Culture & Criticism Since 2003
R.S. Belcher’s new novel, The Shotgun Arcana, is a deeply layered romp of a read – think Sam Peckinpah’s cinematic vision twisted into the darkness of the world beyond. Think cannibals with claws and a mind without boundaries. Yes, The Shotgun Arcana is just that limitless. Set in 1870 in the frontier town of Golgotha, Nevada, Belcher’s story is populated by an array of crazy characters who harbor many secrets. As a said, this is Peckinpah territory intersecting with the altars of next life. Deep in the Shotgun Arcana, angels waltz with the damned as Sheriff Jon Highfather tries to prepare for a raid by a pack of wanton killers, these cannibals come to unearth Golgotha’s forbidden past. Along the way we meet the community of Golgotha – the mad scientist and the pirate queen, the fallen angel and the deputy who embodies the wildness of old coyote. As we move through Belcher’s book, the reader is left to grapple with himself as we come to taste the blood of each character. In the end, the best science fiction is multi-dimensional, unveiling a new universe where anything is possible as it simultaneously puts us in touch with the intimate elements of the buried self that do not comport with ‘reality.’ Ultimately, that is just what Belcher’s writing does – like the work of Stephen King or William S. Burroughs, it reconnects us to the wild villages inside our heads and compels us to confront our own dark secrets. And any book that can do that is well-worth your time to read.