The Doctor and the Kid – Mike Resnick

About the book
Doc Holliday needs to replenish his bankrollquickly and uses his skill as a shootist to turn bounty hunter. The biggestreward is for the death of Billy the Kid. Doc enlists the aid of both magic(Geronimo) and science (Thomas Edison).
323pages (paperback)
Publishedby: Pyr
Thanks to Pyr for sending me a copy of this book to review.
RecentlyI’ve become rather interested in fantasy renditions of the Wild West. I usuallydon’t enjoy books that center on cowboys, gunfights and people who ridestagecoaches across Arizona. In fact, I’m so uninterested in that kind of thingthat I know virtually nothing about the Wild West. Perhaps that’s why I’mfinding books with these themes so interesting and enjoyable right now. I’mlearning that something I had no interest in before is actually quite fun, whichis something The Doctor and the Kidis packed with.
BeforeI continue with my review, I should make it clear that this book is the secondin a series, and I’ve never read the first, TheBuntline Special. This is important for numerous reasons. First, I couldfollow the events and characters just fine without the first book as abackground which shows that The Doctorand the Kid works well as a stand-alone. Secondly, it’s a given that Iwould have had more attachment to the characters and the events happening if Ihad read The Buntline Special first. The only placewhere my lack of background was evident was with descriptions of the Buntlineitself. I could never quite picture what exactly it was and I’m sure I wouldn’thave had that problem if I’d read this book in the order it’s meant to be read.  
The Doctor and the Kid is filled withcharacters that even those unfamiliar with the infamous Gunfight at the OKCorral will recognize at a glance, characters such as Doc Holiday, Billy theKid, Wyatt Earp and even Thomas Edison. Doc Holiday is dying from consumptionand decides to settle in the mountains of Colorado to die. He gambles away themoney he had set aside to pay for his sanatorium stay and decides that a goodway to earn it back would be as a bounty hunter. The man who has the biggestbounty on his head is Billy the Kid, and with this setup, Doc Holiday goes toNew Mexico, and eventually back to the town of Tombstone.
Letme be crystal clear on one point. This book isn’t deep or profound and I don’tthink it’s meant to be. It’s a fun filled romp through the Wild West, completewith familiar characters, fast paced action and even magical Indians who workat keeping America from spreading west. TheDoctor and the Kid is one of those books that will appeal to readers whowant something a bit more popcorn than anything else. That’s not to say thisbook is bad. I read the whole thing in a day, but it was a day when I needed toease up and detach from the world, so this book hit the spot. If I had tried toread this on a day where I was more in the mood for Steven Erikson, I probablywouldn’t have enjoyed it quite so much.
Resnickreally makes the Doctor shine. He’s a character who has some very uniquefacets. He’s a killer, a gambler and a chronic drunk, but he also strictlyadheres to a code of honor.  His uniqueviewpoint really adds to the fast paced action of this book. Doc is rathercomplex, and added to this complexity is his point-blank discussion(s) of hisown death, which tends to make others uncomfortable. Furthermore, Billy theKid, a man who is a rugged outlaw, is also humanized quite a bit. The Kid is ayoung man who is quite likable until his temper flares. Thus, Resnick givesinteresting insight to two larger-than-life historical figures.
As Imentioned before, The Doctor and the Kidis filled with nonstop action and plenty of steampunk flare for fans of thatsort of thing. While occasionally the action (especially toward the end) didget a little overly predictable and over-the-top, the rest of the book makes upfor it. This book doesn’t focus on the infamous gunfight, but what happensafter. This is, perhaps, what allows Resnick to use a bit more imagination.Nearly everyone knows about the gunfight, but how many people really know whathappened in the lives of the individuals after? Resnick’s spin is a fun,steampunk spinoff of history.
Asmall aside, it’s worth the reader’s time to read the historical detailsResnick includes in the back of the book.
The Doctor and the Kid was a book Ipicked up not expecting to enjoy and I ended up finishing within one day. It’sa steampunk adventure through the fabled Wild West. Resnick did a wonderful jobhumanizing his famous characters. While some of the action can get a bitover-the-top and the ending is a bit too neat and predictable for my taste, therest of the book makes up for it. While I plan on reading the first book in theseries to give me more of a well-rounded approach to The Doctor and the Kid, it also stands alone on it’s own merit.

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