Review: The Mighty Peculiar Incident at Muddy Creek

Muddy Creek
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Two nuclear missiles
(2 out of 4 rating)

This story throws a science fiction twist into a western setting. The story is written well, and the western setting will seem familiar to anyone who has watched western movies, but I didn’t feel that the science fiction element was taken far enough.

The author has a book of stories set in the same small western town: Tales of the Weird Wild West. From the book’s description and user comments at Amazon, it’s not quite clear whether all of the stories have a science fiction component, or whether some of them might fit into horror or other genres.

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In the story, the sheriff chases down a runaway train. It turns out that two time-traveling criminals from the future are attempting to rob it. The sheriff manages to kill one criminal and arrest the other. The end.

For me, this was a little too cut-and-dried for a time travel story; for things to get interesting, the time travelers need to run into their ancestors, or a second group of time travelers with conflicting goals needs to appear, or some other complication needs to happen.

I also didn’t buy into some of the sheriff’s discussion about the situation; he immediately picked up on the concept of time travel, and started speculating about how actions the criminals took would impact their own futures. As science fiction readers, we’d start thinking about such things seconds after encountering a time traveler, but would a late nineteenth century small-town sheriff have the same thought processes?

So, while I really like the idea of combining science fiction with other genres, this story just wasn’t complex enough to be a good time travel tale.


  1. I’m always on the lookout for science fiction westerns. Not steampunk westerns, dark fantasy westerns, but science fiction westerns, so I may still check this out one out since I haven’t heard of it before and the problems you listed with it.

  2. I’d think putting a character from a time before time-travel stories were so very overdone would be a good way to either thoroughly re-examine the common motifs or assumptions of time travel, or else put forward something wildly different that hasn’t been overdone in the genre. Seems like a waste to not use the character that way, really.

  3. […] April, I reviewed The Mighty Peculiar Incident at Muddy Creek, which is not Christmas-themed, but the author has another short story which […]

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