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Zeppelins West [Hardcover]

Joe R. Lansdale
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

June 2001
A tribute to such works as Richard Brautigan's Hawkline Monster, and Philip Jose Farmer's wackier novels, like The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, Zeppelin's West is a wild parody of Westerns, Alternate Universe novels, classic science fiction and horror, comic books, pulps, and dime novels.

A Lansdalean holiday into weirdness and camp, this is a special confection from one of today's most original, multi-award winning writers.

The Wild West Show travels by Zeppelin to perform before a Shogun, soon to be emperor of Japan, only to discover the Frankenstein monster is being whittled down slowly and ground into aphrodisiacs by the would-be ruler. Buffalo Bill, who, due to a recent accident, exists only as a battery powered head in a jar of liquid manufactured from the best that modern science and pig urine has to offer, along with Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, and a cast of historical as well as literary characters, rescue the monster, only to be shot down over the Pacific, where they are saved from sharks by Captain Nemo and his intellectual seal, Ned.

And then things get weird.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Irrepressible, irreverent and unpredictable, this hilarious fantasy with nostalgic touches of yesterday's SF shows off the narrative skills of an inventive author altogether comfortable in his metier. Legends of the Old West, plus characters both real and fictional, enliven the shenanigans, commencing with Buffalo Bill Cody, a head in a jar atop a mechanical body (after his ax-wielding wife caught him in bed with singer Lily Langtry), escorting his Wild West Show by zeppelin to Japan. Wild Bill Hickok romances Annie Oakley and discusses his old friend George Custer with his new friend Sitting Bull, who packs much comic punch in few words ("White eye motherfucker in wrong place at wrong time"). A ribald tall tale only gets wilder and wackier. In Japan, Cody spirits away Victor Frankenstein's monster, here fresh from the Arctic and unwillingly serving, from his foot up, as an aphrodisiac for a local shogun. Cody wants to go to "the island of Dr. Momo," in order to get that scientist to make him a similar body. Escape proves more difficult than arrival, however, when Japanese biplanes shoot down the zeppelin over the ocean. Happily, "Captain Bemo" in his submersible, the Naughty Lass, comes to the rescue, and the gang proceeds to Momo for more amusing adventures. With a striking jacket design and interior line drawings by Mark A. Nelson, this novel is one big joyride from start to finish. (June 18)for best novel.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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4.0 out of 5 stars Cody Ho-Tep this ain't! June 21 2004
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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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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
3.0 out of 5 stars 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars League of Extraordinarly Twisted Gentlemen Jan. 6 2008
By SillyMoose - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I don't know who did it first, but Zeppelins West is Joe R. Lansdale's take on Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentleman type of thing. Lansdale collects the best of monsters and Wild West heroes --and one Western heroine -- and, uh, a thinly-veiled group from The Wizard of Oz and throws them into an evil mastermind's wrong-minded, Darwinian plot to evolve the (or maybe all) species into his own personal slaves. And we're talking some of them being sex slaves here, too, folks. Hey, this is Lansdale. And it's absolutely that bizarre and weirded-out. Buffalo Bill Cody is nothing but a head in a jar now, Wild Bill Hickock is himself (or, at least, himself trying to get his so-called "johnson" into Annie Oakley at every possible moment) as Annie Oakley is herself (trying to pretend that she's not giving Hickock every darn chance use his "johnson" in her "sally" whenever they have a spare minute), and Sitting Bull is an Indian with a serious attitude. The Oz characters are all turned on their heads. The Lion and the Scarecrow both turn out to be moral strawmen, waiting to rape Dot and steal from The Yellow Brick Road. The Tin Man proves that he does, indeed, have a heart: for Frakenstein's Monster (now known as Bert)! Yep, you guessed it; it's Monster Mash, mano-a-mano, Lansdalian love style! Wow. Dracula finally gets killed by a bunch of half-mutated idiots, and Captain Nemo also despairingly exits the world as we know it so that he doesn't live forever at the behest of Lansdale's version of Dr. Moreau. There's also Ned the Seal, but he's such a lovable creature, you need to discover him on your own. There's craziness, good research (Lansdale did his homework on Ned Buntline), and general good crafting and excellent tall-tale prose. Once I finally read this and had so much fun with it, I wished I had never waited so long to buy it. Most editions are signed, and the cover is a very nicely-done painting by Mark A. Nelson. If you like your literary fun a little twisted, treat yourself to this.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cody Ho-Tep this ain't! June 21 2004
By Robert Beveridge - Published on Amazon.com
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. Lansdale is too busy delighting in the complete and utter demystification (and remystification) of various legendary and mythological personages of our acquaintance, and gleefully drawing us along for the ride. The result is less disjointed than one might expect; this is probably because there are no chapter breaks or the like. The whole thing is told in one sweeping motion (rather like Doris' Lessing's Canopus in Argos books, but this isn't nearly as deep or meaningful).
Fantastic beach reading. Highly recommended. ****
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