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Why Westerns Appeal

Peacemaker-CR_webAt 14, when I started out reading Westerns, I wasn’t much of a critical reader, so I devoured them with an enormous but undiscriminating reading appetite. I didn’t understand the inherent sexism, or the fact that many of them were formulaic. Teenager me, was totally seduced by the landscape and the romance and the action. The notion of the male hero was appealing and entrancing. So was the tradition of courtly love – men prepared to die for their women, defend their honour, and ride to the ends of the earth to rescue them.

Reflecting upon that now makes me very uncomfortable. What was I thinking? And why does my attraction to the traditional Western still remain?

Well, there’s definitely a sense of nostalgia at play, a wistfulness that comes from the knowledge that the young, wide-eyed reader from those days no longer exists. But that’s not all. See, I love a sense of purpose and a sense of place in a novel. I’m really not one to meander around in someone else’s fictional world, content not to know where I’m going. Westerns get me somewhere. They also, in my experience, always have a deep connection with the landscape. The West itself, is a major player in the story, just like The City is often the silent protagonist in urban fantasy. In Westerns we not only get to look at the scenery, we get to experience how it makes it makes our hero’s life better, or worse, or sometimes both.

Then there’s the lawlessness. I’ve always been a fan of anarchical tales. In destroying or ignoring one set of rules, do we just build another? What’s the higher connection between morality and the law? How do we organise ourselves in times of chaos? All these are questions I’ve been exploring in other genres for a long time. It was only a matter of time before I re-visited them in the Western format — but with a brand new set of eyes.

GR author pic_web Marianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and award winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a bestselling teen dark fantasy series entitled Night Creatures. She lives in Brisbane, Australia. Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.


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