Friday Fiction – Hong on the Range

Hong on the Range coverHong on the Range

Submitter: We came across this 1989 copyright doozie awhile ago while we were doing our first major weed.  It has been stored in our favorite weed collection for a few years now.  It features a cyborg cowboy in a dystopian post-apocalyptic western frontier.  His name is Hong and he has to prove himself.  This gem was written before dystopia was a thing.  I am surprised we don’t have a line to check it out. Even the animals are cyborg, such as the oxenites.  The author even has some creative cowboy tunes scattered about. Can’t put it down!

Holly: This is cataloged as juvenile fiction. I can maybe see adults going for it, but kids or teens? That would be a hard sell in my public library. It was a nominee for both the Nebula and Hugo awards, so someone clearly enjoyed it (and in the immortal words of Ranganathan, “Every book his/her reader”). It’s a weird mashup of futuristic and historical, with the wagons and the range but also the cyborgs.

I’m more intrigued by Submitter’s “favorite weed collection.” Tell us more about that, Submitter!



Hong on the Range inside flap

Hong on the range drawing

Hong on the Range  exerpt

Hong on the Range

Hong on the Range exerpt


  1. Oh, dystopia has been a thing much longer than since 1989. Heck, “cyborg cowboys” as a concept supported several 80s cartoons (BraveStarr, Galaxy Rangers, probably some others slipping my mind). And the late 80s were the heyday of cyberpunk.

  2. I was going to say the same thing the other posters have said. “1984” and much of George Orwell’s other works are considered dystopian, as are Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” and Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”

  3. Yes, this definitely came out of the genre of cyberpunk/western/Asian/dystopian culture mashups of the later 70s and early 80s. Neuromancer, Max Max, Blade Runner, Buckaroo Banzai all have relevance. I’m certain there would still be readers for it today, really.

    1. I’d be one of them–BUT I’d never think to look in the children’s section!

  4. Don’t forget Yul Brynner as a rogue robotic cowboy in 1973’s Westworld. Not dystopian, Westworld is a science fiction western-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton.

  5. The author was nominated for Hugo/Nebula awards for some of his short stories. This book wasn’t nominated.

  6. I thought we all had a “favorite weed collection.” I know I do. I always wonder what would happen if I suddenly went to that big library in the sky. What would my replacement think when she found this stack hidden in a cabinet?

  7. According to Wikipedia’s entry on Dystopian Novels, there was one written in 1595. So the genre does go back pretty far.

  8. Also, I don’t think that the protagonist is a cyborg — the jacket copy says he’s a “control-natural” with all of his original equipment — ? Actually looks like a fair read, I’d take it on if it came into my bookcase.

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