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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Western AU, Cowboy AU
Related tropes/genresHistorical AU
Related articles on Fanlore.

The Western is a genre of fiction set in the later half of the 19th century in the Western part of North America, especially the United States, but also Canada and Mexico. They typically involve cowboys. Sometimes also included in the genre are stories about Western-type characters and plots in other settings, e.g. "Space Westerns" (in science fiction settings) and Contemporary Westerns (set in the western part of contemporary North America).

Western Fandoms

See List of American Wild West Fandoms.

Fanzines dedicated to Westerns

Western AUs

The Western Chronicles story illustration by Angelique
Xena AU, The Western Chronicles fanfic cover by Calli

In fandoms that are not Westerns the genre is still represented through the form of the Western AU: either a fusion with a Western fandom; or an alternate universe with the characters transplanted into the "Old West"; or sometimes—especially in science fiction fandoms—a Space Western equivalent, which may involve a western-type plot without such specific trappings as horses and cattle ranches (like Cowboys & Aliens or John Carter stories). Examples for Western AUs:



Indian!Spock. September image of the First Time Calendar by Chris Soto

Sometimes Western AUs face criticism for transferring fictional people into real historical settings without considering possible racist pitfalls of that transference (and often the Western genre in general) carefully enough, for example Sheafrotherdon criticized the SGA Santa story Bound to Heart, Bound to Home[2](although this is set a bit before the classical Western time period and further east, the principle applies to many Western AUs):

"In Bound to Heart, the actual Native people of the region are replaced by Athosians, people who (within SGA canon) live in another galaxy. I raised the issue of the erasure of Sac and Fox and Ho Chunk people from the story with the author."[3]

There are also fanfic cases in which the source is not a western, but the characters can be put in Western or Western-type settings without becoming AU. That is often the case for fandoms in which the characters travel to new planets, such as Star Trek or Stargate, or fandoms with long-lived/immortal characters, such as Forever Knight. This is not technically a Western AU, as it does not contradict canon, but is an overlapping genre. Examples for this include:


External Links


  1. ^ Ysone. Night Eagle. (accessed 15 Feb 2010)
  2. ^ Bound to Heart, Bound to Home, posted 15 Dec 2009 (accessed 15 Feb 2010)
  3. ^ Sheafrotherdon. Stories We Tell, posted 17 Dec 2009 (accessed 15 Feb 2010)
  4. ^ Sarah T. The New Frontier, posted 4 Jul 2006. (accessed 15 Feb 2010)
  5. ^ Dark Lady of Canyon Rock by Deb Menikoff(accessed 22 Sept 2010)