The sci-fi western is probably my favorite (incredibly niche) genre. I grew up watching old cowboy movies with my grandparents, but I didn’t realize my love for the genre until watching the sadly short-lived Firefly. Since then, I’ve devoured Copperhead, Vermilion and of course, Wynonna EarpIf these titles have piqued your interest, I have a few more suggestions that will be right up your alley.

Books and Graphic Novels: 

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

2018’s Trail of Lightning is a gritty urban fantasy set in Dinétah, the nation of the Navajo people, in an imminent post-apocalyptic future. Due to a convergence of global warming and other ecological disasters, most of the world is underwater, and portals to other worlds have opened. The gods and monsters of Navajo legends are now an active part of the world. People feel safe in Dinétah, protected by its magical walls, but that all changes when a creature steals a child from one of the villages within.

Enter Maggie Hoskie, the novel’s protagonist and a monster bounty hunter. She’s an enigma when we first meet her, and she’s cagey about her past. Maggie is tough as nails, using powers inherited from her ancestors to deftly kill monsters. She reminds me a lot of Wynonna Earp, although she’s a lot more no-nonsense than the Earp Heir. With a sequel already out and two more on the way, this is the perfect sci-fi western to keep you busy for a while.

RELATED: A Review of Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

Artwork for Pretty Deadly.
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos

Loosely set in the 19th-century American frontier, Pretty Deadly combines horror, westerns and magical realism. The plot draws heavily on the aesthetics of folklore and mythology, giving readers the sense that they’re reading a fable. The series is, after all, narrated by a dead rabbit and his butterfly friend. The two tell the story of a young girl named Sissy, who travels with a blind storyteller, and Deathface Ginny, a mythological figure who is the daughter of Death himself and a reaper of vengeance.

SyFy Wire’s Karama Horne describes the series as “an extended metaphor … that explores the concepts of death, life and purpose through the eyes of deities and spirits, taking place in a space where time is relative and entire lifetimes can pass by in a few pages.”

Pretty Deadly doesn’t romanticize the Old West. It’s clearly a brutal period and the characters are quick to show their savage side. The women in this story are flawed but powerful, and this is definitely a book that rewards those that give it a second read. Wynonna fans will appreciate the dynamic and compelling female characters, as well as some truly fabulous gun-slinging. 

East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

Death — of the Four Horsemen — has broken away from his crew, fallen in love and had everything taken from him. Now, he’s out for revenge.

East of West is set in a future with Wild West flair. It’s part alternate reality, and dystopian yet pre-apocalyptic. The mythology of the series goes hand in hand with a lot of Wynonna Earp’s mythos. Gods and legends come to life, demonic religious fanatics cause trouble and heroic rangers kill without remorse. Then, there’s the world-ending prophecy, some shapeshifting and all of the gun-slinging theatrics you’ve come to expect from a sci-fi western. 

Movies and Shows: 

Actress Sophie Thatcher dressed in a blue, black, and white space-suit holding a gun in a scene from the 2018 movie Prospect.

Prospect directed and written by Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl

I saw Prospect in a tiny indie theater. It was the first time I’d gone to the movies alone. This was the perfect way to watch this low budget, down-to-earth space thriller. It isn’t a large story. Instead, it’s about the life of one girl trying to survive a horrible situation. The film follows Cee and her dad as they hunt for gems on a forest moon, a dangerous task for a precious reward. Things quickly get ugly when they encounter an outlaw named Ezra, a suspicious stranger who speaks with a southern drawl. The now eponymous Pedro Pascal plays Ezra with just the right amount of charm, intimidation and world-weariness.

Prospect certainly doesn’t have the tone or style of Wynonna Earp. However, it’s definitely a space-western unlike any other. The film’s title comes from the word prospect’s old-fashioned definition. The characters all seek their fortune in a Gold-Rush-esque fashion, and there’s no law out on these dangerous moons. The technology is all analog and everything looks lived in, to the point of being grimy and run down. This is the perfect underrated movie for fans of science-fiction, westerns and Pedro Pascal.

Westworld created by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan

At this point, almost everyone has heard of Westworld. Seasons are few and far between, so it’s best to pace yourself as you work through it. Besides, you’ll probably need to re-watch scenes (or even entire episodes) to truly understand what’s going on.

The series starts fairly straightforward with a western-style theme park populated by nearly perfect, life-like robots for rich people to play with. Some of them, however, start to go off script and think for themselves. The show quickly gets philosophical and complicated but stays true to its Wild-West setting for much of the first two seasons. Westworld as a theme park gives viewers 1800s aesthetics combined with futuristic technology in a twisty and intriguing way. It might not be apparent in the first few episodes, but the women run the show in this one and, like Wynonna, don’t take much nonsense from anyone.

There you have it! Five sci-fi westerns to help you pass the time until Wynonna Earp’s fourth season returns. Was your favorite mentioned or do you have some more to share? Let us know in the comments!

RELATED: Wynonna Earp Midseason Finale Recap

This article was originally published on 11/20/20

 

Alex Faccibene
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