Monday, January 3, 2011

Cattle King for a Day by L. Ron Hubbard (unabridged multi-cast audio book)

After receiving news of his grandfather's death, Chinook Shannon heads north from Arizona to Bull Butte, Montana, to take over the Slash-S ranch. What he finds is surprising: not only in the property in debt to the tune of $26,000 but it's also been commandeered for gold mining, and a fellow named Brad Kendall doesn't want Chinook to get to the ranch. The bank is about to foreclose, and Chinook has twenty-four hours to set things right or he'll only be Cattle King for a Day.

Author L. Ron Hubbard was a master of the action Western, filling his stories of adventure with plenty of gunplay and vengeance. "Cattle King for a Day" (originally published in All Western Magazine's March 1937 issue) is enhanced by authenticity springing from Hubbard's time living in Montana, complete with details on local mining, banking, etc.

But humor is welcome here as well. One passage in particular from "Cattle King for a Day" brought a smile — where the author describes the stream of epithets and obscenities directed by Kendall toward Sheriff Taggart:

It was all unquotable. It treated Taggart's family tree from its inception, followed through several-score generations, caught up with Taggart's personal appearance, filthy habits, general demeanor, and went on to revite Taggart's posterity.

In addition, the character of Sheriff Taggart offers a sense of nostalgia for fans of the comic quartet Firesign Theater, as the actor who voices Taggart, Phil Proctor, borrows heavily from his portrayal of used-auto salesman Ralph Spoilsport, first heard on the group's classic album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All.

Also on this audio is "Come and Get It" (from the October 15, 1938, issue of Street & Smith's Western Story). Bill Norton arrives at Wolf Junction, Wyoming, as the new owner of the Bar N, met only by the station agent and a prairie dog, apparently the only residents — even "at the early hour of 11" — of this veritable ghost town.

Bill soon discovers there's actually very little waiting for him but a pair of sixguns and an unpleasant surprise: his father was murdered. But how is a tenderfooted Easterner who's never fired a gun supposed to avenge his father? With the help of a clever mind and a clever dog, and a twist ending that leaves the listener with a smile.

These two Western stories of men and their new properties, which hold surprises neither of them is prepared for, make for a good pair of listens that more than fill the two-hour running time of Cattle King for a Day. I find myself more and more on the lookout for these Galaxy Audio productions, as they are sure (with a few exceptions) to provide an engaging and exciting pulp-adventure experience.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails