I’ve recently started watching Westworld. Yes, I know I’m a little late to the party — luckily Rachel’s the one writing episode recaps here, not me. Westworld combines two types of stories that I absolutely adore – 1) it’s a western that isn’t your standard John Wayne affair and 2) it’s about that thin line between artificial intelligence and sentience. Sure, there are all sorts of other types of stories happening in the show, but those are the two that really appeal to me. So far, almost all the “If you like Westworld…” reading lists that I’ve seen focus primarily on the robot A.I./sentience aspect of the show and include sci-fi classics like I Robot, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Rossum’s Universal Robots. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the recommended reading lists from Bustle, Paste and Barnes & Nobel. If you (like me) also really love that the show is a non-standard western, here are five genre-bending books and comic books you ought to check out while you’re waiting for season two:
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos
A spaghetti-western inspired fantasy about the daughter of Death (yes, that Death) featuring a rabbit-skeleton narrator. Absolutely outstanding art by Emma Ríos. Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta
East of West is one of those books that I have a hard time describing/recommending because I’m honestly not quite sure what’s happening or where it’s going. I can tell you this: it’s definitely a western, and it’s definitely weird. I’m waiting for the whole series to wrap up so I can read it all in one go (hopefully it’ll make more sense that way).
Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi
Daisy’s done with being bandit, really. It’s just that going straight is so… boring. After a poker game goes awry, she can’t resist a job opportunity testing the new robotic security system on Mr. Winter’s train. What could possibly go wrong?
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
There’s a reason The Gunslinger appears on almost every “weird west” reading list — it’s outstanding example of the genre. If horror isn’t your thing, don’t let King’s reputation scare you away, the Dark Tower series is a rollicking fantasy-western at its heart.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
This YA novel blends a bunch of genres — it’s a dystopian road-trip quest story, but its sense of place is pervasive — and that place is the west. Personally, I didn’t care for the future-speak slang used throughout, but based on friends’ reactions to this book I’m in the minority. Recommended for Mad Max fans.
While we’re on the topic of Westworld — take a look at Chris Cunningham’s 1999 music video for Björk’s All is Full of Love and tell me it’s not CLEARLY the primary visual inspiration behind the show’s opening credits (this is an ongoing debate between me and my boyfriend):
Until next time, find the stories that make you stronger. #WorkOutNerdOut