As I read A PLANET FOR TEXANS, it was hard to take it serious. I think that was the whole idea. I can’t believe the authors had anything but playfulness in mind when they wrote this book. It takes that old notion of science fiction as “western in space” to the nth degree.
All I know is I had a damn fine time reading it. Not long, it was the shorter of an old Ace Double from 1958(backed by Andre Norton’s STAR BORN).
In this future world, after the hyperdrive was invented, every little clique and religion left for worlds where they could live like they wanted.
Almost all of Texas left to establish on what they came to call New Texas. They even took along the Alamo, lovingly disassembled and re-erected on the planet, then building a city around it. The continents were named for famous people(James Bowie continent, Sam Houston continent, etc.). All cities were re- created(New Austin, New San Antonio, etc.). Everything was super. Superbourbon, since corn wasn’t on New Texas, was made from a superyam. Supercows, the meat, became the main export. Not really cows, but a native mammal described as a Hippopotamus masquerading as a dachshund about the size of a diesel locomotive and weighing in at fifteen tons. Millions of them roamed the plains and the various ranches, all presided over by a Colonel, rounded them up with tanks and light aircraft.
That was the only nod to modern technology. New Texas was frozen in the nineteenth century. Everybody wore Levis(though they didn’t understand the name), high heeled boots, brightly colored shirts, and vests, along with ten gallon hats. And one never went out without a gun rig on their hip, usually a two gun job. Colt Arms had a franchise factory on the planet.
Stephen Silk was appointed the new Ambassador to New Texas. representing the Solar League. New Texas was completely independent and wanted no part of the League. They’d gone back to the original flag of independence. The League wanted them in as they were a key planet along the border between Solar League and the z’Srauff star cluster, a humanoid alien race descended from canines instead of apes. They wanted New Texas also.
Silk wasn’t happy at his new appointment. Ambassadors to New Texas didn’t have a great history. The first one had eventually gone native, so to speak, resigning eventually and marrying a New Texan, establishing his own ranch. The next ambassador had eventually gone crazy, the third committed suicide after only six months. The fourth had been murdered six months before and Silk got the job as soon as that was learned.
He was given a couple of books, sealed, and a trunk and told not to open them until hyperdrive had been engaged. One book told him the history of the previous ambassadors, the second gave him his orders, and the trunk held his authentic New Texas costume and a two gun rig, he being told in no uncertain terms to wear it at all times.
Now about character names. Silk was accompanied by a former New Texan as a bodyguard. Name: Hoddy Ringo. The first ambassador who’d gone native: Andrew Jackson Hickok. He has a butler named David Crockett Longfellow. The three brothers that had murdered the last ambassador were named Bonney.
Silk arrives to learn the trial of the three Bonney brothers had been holding until he got there. Silk already had assumptions about what was going on. He thought that Ringo might have orders to kill him. Two Solar League ambassadors murdered might give an excuse to put troops on the ground. The League really wanted the planet in their alliance. Silk also thought the s’Zrauff were planning to invade and took appropriate measures to have a Solar League fleet in striking distance.
One thing he couldn’t do was allow the three brothers to be tried for murder. See, on New Texas, death of politicians getting to big for their britches was justifiable. If they were tried and exonerated, open season on any planetary ambassador would be ripe. So he had to upset things and take care of juatice himself.
As I said earlier, a lot of fun reading here. I even got a laugh now and again. The novel may have indeed been a response to critics of SF. Who knows.
For those interested, it’s available on Project Gutenberg under the title LONE STAR PLANET.
For other fine forgotten books, go to PATTINASE.