MileHiCon is Colorado’s largest science fiction and fantasy literature convention, now in its 47th year. In addition to the traditional fun and frolic, this year’s convention saw the publication of Sidekicks, a collection of short stories by convention authors. Sam Knight, of Villainous Press, is the editor and the book is the first of what will, hopefully, become an annual themed anthology, the theme to be chosen by the convention attendees.
Sidekicks is chock full of fun and quirky stories that look at the concept of sidekicks from clever and unexpected angles. Of course we have sidekicks who actually run the show for the glamorous, and often unappreciative, heroes to whom they are attached. But the circumstances surrounding their situations are surprising. In “A Matter of Measure” author Holly Roberds taps into our national anxiety over high stakes testing. Who gets in to hero school and who is relegated to the sidekick academy? This is a sensitive topic in our house just now, the college applications are out but the answers aren’t back yet. The ending made me, and my anxious daughter, laugh out loud. Jodi M. Franklin, the author of “Job Security” looks at the interdependence of villains and heroes. Her story of hair's breadth escapes and gallant rescues keeps the reader guessing at identities until the hilarious conclusion. Jess Roth’s “Sidekick for Hire” takes sibling relationships to extremes in the context of a sidekick temp agency.
But it is not all "laugh out loud" send-up and farce. There are poignant moments and thought provoking pieces as well. In Benjamin Jacobson’s “Mourning Bell” an android companion will not leave the home of his deceased client until he has carried out some very specific last wishes. This story still haunts my thoughts with the question of whether actions or feelings carry the greatest merit. “The Goblin’s Guide to Being Fabulous” by DM Daniel explores the transformative strength of creativity grounded in love. We see these transformations through the eyes of a man who has taken social acceptance and conventional beauty for granted his whole life. The power of this story comes in watching the world shift through his eyes. It is heartfelt and hopeful, without being maudlin. Plus, there are fabulous characters and a heart-pounding chase scene.
There are many, many more, but you’ll just have to get a copy and read them yourself. In addition to the pleasure of these fine tales you will know that you are supporting a much loved convention, run year after year by dedicated volunteers. A portion of the sales of each copy of Sidekicks will go towards supporting MileHiCon. The theme of next year’s anthology is “Adventures in Zoo Keeping.” I can’t wait to see what the MileHiCon authors come up with this time!
If you are interested in the themes of mirrors and mothers, bodies as machines, daughters and madness, flowers and blood, then Georgina Bruce’s debut story collection is for you!
Fiction Unbound explores the fresh voices and exciting ideas that are the novellas nominated by SWFA members for the Nebula Awards. No predictions.
Headley’s retelling of Beowulf through the eyes of Grendel’s mother and Hrothgar’s wife takes on epic heroes, American veterans with PTSD, gentrification, the monstrosity of racism, and Edward Scissorhands.
Fiction Unbound’s celebration of Nebula Award nominees continues. This week, a collection of slightly longer SF/F confections: novelettes. Come for the alternate histories, stay for the reincarnation and romance.
Fiction Unbound continues our annual tradition of admiring the unique voices and daring ideas that are the short stories nominated by SWFA member writers for the Nebula Awards. No predictions.
Dystopia can be fun, in the right hands, but time loops probably aren’t. Example: our own era. Fiction Unbound writers Gemma and Catie explore stories that consider what the future may bring based on where we are presently, in the new collection A People’s Future of the United States.
Laini Taylor put a restriction on this project: killing couldn’t be the solution to her characters’ conflicts. The result is a harrowing exploration of nightmares, both lived and dreamed.
Whitney Scharer’s historical fiction The Age of Light is a sumptuous look into photographer and artist Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray. Set in Paris in the early 1930’s, this novel does a beautiful job of giving Lee Miller a strong, clear voice during her formative years as a artist.
2015 Man Booker winner Marlon James embraces epic fantasy with a non-conforming, lightning-paced tale that up-ends every expectation.
The award-winning Sarah Pinsker finally has a collection out, and it’s excellent.
Newman’s novel is an inspired time-travel story and a troubled look at progressive hopes.
Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series continues with a story that asks, “What if life were fair?” It’s portal fantasy at its best: A door appears, a choice is made, you come back changed … if you come back at all.
If three consecutive novel Hugos have not convinced you N. K. Jemisin is a modern master, this collection will bridge the gap.
Guest Contributor Manual Aragon reviews Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. “[Iglesias] creates a world that I know, where language knows no barriers, no walls, and moves exactly where it is most comfortable.”
Biomimicry abounds in this themed collection of new and classic science fiction “at the crux of creatures and tech,” from Hex Publishers.
Peng Shepherd’s thrilling debut novel explodes post-apocalyptic fantasies of independence.
Jane Yolen’s novel-in-verse, Finding Baba Yaga, arrives just in time for the season of the witch.
In the second New Fears anthology, horror knows no boundaries.
A watery, Gothic update of Greek myth by an exciting new voice in dark fiction.
In volume 4 of The Murderbot Diaries, Murderbot’s climactic showdown with an evil corporation pushes the rogue SecUnit to its limits, and beyond.
Yes, you can turn them into pigs, but there are so many other situations women find themselves in and such a variety of possible responses. Gods and Heroes, trigger warning: not all of them act like gentlemen.
Being different is hugely consequential for teens who populate graphic novels, as well as for teens who read them.
The Black God’s Drums beats a hammer of imagination against the anvil of history and forges a dense alternate history.
To mark summer’s midpoint, here are a few of the best speculative short stories Amanda has read since summer’s inauguration back in June.
Murderbot is back. Its mission: help to bring down GrayCris, the evil corporation that has made thievery and killing a business model.
A reincarnated Buddhist monk, armed with the wisdom of many lifetimes (and a little black magic), tries to solve a murder mystery and bring enlightenment to all beings.
It’s a perfect world. Just a little bit too full of people.
Sam J. Miller’s new novel wrestles with catastrophes to come, and what kind of power might form out of the struggle.
The final tale in the Queens of Renthia saga is here. More queens, more lands, more spirits, and answers to questions as large as the universe.
Nebula Award finalist novellas are plot-twisty, gender-bending, humorous, and pithy with Big Questions in a smaller, digestible format.