SpaceWesterns -- space opera meets horse opera is an online fiction magazine filled with stories that blend themes from western fiction with science fiction, including long-running serials. There's some really lovely stuff here -- the genres mesh surprisingly well at times. They've just reprinted my 1998 story Craphound, the first professional sale I ever made, which is about an alien with a yard-sale jones who discovers that he really, really likes old time cowboy toys. Link

See also: Space Western limerick contest-winners


  1. A number of years ago, artist Sunny Buick curated a gallery show, at 111 Minna in San Francisco, called “Sci-Fi Western,” in honor of all things Space Western. Anyway, the show’s catalog (appropriately titled Sci-Fi Western) is definitely required reading-and-viewing for anyone who is interested in the totally organic confluence of B-movie disciplines.

  2. I can’t think of a better example of Sci-Fi Westerns than Firefly.

    Man that show was great. Wish they’d make a second season. Sadly my guess is that will never happen.

  3. First lecture of my English degree? Space fiction is not a proper genre. According to my distinguished professors, Space fiction and Western are the same genre, differentiated only by syntagmatic elements such as lasers or colt pistols. Paradagmatically, they are identical, in dealing with the exploration of an as yet semi-lawless frontier. I use space fiction instead of Sci-fi, because obviously not all Sci-fi has anythin to do with space. My take was my professor was thinking more Star Trek than Star Wars, since the main story in Star Wars takes place within a political framework unknown to the Western. Or alternatively, Star Wars is western from the perspective of the native tribes. But the idea is both genres consist of taking strongly individual characters and placing them in situations with as much freedom as possible, hence turning every decision they make emphatically into a psychological one. Brilliant.

    Famously space and western were combined in the Red Dwarf episode Four Gunmen of the Apocalypse, probably available on the internet, and highly recommended.

  4. Star Trek = Wagon Train In Space.

    “Wagon Train’s a really cool show, but did you notice they never get anywhere? They just keep wagon training.”

    -Gordie Lachance

    Star Wars = Kurosawa In Space (well, the good Star Wars)

    Kurosawa in the Old West = The Magnificent Seven



    …um, I forgot where I was going with that. Someone, take the baton and keep running!

  5. My dad’s a patent attorney, so I figure I got into electronics/computers from reading patent applications and court rulings he brought home, and when visiting his office.

    In 9th grade, reading the copyright-lawsuit Federal court ruling in Star Wars vs. Battlestar Galactica, was notable/influential for me… especially the characterization of BG as essentially a Western, and therefore not at all the same as Star Wars (not fully referenced here, but couldn’t find the fulltext offhand):

    Glen Larson commented on the differences between the two in Science Fantasy Film Classics (October 1978): Battlestar Galactica is quite different. When it comes to who are our characters and what our story is, I would have to say that if you were trying to compare Shane to Gunfight at the OK Corral, you’d say, “Yes, they’re both westerns,” but I doubt if you’d find many parallels beyond that.

  6. Somebody already beat me to it, but yes – Firefly is a classic example of the space western. Absolutely awesome show that never got a chance. I guess it’s no Cops, right Fox? Sigh… At any rate, #3, it’s pretty established that Serenity was Whedon’s last foray into that world. But fret not, you can still get your Nathan Fillion fix if you watch Desperate Housewives! :/

  7. There was also a sci-fi/Western cartoon years back called Galaxy Rangers. I used to love it as a kid.

  8. Leiji Matsumoto’s Captain Harlock manga/anime character belongs somewhere in all this. He appears in “standard” space operas (such as Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Arcadia of My Youth), in space operas with space-going trains and frontier planets that look like the Old West (the Galaxy Express 999 movie), and in the actual Old West (Gun Frontier).

  9. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Cowboy BeBop yet. Spaceships + western motif + the coolest soundtrack in all of anime.

    While Star Trek was originally described as “Wagon Train in space”, that doesn’t really sum it up. For one thing, you had the three-way political tension among the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans, which resembled the 20th century Cold War far more than it did the conflicts between the Native Americans and the European settlers. For another, you had those encounters with monsters and petulant space gods, which were more like something out of Greek mythology.

  10. I put scans, a while back, from a 1952 issue of a Charlton comic, Space Western,” on my flickr page. There’s a front cover and an 8-page story that also involves a group of “fen” holding their “DesCon” at Spurs Jackson’s ranch. Hot stuff, aided by Stan Campbell’s art, which varies from adequate to pretty solid.

  11. (#17) Avram, I was about to but you beat me to it. I’ve had DJ friends play tracks from CB OST to a full house of jazz afficionados, with very good results.

  12. Mike Resnick wrote several very good sci-fi novels using space western themes – the Widowmaker series and the Santiago books. Find ’em and read ’em.

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