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!
The difficult details about real traumas China suffered in the early 20th Century make this widely-praised trilogy uniquely interesting. The unusual fantasy elements and atypical heroine’s journey are bonuses.
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Ted Chiang’s second collection of award-winning stories, reviewed.
A Review of the excellent Sing Your Sadness Deep by British Fantasy Award winner and Shirley Jackson Award finalist Laura Mauro.
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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.
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If three consecutive novel Hugos have not convinced you N. K. Jemisin is a modern master, this collection will bridge the gap.
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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.
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In the second New Fears anthology, horror knows no boundaries.