The frontier. The edge of civilisation. So far from the central government that laws are more like ‘guidelines’. Where the sheriffs are crooked and the criminals ruthless; trains rarely go un-sacked and the cattle drive never goes to plan. Oh, and don’t forget the drought. Life on the frontier is never easy. But what about life on the final frontier? 

Westerns were a popular and established genre by the time the first Western hit cinemas in 1903 with The Great Train Robbery. But it’s the 50s and 60s we remember most when we reminisce on the genre. And while there’s a lot to love, women often get a raw deal, if they happen to appear at all. 

Many modern westerns have done little to critically engage with their heritage, though some progress is being made. But what about genre mashups? Science fiction westerns have grown in popularity, from traditional tropes like the gunslinger appearing in Star Wars to all-out mixed genre vehicles such as Firefly.

Are scifi westerns giving us a frontier friendlier to women? What about other minorities? In this episode, we are joined by author Stark Holborn, whose latest novel Ten Low is a scifi western with a queernorm society and women featured front and centre!

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Prospect (2018)
  • Meek’s Cutoff (2010)
  • ’49-’17 (1917)
  • First Cow (2019)
  • The Homesman (2014)
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek
  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (2017)
  • Firefly
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  • Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh
  • Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman
  • How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
  • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Outlawed by Anna North

Stark Holborn is the author of Nunslinger – the first ever digital serial published by Hodder & Stoughton – as well as the novella series Triggernometry and the SF-western, Ten Low. As well as writing about westerns for Pornokitsch and Screen Queens, Stark works as a games writer for clients like the BBC, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Stark is currently a lead writer on the SF-noir detective game Shadows of Doubt.