by Jo Jordan (Heliosphere Books)
Calamity is a Wild, Weird West version of the story of Calamity Jane, “Being an account of Calamity Jane and her gunslinging green man.” Her “green man” is an alien, one of two species visiting earth, and he has antennae and huge eyes, odd powers, and rather better strength and reflexes than humans. He’s also a dead shot, and wants off earth while dishonest humans want his tech—especially the space ship he plans to travel home on. When something happens to that ship, something also happens to Jane, and she tags along…and eventually becomes his partner, a fellow longrider, and a dead shot who can more than take care of herself.
The novel is presented in three books where she recounts her adventures to a newspaperman, but you quickly get lost in the first person nature of her fights for survival and for her Green Man, to help him get off earth. I devoured this in one sitting, and I’m not even fond of Westerns.
Every single western cliché you’ve ever read gets turned on its head, but it does not feel like artifice. It feels very real: a hell of a trick for the author to pull off in his debut novel.