There were 137 entries in the Space Western Limerick Contest. I didn’t envy the judges’ task of selecting the best ones. — ed, N.E. Lilly
Space Western Limerick Contest Winners
by Jane Espenson, Keith R.A. DeCandido & Gary Trainer ©2007 by their respective authors
There once was a cowboy whose horse,
Had the power to leap with great force,
Into space she would jump,
Then the cowboy would slump,
As he died in the vacuum, of course.
† Keith’s Pick: This one made me snarf my iced tea. Perfect meter, good punchline, fit the theme beautifully. Nicely done!
Jane Espenson: I love the idea of taking fanciful notions and applying real-world consequences to them. Funny!
Gary Trainer: This limerick is a dark, humorous space western tale. A parable of a manís horse that can leap with such great force that “she” leaps into space. But, this action by his horse causes “him” to die in the vacuum of space. Like a space western Greek fable, I can imagine our space cowboy doomed to experience this fate over and over.
A lunar inn called Three Tartan Stars,
Had the best range of booze near or far.
In senseless depravity,
and rather low gravity,
We would slurp down green whiskey from Mars.
Gary Trainer: This limerick deserves points for “We would slurp down green whisky from Mars”, alone. The image here is an example of the need for a good place for senseless depraved behavior, after those lonely light years out on the Milky Way trail.
Get a stiff drink at the Space Bar None,
And carry a six-shot laser gun.
Riding our rockets far
Into a setting star.
Who knew planet wranglin’ was such fun?
† Gary’s Pick: This limerick succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of both genres. Space saloons, six gun lasers, and planet wrangling. Who knew judging this contest would be “Such Fun”!!
Dear Wash, can you keep me from anger?
I beg you, do not bump or bang her
Just soar like a leaf
Or you’ll have ground beef
I’m a cow in Serenity’s hanger!
† Jane’s Pick: This is my “Judge’s Pick” because I simply can’t resist the point of view. So funny!
Black Bart was a man never sorry
For what he’d done back on Beta Centauri
Shot a man ’tween the eyes
then cast off for the skies
To a wormhole--through a dark neutron star, he.
Gary Trainer: This limerick conveys so much in 5 lines. It succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of both the “Western” and the “Space” genre.
I’ve been to the most distant of stars
And had drinks with locals in bars
I’ve met interesting creatures
With unusual features
That I removed and collected in jars
Jane Espenson: This made me smile.
As Simon glanced up at the sky,
He looked to his sis with a sigh:
“They’ve taken our land,
And we cannot stand.”
“But brother,” she said, “we can fly.”
Jane Espenson: Limericks don’t usually provoke emotion, but this one does. Absolutely gorgeous. Perfect.
A young Captain John Carter on Mars
Kept the peace on his beat ’mongst the stars
Said to Dejah, his bride
Would you care for a ride
In a suped up old extra from Cars?
There are people I’m longing to meet
Not at work, on the train or the street
But out in the black
On the screen in my flat
With Serenity under their feet
Jane Espenson: This one really captures the best sense of being a fan, and it flows beautifully. You didn’t have to twist the syntax to reach your rhymes.
The glare of our suns on the dunes
Is intense, and our passion balloons
Till we’re rampant with hate
(Seven times normal rate)
And each day we have seven high noons.
Jane Espenson: Great sci-fi concept and humor. A number of entries played with the “high noon” idea and this one did it the best.
Ride ’em cowboy, ride the space tether
Through ion storms and other space weather
I program my droids
And gather up roids
Aint no job I’d like to have better
Gary Trainer: This limerick gives me the feeling of being a lone space cowboy, out on the space planet range, programming my ”droids” to round up my “riods”. This is the essential cowboy archetype transported into space.
Two cowboys are stood on the moon
Trigger fingers awaiting high noon
The sun inches higher
Draw weapons and fire
And blasted themselves to Neptune
Gary Trainer: Another entry that takes a “Zane Gray” and Louis L’Amour” like tale, and tells it by an intergalactic space campfire.
When cows graze on Olympus Mons,
Their cowbells give very faint bongs.
But the rustlers must stay
A long way away
From the methane-rich low-pressure pongs!
Lament of the Alien Dance Hall Girl
A barmaid from Nerus Omega
once mourned in her sea-swamped bodega,
“If we fishfolk had feet
my life might be complete —
I’d cancan from Rigel to Vega”
Jane Espenson: Can’t resist the rhymes, and the idea is very funny.
My horse just ran out of rocket fuel
I checked my spacesuit and left that mule
Sucked on my tube of gin
Feeling everything spin
I cursed the stars for being so cruel
Gary Trainer: What would a “space western” be, without the image of a down on his luck space cowboy?
There once were some heroes in space
Whose exploits did make your heart race
a Shepherd sans flock
a River that rocked
But the tush on that Captain was ace!
This Space Western tale, I should mention
Takes place in another dimension.
Besides Space and Time
The other is Rhyme.
It just needs a saloon and some tension.
Jane Espenson: Very Twilight Zone.
It was noon at the OK Corral
At the far-away planet called Qwal.
I rode in of course
On my six-legged horse
As the moons rose on this pastorale.
A Colt 45 in his pocket,
The cowboy could fly on his rocket,
Till the unhappy day,
It was stolen away,
Because he’d forgotten to lock it.
What brings ungrammatical planet
To us landing this, dear my Janet?
Tractor beam us got, Brad,
But it be can so bad?
Escaped least us at castle, Dammit!
The Importance of Tradition
The lone marshal of Zinnemann’s Moon,
when forewarned of a vengeance-mad goon,
showed no trepidation—
his world’s slow rotation
meant that he’d be long dead by High Noon.
The eyestalk poked out of the Nexus,
Observing a back road of Texas,
Then a cowboy rode by,
Saw the alien eye,
Until it was squooshed by a Lexus.
Lunar farming takes real gumption
When colonists die of consumption.
When soil’s not arable,
Shove your damn parables
Unless psalms help moon tractors function.
Jane Espenson: The rhymes! Love the rhymes!
Jane Espenson is a former writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and has written episodes for shows including: Angel, Firefly, Gilmore Girls, Ellen, The O.C., Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dinosaurs, Andy Barker PI and others. She is currently under a development deal with NBC/Universal television while working as Co-Executive Producer on Battlestar Galactica.
Keith R.A. DeCandido has written several billion novels, short stories, eBooks, essays, and comic books in a huge variety of media universes, as well as editing anthologies, playing percussion, and generally making trouble.
Gary Trainer is currently a songwriter, producer, and bass player for The Atomic Swindlers. Trainer began as a main songwriter and founding member of New Math and Jet Black Berries. In 1987 Gary Trainer attended the summer creative writing program at Naropa University’s, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. There he studied with Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs, whose beat writing styles continue to influence his writing and art to this day.