This thoroughly engaging tall tale is populated by cattle-rustlers, gamblers, codgers, Indians – and aliens. Ostensibly the reminiscences of the “author’s” great-great grandfather, the book recounts the adventures (or more accurately, mis-adventures) of Rufus T. Breckenridge III, beginning in 1890, when he was 25 years old and driving mules in Reno, Nevada.
Mysteries pile up as Rufus tracks Willie Snowshoe, who owes him money and stole his horse. He meets Two Dogs, an older Indian with shamanic skill, and they become begrudging traveling companions. Strange lights in the sky, odd energies, peculiar occurrences – and especially the sense that there’s somewhere he’s supposed to be – all contribute to Rufus’s acceptance of the extremely unusual activities he discovers when he arrives in Walking Horse, Arkansas. The town is in the middle of nowhere, yet has more modern conveniences than most big cities. The town council is made up of nearly identical men who seem to have been waiting for Rufus so they can make him sheriff. Although the town has been peaceful for the last 100 years, they know that trouble is coming.
While this story shares elements with the graphic novel and movie Cowboys and Aliens, the resemblance is only in the juxtaposition of extra-terrestrials and the Old West. The story is far more of a picaresque “shaggy-dog” than an explosive science fiction adventure.
The cover and jacket blurb make no secret that aliens are at work here, but the storytelling is so charming and the twists and turns so surprising that it doesn’t matter that the reader understands what is going on before the characters do. Typos sometimes distract and Rufus’s quick acceptance of the idea of aliens is surprising, but these quibbles don’t affect the reading pleasure. The narrator is utterly winning, and the many side-adventures and backstories add to the delight of this humorous story.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.