The place of the cowboy in fiction is wrapped up in violence and elegiac beauty. Their stories are underpinned by misery and threat. But in among the guns, knives and blood, there was love and hope and glory. The 20 tales between these covers offer a bizarre take on the myths of the Old West. You are as likely to meet a villain from the 21st century as a varmint from the 19th. There are monsters, real and imagined. There are ghosts and gangsters, masked men and marauders. There are showdowns and final sunsets. Above all there is the kind of awe that we all yearn for in our stories. Gutshot is a Smith & Wesson gripped by a skeletal fist, chambers loaded with alien ice, muzzle pointed at your heart . . .