A fast, fun, genre mash-up, Guns of Seneca 6 by Bernard Schaffer (@ApiarySociety) is a perfect Summer Read that would entertain readers anytime of the year. I loved it and devoured the book in just two days.
Part Science Fiction, part Western and all-out adventure, much of the action in Guns takes place on the planet Seneca, where colonizers in the settlement of Seneca 6 mine the desolate and barren landscape for severian, one of the most precious substances in the universe.
Fans of the (too) short-lived TV show Firefly will feel comfortable in this universe, where sheriffs and marshals strap on six-shooters wired with electronic sights and auto-targeting to battle against outlaws and rampaging natives. In fact, a raid of Seneca 6 by the Beothuk, the native people of Seneca who have been repeatedly lied to and cheated by the newcomers to their planet (sound familiar?), starts the story and informs much of the rest of the plot. As always, I won’t say much more for fear of spoiling the fun for future readers.
And Guns of Seneca 6 is a whole lot of fun.
Even without the cool and interesting elements of Sci-Fi in Guns, which include alien creatures and spaceships, I believe it would work just as well as a straight-up Western if Mr. Schaffer had decided to go that way. While reading I recalled themes and scenes reminiscent of such oaters as Open Range (one of my all-time favorite movies), Rio Bravo, High Noon, Unforgiven, Shane, any number of the tellings of the “Gunfight at the OK Corral” and the TV show Deadwood.
Schaffer’s diverse cast of characters is well-drawn and intelligent, and although many are staples of the Western genre — the old and wizened marshal, the strong-willed woman considered a spinster at the advanced age of 36, the brutal and amoral outlaw brothers, and the conflicted hero on the run from his past — Schaffer’s take on each is fresh and interesting. The reader quickly becomes invested in what happens to them.
And what happens to them is … fun, interesting, exciting, thrilling, and did I say fun?
As a reader I look forward to each new novel I load on my Kindle Fire, but even so it is always special and welcome when I encounter a read like Guns that grabs me and pulls me so deeply into the story that I spend each free moment finding out what happens next. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some fun and exciting novels over the past year and I’d place Guns of Seneca 6 very high on my list of favorites.
I highly recommend Guns of Seneca 6 to anyone looking for a great read, perfect for the beach, vacation, or anytime to be honest. Looking at Mr. Schaffer’s website and blog, I see he has written a prequel and a sequel, as well as some other novels that look very, very interesting.
My To Read List just got that much longer, and I love it.