Okay, so not quite the last. Had a couple more FAQ-able questions come up, so there’s going to be a few more posts. (This and two others, it looks like.)
Q1: It’s a Western. Any cowboys?
A1: Actually, I’m really glad of this question, because it lets me blather on about a piece of the setting I didn’t get a chance to cover.
All your major states raise cattle, most obviously Texas and Utah. But the biggest beef industry in the Outlaw is Dakota. But not because of cows.
North of Dakota is a massive vortex that opens up to an ice continent somewhere in the Beyond. That continent has three main types of creatures: the gigantic armored Vishloess, the savage, furred Losiv (whom people call “yetis”), and the crystalline (and cold-based) insectile Yisek.
(The vortexes also dump a hell of a lot of cold into the atmosphere. It’s iceboxing eastern Canada, and playing hell with global weather patterns.)
Vishloess are gigantic (triceratops, up to brontosaurus), furred creatures with 4-8 limbs, massive, fanged maws, huge horns, and hard, bony plates. They’re mammals (or “mammals”, being as how Beyonder magic-based biology has, at best, a loose relationship to Earther biology). Some are herbivores, some carnivores, some lone hunters, some pack hunters, some herd animals, but all are good eatin’s.
They poured out of the vortex, into Dakota. Out of desperation, the Dakotas were forced to develop their manufacturing and oil industries, so they could make the fast, armored vehicles that fight the vishloess and the helicopters (the Dakota Sue, “that MASH helicopter”) that spot them. (They also built a rail network across the Blue Line, so they can ship vehicles, men, and materiel to where the latest incursion is.)
Picture Land Rovers and dune buggies four-wheeling across the terrain (armed with .50 cal machineguns and grenade launchers), herding a beast with judiciously applied explosions and bursts of gunfire. Rolling after are up-armored pickups and Land Rovers, ersatz APC’s, armed with harpoons. The smaller vehicles harry a furred beast the size of a tank, while the larger ones maneuver in for the kill.
Shoot, Boom!, and you drag back a huge carcass to the flatbed semis, for butchering in the local city. Dakotans are not in danger of starvation — there’s lots of meat. (Oh, yeah, and pelts. Thick, huge, gorgeous pelts.)
(Ecology? The same impossibly fast plant growth that covered Europe with dense, hostile forest. Small vishloess feed on it, larger vishloess feed on them. “It’s the cycle of life, Simba.”)
Films of vishloess hunts are popular across the Outlaw. Major personalities among the Fur Hunters are stars. These shows are shot not on video, but with actual film. (Kind of like Mutual of Omaha.)
Beef (er, “beef”) from these operations is sold across the continent. (Vishloess meat tastes like spicy beef, it’s a fatty meat as fat is needed to survive the cold seasons.) It, and Dakota’s wheat fields, feed Canada.
So, no cowboys, but vishloess wranglers do much the same thing, with ill-tempered furred, horned, fanged, gap-mawed, armored beasts the size of a tank. Or bigger.