Thursday, 20 December 2018


John Whalen (writing as John M. Whalen) is the author of ‘hybrid’ novels where the western meets the future, or the lone gunman hero is as likely to encounter vampires or monsters as regular bad guys.

John tells me he likes THE BIG SHUTDOWN because ‘it was my first attempt at a Space Western… It gave me room to stretch out.’

Across the desolate Planet Tulon Jack Brand, former officer in the Tulon Security Force, is on a lone search. Seven years ago his sister, Terry, was kidnapped by the Wilkersons, a nomadic outlaw gang. Brand has sworn never to leave Tulon until he finds her. But time is running out. The energy conglomerates that own Tulon are shutting the planet down, although it’s still rich in oil. Soon the last ships will leave for Earth.

Brand travels from desert wasteland to steaming jungles, from a city at the bottom of the sea to a desert town run by alien gangsters. He battles the many perils of Tulon with his quick wits, fast reflexes, and the Electro-Pistol holstered to his hip.

Ostensibly re-running the 1960 Randolph Scott western COMANCHE STATION in space, John soon whisks us off into completely new territory.

Also included is an additional story from John's "This Raygun for Hire." series, featuring Frank Carson, a futuristic trouble shooter for hire.

Nancy Gates and Randolph Scott in ‘Comanche Station (1960)’

A lost sister – kidnapped by Comanches - features in THE SEARCHERS (1956), of course.

Brother and sister (Jeffrey Hunter and Natalie Wood) re-united in ‘The Searchers

And in the world of TV Westerns the whole premise of the 1976 series THE QUEST was about two brothers searching for their sister after she was carried off by the Cheyenne.

 Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson search for their lost sister in ‘The Quest

Once again I’d reference my contender for best TV Western episode ever: THE HIGH CHAPARRAL episode ‘Ride the Savage Land.’ Having rescued one white girl from the Apaches holding her captive, the High Chaparral crew attempt to rescue her sister (Claire Wilcox, pictured) from them also.    

The dystopian future elements of THE BIG SHUTDOWN reminded me of movies from MAD MAX (anarchy in a society depending on oil)

Mel Gibson in ‘Mad Max’ (1979)

to OUTLAND (1981.)


‘Readers are in for a rootin' tootin' fun ride… will remind readers just why pulp fiction, westerns, and ray guns belong together.’

‘Quick, thrilling, and at times quite thoughtful.’

‘Recommended for space opera/space western fans of all ages.’ and

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