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Space western

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Space Western is a genre of science fiction that transposes themes of American western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers.

Contents

"The Final Frontier" as a backdrop

This term doesn't have anything to do with wearing cowboy hats and roping steers. It supposes that the future of space exploration will be much like the taming of the old west in the United States of America.

This "frontier stories" view of the future is only one of many ways to look at space exploration, and not one that is held in high regard by scientists and futurologists like Raymond Kurzweil, who assert that humans will evolve past the need for rocket ships in the near future.

The Turkey City Lexicon, a document produced by the Turkey City science fiction writers' workshop, condemns the space western as "The most pernicious suite of 'Used Furniture' [that is, use of a pre-established background instead of a freshly created world]. The grizzled space captain swaggering into the spacer bar and slugging down a Jovian brandy, then laying down a few credits for a space hooker to give him a Galactic Rim Job."

Galaxy ran an ad on its back cover, "You won't find it in Galaxy", which gave the beginnings of make-believe parallel western and sf stories featuring a character named Bat Durston. From this ad stemed the derisive term "Bat Durston" to refer to the subgenre. A Bat Durston is always a derogatory term, indicating that the entire story could be transplanted to the West without more than cosmetic changes. If the story uses Western motifs but contains a speculative element that can not be removed without redoing the plot, it may be a Space Western but not a Bat Durston.

Differences in Science Fiction genres

Space western differs from Western science fiction in that it has Western frontier themes in an Outer space setting rather than Science fiction themes in a Western setting.

Examples

The influence of Westerns on Gene Roddenberry's original concept for Star Trek can be seen in the series' opening narration, "Space, the final frontier...". Roddenberry described Star Trek to network executives as "Wagon Train to the stars."

One recent hybrid of Westerns and science fiction is the television series Firefly and its cinematic follow-up Serenity. This series not only used Western ideas such as the lawless frontier and the spiritually wounded veteran, but also included Western elements in costuming, design and dialogue. The back-story of Firefly has been called a deliberate echo of the post-Civil War setting of many Westerns, with a hero who fought for the losing side.

Anime

Cowboy Bebop
Outlaw Star
Trigun
Wild ARMs
Gun X Sword

Film

The American Astronaut
Bravestarr: The Legend
Galaxina
Moon Zero Two
Outland
Serenity
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - the scenes on Nimbus III are heavily influenced by Westerns

References


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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.