The Doctor and the Kid: A fun-filled romp through the Wild West

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Doctor and the Kid by Mike ResnickThe Doctor and the Kid by Mike Resnick

The Doctor and the Kid is the second novel in Mike Resnick’s WEIRD WEST TALES. I haven’t read the first book, The Buntline Special, but I could follow the events and characters just fine. The Doctor and the Kid works well as a stand-alone, though I probably would have had more attachment to the characters and the events if I had read The Buntline Special first. The only place where my lack of background was evident was with descriptions of the Buntline itself. I could never quite picture what exactly it was and I’m sure I wouldn’t have had that problem if I’d read The Buntline Special first.

The Doctor and the Kid is filled with characters that even those unfamiliar with the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral will recognize — characters such as Doc Holiday, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and even Thomas Edison. Doc Holiday is dying from consumption and decides to settle in the mountains of Colorado to die. He gambles away the money he had set aside to pay for his sanatorium stay and decides that a good way to earn it back would be as a bounty hunter. The man who has the biggest bounty on his head is Billy the Kid, and with this setup, Doc Holiday goes to New Mexico, and eventually back to the town of Tombstone.

This book isn’t deep or profound. It’s a fun-filled romp through the Wild West, complete with familiar characters, fast-paced action and even magical Indians who work at keeping America from spreading west. The Doctor and the Kid will appeal to readers who want something a bit more popcorn than anything else. I read the whole thing on a day when I needed to ease up and detach from the world, and it hit the spot.

Resnick really makes the Doctor shine. He’s a unique and complex character. He’s a killer, a gambler and a chronic drunk, but he also strictly adheres to a code of honor. His point-blank discussion(s) of his own death tend to make others uncomfortable. Furthermore, Billy the Kid, a rugged outlaw, is also humanized quite a bit. The Kid is a young man who is quite likable until his temper flares. Thus, Resnick gives interesting insight to two larger-than-life historical figures.

As I mentioned before, The Doctor and the Kid is filled with nonstop action and plenty of steampunk flare. While occasionally the action (especially toward the end) does get a little overly predictable and over-the-top, the rest of the book makes up for it. This book doesn’t focus on the infamous gunfight, but what happens after. This is, perhaps, what allows Resnick to use a bit more imagination. Nearly everyone knows about the gunfight, but how many people really know what happened in the lives of the individuals after? Resnick’s spin is a fun steampunk adventure through the fabled Wild West. (A small aside: It’s worth the reader’s time to read the historical details Resnick includes in the back of the book.)

Weird West Tales — (2010-2013) Publisher: Welcome to a West like you’ve never seen before, where electric lights shine down on the streets of Tombstone, while horseless stagecoaches carry passengers to and fro, and where death is no obstacle to The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo. Think you know the story of the O.K. Corral? Think again, as five-time Hugo winner Mike Resnick takes on his first steampunk western tale, and the West will never be the same.

Mike Resnick Weird West Tales: The Buntline SpecialThe Doctor and the KidMike Resnick Weird West Tales: The Buntline Special 2. The Doctor and the Kid 3. The Doctor and the Rough Riderfantasy and science fiction book reviews


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SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.

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One comment

  1. I’ve been eye-balling this series for a while now. Nice review.

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