RoosterVision: UNICORN WASTELAND by Emma Alice Johnson (Everybody Press, 2021)

An excellent subversion of classic Western tropes, adorned in fantasy, with just a hint of melancholia tempered with genre fiction's most elusive ingredient: hope.

…an ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media that we at Rooster Republic Press find ourselves enjoying. Once a week, on Thursdays, we will showcase new and old works and, hopefully, help spread the word on great stuff you might otherwise miss out on.

RoosterVision was previously the name of our non-fiction imprint, and since those titles and that line of books are no longer, we have decided to resurrect RoosterVision for the purpose of this showcase. Enjoy!

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but “RoosterVision” has been on a bit of an extended hiatus. March and April were incredibly busy, and much of the time spent on the site was for CHROMOPHOBIA promotion. However, we return to you now with a new showcase, Emma Alice Johnson’s sublime UNICORN WASTELAND. Everybody Press (out of Brooklyn, NY) published the novella in 2021. The first printing sold out, and the book has since moved into a second printing.

Right off the bat, the cover jumps out at you with a gorgeous gold-foil rendering of the title. However, as it is with all good books, the really impressive stuff is inside. UNICORN WASTELAND is a quick read, at just over 60 pages, but it is a beautiful book and it will stick with you.

Ostensibly a western, but taking place in the kind of dusty post-apocalypse favored by early-1980’s exploitation movies, UNICORN WASTELAND follows Maria and her trusty steed, a unicorn. Dragging through the dust behind them (perhaps, in homage to 1966’s Django) is a coffin. That the contents of the coffin are as much a part of Maria’s terminus as the final destination of her journey is a nice narrative trick. Often, in these types of stories, the journey ends up being quite a bit more engaging than the ending, but Emma Alice Johnson sidesteps this entirely, and admirably.

UNICORN WASTELAND is filled with menace and uncertainty. However, unlike so many of the westerns that have come before it, the ending isn’t a picture of cathartic violence. And when the coffin cracks open, what pours forth has more to do with rebirth than destruction.

A beautiful and melancholy post-apocalyptic western.

You can get a copy of UNICORN WASTELAND directly from Everybody Press HERE.

Thanks for reading!

And remember to…

Leave a Reply