I'd seen the movie promos for COWBOYS & ALIENS, and thought, "Meh... another INDEPENDENCE DAY, just set a little earlier in time..." So I didn't bother to buy a ticket.
But then a friend gave me the book. I don't know how closely Joan D. Vinge stayed or strayed from the original movie screenplay, but the book is excellent.
Vinge doles out the facts fairly, but there are more twists and turns than a pretzel--than three pretzels!
The desert town of Absolution is all but abandoned now that the gold has run out, and nobody is doing better than barely eking out a meager livelihood except the single rancher who owns the whole place.
Then SOMETHING 'exploded' a herd of cattle... or did it? The only witness is a ne'er-do-well cowhand who admittedly was drunk at the time...
The tall, dark stranger, the selfish and arrogant cattle-baron with the spoiled and pampered (drunken) son, the Good-old-boy Sheriff, the not-so-jolly bartender...they all play their parts.
I think perhaps I'll go see the movie after all.
From back cover: 1875, New Mexico Territory--- A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. It's a town that lives in fear.
But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.
Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella, he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents--townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors--all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.
Liked the premise and the fact it was set in the older West. Good vs evil played well here. The main character was a man with a past he could't remember, but he overcame the hard man he had been before.
The book is always better than the movie, as in this case. This book was so much more. I liked the book alot, a town living in fear and strangers that bring nothing but. But the stranger they reject is their only hope for salvation. There's a secret being held and twists and turns and outlaws and Indian warriors, all are in danger. Exciting and worthwhile read.