Review: The Doctor and the Kid

Posted: April 10, 2012 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: Mike Resnick, Alternate Historical Fiction

History, steam-punk, and the Wild Wild West. What’s not to love, right? I tell you, Lou Anders and Mike Resnick absolutely had an awesome brain-child of an idea when they decided to run with this one. There’s so much possibility with this mixup. So much real estate at your fingertips. And yet the first book was a bit iffy. Being fun and fast but not necessarily the awesome read I had hoped it would be.

THE DOCTOR AND THE KID (Amazon) is the second of those “Weird West” tales by Resnick and continues the story of Doc Holliday and his life in a Wild West twisted by the power of steam and electricity. The three main characters from the first story, THE BUNTLINE SPECIAL (EBR Review) — Doc, Ned Buntline, and Thomas Edison — have all moved to Leadville, Colorado where they hope to escape the after-effects of the OK Corral. Doc wants to set up shop as a dentist and drift into retirement/consumption-driven-death, and Ned and Tom follow him to have a quiet place to continue their research.

There honestly wasn’t a whole lot to this story. Doc is still an ever-drunk gambler, moving from one bar to the next in the hopes of draining a few bottles, or a few pockets, before crawling into bed soon after the sun comes up. Then he gets taken to the cleaners and either has to make some dough fast or die in a dusty back alley instead of a well-catered hospital. As he’s a gunslinger, he decides to rustle up the cash by taking out some criminals, and the one with the biggest reward on his head is Billy the Kid.

The story gets really repetitive really fast, with Doc visiting bar after bar. Problems are solved not by him, but by his dynamic duo (Ned and Tom) that otherwise don’t play any kind of role in the story. They are able to come up with a few interesting/funny solutions to the Doc’s problems, but there’s nowhere near enough to make up for the book’s general lack of excitement. Again, like BUNTLINE, this was a fast read with loads of dialogue and single-minded characterization. The minimal overall description didn’t help out either. The Wild West just wasn’t in it. It was more about being drunk all the time, and letting down your friends, and the overall lack of consequences after gambling away your future if you’re just good enough at what you do. Kind of depressing, really. It wasn’t bad, although it was definitely a step down from the first in the series.

THE DOCTOR AND THE KID continues the stories of THE BUNTLINE SPECIAL. More of what Mike Resnick does best. Not my favorite, but some are sure to enjoy.

On the back-end of having read a handful of Resnick’s books and short stories, I’m seeing some fairly distinct patterns that just aren’t jiving with my tastes: a general lack of immersion, reliance upon quirky humor to carry the story, and anti-climactic climaxes. Fans of his stuff will probably like this book, but it seems to me that the more I read of his work, the more I decide that I’m just not one of those people.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Infrequent but strong
  • Violence: Some gun-fighting
  • Sex: Robot/hybrid whores, mild references, a picture mid-book

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