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Zeppelins West Hardcover – Jun 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; Signed edition (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193108100X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931081009
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,756,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Joe R. Lansdale, Zeppelins West (Subterranean Press, 2001)
The word very quickly became aware of, and enamored with, Joe R. Lansdale's particular subgenre of "take famous personages and put them into very strange situations" almost overnight thanks to Don Coscarelli's film version of Lansdale's story "Bubba Ho-Tep" a couple of years ago. Well, folks, let me tell you, "Bubba Ho-Tep" was only the tip of the iceberg. Zeppelins West plumbs the depths, and what marvelous depths they be.
Okay, imagine the following. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is going to Japan (via zeppelin, naturally) to perform. Among the cast are Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, and Bill biographer Ned Buntline. All well and good, except that Bill is a head in a jar of pig urine. His body is being kept alive by scientists, and it is Bill's greatest dream to one day be reunited with his body. During their adventures, thanks to a series of odd missteps, they meet up with Captain Nemo, Frankenstein's Monster, the Tin Man (from the Wizard of Oz), and Dracula, and it all takes place on the Island of Dr. Moreau. Weird enough for you yet? If not, or even if it is, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. (The book's most interesting feature: the notable lack of the standard "all persons are fictional" disclaimer. I'm waiting for the lawsuits.)
The book, like most of Lansdale's recent work, slips back and forth between the hysterically funny and the oddly touching, but unlike most of his recent work, there's no real mystery to be found here, aside from the surface question of how everyone's going to get off the island when Moreau (known here as Dr. Momo) doesn't want them to leave. The mystery's not the thing, though.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Something for everyone: blood, guts, action, adventure, homespun philosophy, and humor May 11 2007
By Henry W. Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ever since his decapitation at the hands of his jealous wife, what remains of Buffalo Bill Cody has resided in a mason jar, preserved in a mixture of pig urine, 100 proof whiskey, and an amber chemical called Number 415. Although deprived of his fleshly body, Cody can still think and speak, and can even move about by using the "Steam Man," a mechanical body designed to house his noggin. Thus, despite his handicap, Cody is still fit enough to lead the Wild West Show as it tours the world.

As Zeppelins West begins, Cody, accompanied by Wild Bill Hickock, Annie Oakley, and the stoic but surprisingly funny Sitting Bull, is heading to Japan via zeppelin on a diplomatic mission to the court of Master Takeda, Emperor of Japan. An ally of America (Japanese Samurai battled alongside Custer at Little Big Horn), Japan occupies half of what modern readers know as the United States. Besides entertainment, Cody has another objective--free Victor Frankenstein's creature from Japanese custody before he can be consumed piecemeal by the Emperor, who believes the monster's flesh is actually an aphrodisiac.

As you might have guessed, Zeppelin's West is an alternate history, albeit one of the strangest in recent memory. Not content merely explore the subtleties of an alternate history where some key event has been altered, as would Howard Waldrop, or even to weave numerous literary and cultural references into his tale a la Kim Newman, Lansdale opts to do both, filtering them through his own fractured sensibilities. Thus, in addition to the Creature and the members of the Wild West show, readers are treated to appearances by Captain Bemo, Dr. Momo, Vlad Tepes, and Tin, who hails from an alternate reality where a certain wonderful wizard used to hold sway. Never one to let bad taste interfere with a story (that's meant in a good way), they're also treated to the Tepes' strange death at the hands (paws?) of Momo's beast men, and an affair between the Creature and Tin.

Similar to Pat Murphy's recent Max Merriwell/Mary Maxwell trilogy, Zeppelins West is a loving tribute to the type of literature Lansdale cut his own literary teeth on, including the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and John Wyndham, borrowing many of its characters, locales and situations directly from their works. In spirit, however, the parody owes much to the works of Philip Jose Farmer. Although Lansdale himself nods towards The Case of the Peerless Peer, the book seems to be more in the vein of such Farmer classics as A Feast Unknown, Lord of the Trees, and The Mad Goblin, which took great liberties with classic pulp characters. In the final analysis, Zeppelins West has something for everyone--plenty of blood and guts, outrageous action and adventure, homespun philosophy, humor (black and otherwise), and plenty of sex. In other words, everything we've come to expect from Joe Lansdale over the past two decades or so.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Bizarre, wacky, and a bit disappointing. July 9 2001
By Michael Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There are many Joe Lansdale's.
There is the award-winning mystery author Lansdale. There is the award-winning horror author Lansdale. There is the western author Lansdale (award-winning?). And there is the simply wacky author Lansdale. 'Zeppelins West' is written by the latter Lansdale.
'Zeppelins West' is difficult to categorize. So much happens throughout the course of the novel. At its core it's an adventure story. But it also contains parts of each different incarnation of Lansdale. There are horrific elements, such as when Dr. Momo's half-human half-animal creations decide to feast on each other. There are humorous moments such as when Frankenstein's monster (who has chosen the name 'Bert') falls in love with the Tin Man of Oz fame.
No matter how you classify this book, it's a fascinating read. Lansdale has thrown together dozens of historical and fictional personages, from Annie Oakley & Wild Bill Hickok, to thinly guised versions of Captain Nemo & Dr. Moreau. My favorite character is Ned the Seal, Captain Bemo's intelligent companion with a passion for Ned Buntline's pulp novels.
Yet, at the end of the novel I felt unfulfilled. The plot was solid. The characters were fascinating. Mark Nelson's illustrations were great. For whatever reason this novel didn't 'do it' for me.
There's only one Lansdale. He's the wackiest, most bizarre writer in America. Each new Lansdale novel is a treat. Don't miss this one. Even though it doesn't make my Best-of-Lansdale list, it very well could top yours.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
AN OUTRAGEOUS FARCE THAT'S FILLED WITH DARK HUMOR!!! Jan. 14 2002
By Wayne C. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Joe R. Lansdale�s newest novel, ZEPPELINS WEST, published in a signed, limited edition by Subterranean Press, gives the reader a glimpse into the outrageous and humorous side of this fantastic author�s personality. Be warned that this is a novel that will probably appeal to only Lansdale�s diehard fans; but, then again, maybe not. Written in the classic tradition of H.G. Wells, Julies Verne, and Frank Baum (add a lot of sex, dark humor and violence), Mr. Lansdale has created an adventure story that combines actual historical characters with fictional characters from the novels of the above writers. You might say ZEPPELINS WEST takes place in a parallel universe, or that it could even be an alternate history of things that might have happened in our own world. However you choose to view it, the one aspect that stands out for me is that the story had me laughing from beginning to end. It starts out with Buffalo Bill Cody�s Wild West Show heading to Japan on board a flying zeppelin. Accompanied by Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, Wild Bill Hickok, Ned Buntline, and the show�s other employees, Buffalo Bill is definitely not his usual self. It seems as though his wife caught him cheating on her and shot a rather big hole in him. To save the famous entertainer�s life, Dr. Samuel Morse and Professor Maxxon, who happened to be visiting with the Codys at the time, removed Bill�s head and stuck it in a mason jar filled with pig urine and whisky. A motorized crank was then attached to the jar so that electrical charges could be sent to Bill�s head in order to keep his mind activated. Now, the true purpose behind the Wild West Show�s visit to the Land of the Rising Sun isn�t to entertain the Japanese, but rather to steal the body of the Frankenstein monster that is being held prisoner by Sokaku Takeda, Shogun of Japan. Morse and Maxxon think that if they can get hold of the monster�s body, it�ll help them to figure out how to successfully re-attach Buffalo Bill�s head to the rest of his torso. Takeda, however, is using parts of the monster�s body as an aphrodisiac so that he can satisfy his many concubines. He therefore has no intention of letting anyone take the monster away from him. One event leads to another and before you know it, Buffalo Bill and his crew have rescued the monster and are trying to escape in the slow zeppelin. Japanese biplanes eventually shoot the dirigible down over the Pacific, and that�s when the real adventure begins. Before the story is over with, the whole gang will encounter a submarine that�s operated by Captain Bemo and Ned, the reading seal, which then leads to the island of Doctor Momo and the strange creatures that inhabit it. What really hooked me with ZEPPELINS WEST was the author�s sense of off-the-wall humor. He had the Frankenstein monster develop a gay relationship with the Tin Man, who was still experiencing feelings of guilt over what the Cowardly Lion and Straw Man did to young, innocent Dot and her dog, BoBo, in the Emerald City. Annie Oakley and Hickok can�t keep their hands off of each other. They�re constantly doing the two-bear mambo every time they�re left alone for longer than two minutes. Ned the Seal is the smartest of the bunch, but has an obsession with dime-store novels and his hero, Buffalo Bill. All of this, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. There are guest appearances by Vlad Tepes (Dracula), William Rickenbacher, Manfred Von Richthoften, Charles Darwin, and Victor Frankenstein. ZEPPELINS WEST certainly isn�t meant to be a serious piece of literature. It�s an audacious experiment of fiction that allows the author to let loose with his zany imagination and to see where it takes him. This is certainly one of the funniest novels I�ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and it clearly displays the versatile range of Joe R. Lansdale�s talent as a writer. Still, this isn�t for everyone. Illustrated by Mark A. Nelson, ZEPPELINS WEST is a novel meant for those who have a wicked sense of humor and who love to laugh out loud, not caring who hears them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Like A Pulp Adventure on Mescaline Aug. 21 2011
By Chris Ward - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Joe R. Lansdale is never afraid to go where others won't, and here he stomps all over a dozen genre boundaries to create the damnedest mash-up ever. Kim Newman and Alan Moore and Philip Jose Farmer and Mark Hodder have been here before, but Lansdale's take on a battle royale between Victorian literature's greatest heroes and villains (mostly villains) is an amusingly absurd sockdolager.

Will you enjoy this? Well, the more you know about the writings of HG Wells and Bram Stoker and L. Frank Baum and Mary Shelley and Jules Verne, the more jokes and references you'll get and the more it will appeal. It is intentionally and ridiculously pulpy, and it revels in that ridiculousness. I loved it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
You can't go wrong with Lansdale July 13 2011
By Tusitala - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
And this is Lansdale at his most outrageous. Imagine an America that was discovered from the west by the Japanese. Throw in a bunch of historical figures like Wild Bill, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull. Add a healthy helping of slightly disguised fictional characters like Frankenstein's creature, Captain Nemo, Dracula, Dr. Moreau and a cast of others. This is a bizarro gumbo that can't fail. Not impressed? At one point, Sitting Bull and Dr. Moreau get in a d**k measuring contest. And the Creature has a very special relationship with the Tin Man (and things didn't turn out so well for Dorothy in Oz in Lansdale's version of things).

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