stories, their homepage is

-Dave Hardy


Charles Gramlich said...

Congrats. I just submitted a western story to an anthology myself. Haven't heard back yet.

Dave Hardy said...

Thanks! Right now there seems to be a bit of a window for Westerns. I'm having more success with my Westerns & pseudo-Westerns than my fantasy stuff.
Good luck on your sub!