“A Game of Hold’em” is an adventure story that reminds me of the classic Horse Operas of the 1940s and 50s, an era when it was common for writers of Cowboy Westerns to reconfigure their stories to appeal to a growing number of science fiction readers. Many of these “new” Space Operas were forgettable and poorly written—not so with this story. In “A Game of Hold’em,” author Wendy Sparrow introduces us to Moses Taylor—a Texan, born and raised—who plays to win no matter the stakes. Great SF is not just about gizmos, spaceships, and bug-eyed monsters. It’s about us, our passions and anger, revenge and redemption, adversities and triumphs. Human elements are the Velcro that make stories stick in our brains. They make them enjoyable, approachable, and memorable. The characters invoke ancient heroes by their names alone, and Sparrow seems to suggest that even in a futuristic era of intergalactic travel, some modern classics will prevail as well, like a good game of poker and the larger-than-life Texan hero.
At home in the Pacific Northwest, Wendy Sparrow writes for both adult and young adult audiences. She has two wonderfully quirky kids, a supportive husband, and a perpetually messy house because writing is more fun than cleaning. She believes in the Oxford comma and that every story deserves a happily-ever-after. Most days she can be found on Twitter @WendySparrow where she’ll talk to anyone who talks back and occasionally just to herself.
by Wendy Sparrow
Moses raised his eyebrows. Of all places to worry about your ride being stolen… a law-holder’s homestead seemed safe. Ajax’s nervous laugh sent an itch down his spine.
Something wasn’t right. He’d felt it from the second he’d pulled up. A score of eyes watched him, weighed and measured him. It was damn unnerving. Sure you’d get scrutinized before a poker game, but their boots were still planted on the gray-dirt driveway. The dust was still settling from their arrival—hanging in the fluctuating gravity, shimmering silver.
. . . Read the full story in Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures