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The Vultures of Whapeton
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Steve Goble Anyone else in the group read this? I just finished it. The title story didn't do it for me at all -- I found Steve Corcoran to be just too much of a perfectly skilled gunman with nerves of steel who can gun down any number of hombres without breaking a sweat -- but I enjoyed the other three stories, especially "Wild Water." It was sort of horrific because it hit on the evils of unbridled greed trampling on the common man, etc.

Anyone else have thoughts on this book?

message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments It's been a lot of years since I read this. I have an old Zebra edition around. I can't say I remember the other stories at all, though. I'll try to glance at it when I get home tonight.

message 3: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments IIRC, I prefered the alternate ending to "The Vultures of Whapeton." "Wild Water" was a superior story, though, for exactly the reasons you give. What other stories are in your copy? I have the story (with both endings) in The End of the Trail: Western Stories.

Steve Goble Vincent: The other stories in my edition are "Showdown at Hell's Canyon" and "Drums of the Sunset," neither of which is great but both of which are enjoyable.

message 5: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I've read them both, but I don't remember them well.

message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments The afterword in my Zebra copy of The Vultures Of Whapeton by Robert E. Howard says that the cover story was based on Hendry (as spelled in the book) Brown, one of the guys with Billy the Kid in the Lincoln County war. Lord reproduced part of REH's letter & his account varies quite a bit from the Wikipedia version of the same man.

Still, the main idea that he was an outlaw turned lawman turned outlaw is the same. Very interesting the way REH romanticized the image & pulled his material from life.

I skimmed "Showdown at Hell's Canyon", but haven't had time to read "Drums of the Sunset" or "Wild Water", yet. 'Showdown' was trite, but kind of fun for the way Howard handles the action.

message 7: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments I found it to be so full of twists like the best hardboiled PI stories, the gunman turned deputy was great REH hero. Epic,Plot,character,hardboiled sensibility made it the best Howard western i have read. Its like he wrote a hardboiled PI story.

Charles (kainja) | 115 comments I liked the Corcoran character. At the time this was written there weren't many like him in the western genre.

message 9: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 63 comments To quote something I posted on Facebook recently: When I build my time machine, I'm going to give a collection of Howard's Westerns to Sergio Leone.

Charles (kainja) | 115 comments Sounds like a worthy plan!

message 11: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments Oh, that would be fun!

message 12: by Vincent (last edited Jan 08, 2014 10:05AM) (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I re-read this story today in Western Tales. Last time I read it, I guess I liked the alternate ending. This time, I found myself preferring the standard, darker ending. Different mood, I guess. Overall, I like the story. Yes, Corcoran is a bit too perfectly skilled, but it worked for this story, I thought. I liked the moral ambiguity of the character - and I thought he seemed different than most Western heroes in that regard. It was full of twists and double-crosses. That was interesting too.

As it was based on Hendry (Henry?) Brown, I thought it was interesting that it included characters named McNab and Middleton, who were real-life associates of Brown and Billy the Kid.

Charles (kainja) | 115 comments I thought it was a shame Howard never lived to see the paperback book boom. He'd have been perfect for it with stories like this for the western genre. Louis L'Amour look out.

message 14: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments Absolutely, Charles.

message 15: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Bingo. In so many ways it's a shame REH cut his life short, and that is certainly one of them.

message 16: by Mathieu (new)

Mathieu | 26 comments I know I am very late in this conversation but having just finished reading The End of the Trail, I really feel like sharing my thoughts on the four stories discussed here.

I do have the Zebra edition book and I think it is a shame to have mixed two of REH's best westerns with his two worst efforts. In this regard, Berkley's The Last Ride has a much more even selection.

Reading Bison Books' The End of the Trail, which presents Howard's westerns in the order they were written, I was very let down by two of the three firsts : Drums of the Sunset and The Judgement of the Desert (Showdown in Hell's Canyon). In both stories, the main character failed to drive my interest. The secondary character was always the one with more personality. And in both stories you get a juvenile kinda love story. It just didn't feel REH at all. They had not grit and felt as if Howard was writing by the numbers. The only great moment in these two stories was the ending shoot out of Judgement/Canyon : quick and furious. It showed where Howard was heading in other stories.

Now when I got to The Vultures of Wahpeton, I was shown what he was really capable of. This would make an incredible film. And of course I liked better the darker ending. The happy ending just makes no sense to me. I think this story is very well planned and each event is important in taking us to the conclusion. It is so well crafted! And it does have a Sergio Leone feel to it.

I read Wild Water a while back, but I remember it having a big impact on me. I immediately thought it was one of Howard's greatest tale, all genres together. There is something with dark outdoor settings and rain in Howard's tales that just hit the mark and sucks you right in the mood. Just like in Black Wind Blowing. I loved that story too.

So, it's a little long, and I would have a lot more to say about his westerns, but in regards to the Zebra The Vultures of Whapeton, I think the two earlier efforts shouldn't have been included with such great stories as Wild Water and Vultures of Wahpeton. In fact, in The End of the Trail, if one would remove these two stories, it would make it a near perfect collection. But you can't really have a complete western collection without including all of them can you?


message 17: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I think that is a solid assessment of that volume. I also always enjoy Man on the Ground, in addition to the tales you mentioned.

Michael (dolphy76) | 440 comments Vultures of Wahpeton was actually going to be made into a movie but never happened. Paradox which owned Conan Properties is now Cabinet Entertainment. I don't know what happened but the movie was dropped somewhere along the line. Amazon was going to do a Conan TV Series also and that got dropped. They are doing a Tolkien series instead.

I met Greg Rucka last year at Free Comics Day in Dallas and he told me they dropped his series "Lazarus" which was in development also. Amazon made some changes in the hierarchy and they went in a different direction.

message 19: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments That's unfortunate. I'd love to see REH's Westerns come to life on the screen. Of course, filmmakers might also completely ruin it - they've been known to do that.

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