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!
To mark summer’s midpoint, here’s 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.
It’s Nebula Awards season! Our editors share their thoughts on a selection of nominees for Best Shorty Story and Best Novelette.
Adeyemi's breakout debut features a richly drawn world inspired by West African traditions, compassionate social commentary, and a new take on magic.
How much more Gothic could The Atrocities be? None. None more Gothic.
Going from beloved classic book to blockbuster movie is a tricky proposition. The writers at Fiction Unbound weigh in on what worked, and what didn't.
Kelly Robson's new novella cannily links time travel escapism to our ecological crisis.
With the exciting film release of A Wrinkle in Time, the Fiction Unbounders went back to the source material and re-lived some childhood magic.
The Unbound Writers review and revel in the newest Marvel super hero film: Black Panther
Pairing Guillermo del Toro's water monster romance with Sofia Samatar's celebrated 2013 selkie story.
The Last Jedi turns expectations upside down and fans inside out.
S.A. Chakraborty's debut novel sweeps readers away on a flying carpet to the magical city of Daevabad, where Cairo orphan Nahri will learn the truth - both the incredible and the ugly - about her family's history.
Blake Crouch's Dark Matter is a light science fiction adventure about the road not traveled. Let's dive in!
Need an epic fix while you wait for the Game of Thrones finale? Look no further than the beauty and bluntly rendered brutality of Linnea Hartsuyker's adrenaline-fueled historical novel set in ninth-century Norway.
Read Strange Weather with a nice warm blanket you can hide under.
Paolo Bacigalupi's Tool of War examines questions of biological determinism, free will and the unforeseen consequences of genetic engineering.
Carmen Maria Machado's astonishing short story collection queers reality itself.
The Twilight Pariah, part ghost story, part murder mystery, swings from the craftily conventional to the truly inventive.
Whether reading online or listening to podcasts during your commute, some of the best writing in speculative fiction is debuting in online venues.
Jeff VanderMeer's new novel is a rare science fiction treasure.
In the second book of Sarah Beth Durst's The Queens of Renthia fantasy series, an ordinary woman finds that to save her family she may first have to save the world.
Native American ghost story? Psychological thriller? Portrait of a young mind struggling to cope with unspeakable grief and existential rage? Stephen Graham Jones's haunting novella is all of the above, and more.
Death's End brings Chinese science fiction luminary Cixin Liu's mind-blowing trilogy to its inevitable and spectacular end.
Catherynne M. Valente's salty collection of comic-book women in refrigerators, reviewed.
Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology pairs perfectly with a visit to “Vikings: Beyond the Legend” at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.