Radiant Apples

Radiant Apples

Illustration By Ken Laager

Dust jacket and interior illustrations by Ken Laager.

We’re thrilled to present an original 30,000 word novella that continues the adventures of Nat Love, narrator of Joe R. Lansdale’s acclaimed novel, Paradise Sky, novella, Black Hat Jack, and novelette, “Everything Sparkles in Hell.”

Ken Laager has contributed a full-color dust jacket and six black-and-white interior illustrations.

About the Book:

Nat Love has had enough adventures for ten men. From son of a former slave, to buffalo soldier, to gun hand, to Marshal for Hanging Judge Parker. 

Now, entering old age, he’s a train porter. A job he’s happy to have, but not exactly the cream of his life. And then an unlikely train robbery and a moment of bravery gives him an opportunity to relive his past and perhaps redeem his wayward son. He’s still got the skills, but he’s also older and stiffer, and a little less certain. 

He’ll need his old pal, Choctaw, to help him track down the murderous Radiant Apple Gang, so named for the odd, glowing cheeks of the two brothers who lead it. They’re not exactly the James Gang, but then again, Nat and Choctaw aren’t exactly in their prime, even if they do have an automobile and an expense account. 

From the train tracks and cotton fields of East Texas, to the Oklahoma hills and a corrupt town, they’ll end up in a desperate struggle for survival that includes gun play, an outlaw, who though dreadfully wounded, doesn’t seem capable of dying, to a man gagging on dirty underpants. They’ll need the right hat, the right guns, and plenty of rest. The biggest question is can Nat and his companion, Chocktaw, survive bullets and lumbago, and come out on top.

Limited: 1500 signed numbered hardcover copies

From Publishers Weekly:

“[T]he Radiant Apple gang are a scruffy bunch, dangerous only for their brutality and possession of automatic weapons—which make the final showdown in Hootie Hoot, Okla., breathtakingly gory. This characteristically droll, tough-minded yarn is sure to please Lansdale’s fans.”

From Locus:

“Two of the elements that make Joe Lansdale one of the best storytellers of our time are his ability to make a story flow with the ease of a large river after heavy rains and the way in which he mixes action, violence, and humor to deliver wildly entertaining narratives. Both of those things are in full display in Radiant Apples, a novella that continues the adventures of Nat Love as part of The True Life Adventures of Deadwood Dick as told by His Ownself series… Lansdale has written horror, crime, and sci­ence fiction throughout his career, and one of the cohesive elements that gives his oeuvre a sense of unity is his constant attention to cultural context and history. For example, he regularly tackles the horror of racism, and Radiant Apples is no different, which fits perfectly with the historical time in which it takes place…”



Radiant Apples

My name is Nat Love. I’m writing some things down. I’d like to start with a bit of philosophy that has sustained me on my life’s journey.

You can fill a pot with piss quicker than you can with wishes, and with that thought in mind, you can most likely figure I’m not a wishful man.

Still, I got my hopes, if not my wishes. Lincoln may have freed the slaves, which my folks were, but Jim Crow still whips the colored folk’s ass daily.

Things for me, in some ways, are better than many others of my color, certainly for the age I am now, and having said that, I want to charge in here and say right off with a lack of modesty, but with a large sweet custard of absolute truth, that I am a spry fiftyish man with all my parts working and my brain rolling on all its wheels, though from time to time they squeak and a dab of grease might be needed. I should also point out that I have some now and again aches from past adventures, and I pee a little more often than I once did, with frequent stops and starts, like a busy passenger train. I have also been known to slap a little bacon fat on an occasional rise of the piles, but the less said about that the better. Spry as I may be, I should admit too, that all the good that I am is less than the good I once was. 

I have always had a better life than many of my color, because I took off and went West when I was just past being a boy. You could prove yourself out there, and though the color of your skin wasn’t completely forgotten, less importance was put on it when a horse needed breaking, or they needed a Buffalo Soldier to ride out and shoot at Indians.

Even when I came back to the South, I had less restrictions than some, because along with Bass Reeves, another black Marshal, I rode the Arkansas hills, and on out into the Indian nation, and sometimes beyond. That gave me a bit of a rise in stature, at least for a time, due to I was known for chasing desperadoes that needed apprehended, often for hanging. Some had to be shot because they were wild and wooly about being arrested and I didn’t want them to shoot me. Them that I laid low or led to a hanging I don’t consider on much these days. They got what they had coming. I did my duty. End of story.

I miss the old days some, and a lot of the folks that lived it. Like shootists like Wild Bill Hickok, who I seen shot in the head in Number Man’s saloon in the Dakotas. He was quite the character. And I miss the excitement of crossing the ocean with Buffalo Bill to perform in his Wild West Show, once before the Queen of England. Think about that. Son of a slave sailing on the great waters to a land far beyond. The food there wasn’t too good. Lots of boiled stuff, though their fish and taters were tolerable. Even there I could teach them a thing or two about how to make good double batter for fish, or most anything you might want battered.

I been meaning to write that story down, my time in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, because it’s full of adventure. I met people like Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley, and a peculiar fellow that gave me quite a problem, had a favoritism for knives and a hatred of whores. But that’s another story.

Bottom line, there was a whole mess of others that was fascinating. So far, I haven’t scribbled all that down in my crabby penmanship, and I suppose if I’m going to, I need to get cracking in due time. I can hear the old clock on the wall beating out the last of my minutes, because every day a fella wakes up, he’s one day closer to when he ain’t going to wake up.

That being a reality, I am making time to write down something that happened more recently, because I figure my kids, strung out as they are across the nation, might want to know of the old days, and how their old man lived then, but also how he has lived not so long ago as they went on about their lives. For me, it was somewhat like a trip back in time, this thing that happened, but with more soreness.


Ken Laager
Joe R. Lansdale
160 pages
United States
Subterranean Press
In Print