Spade is a SMoF, a Secret Master of Fandom; i.e., one of the people who travel the country helping fan-run science fiction conventions operate successfully. He’s mainly the guy who understands the finance side of putting on a non-profit, fan-run convention. But every so often a puzzle or problem comes up that Spade is able to solve quickly and quietly, avoiding trouble for the con. That’s where he got the nickname Spade, although in build, personality, and wealth, he’s more of a Nero Wolfe than a Sam Spade.
Paladin is short, smart, pixie-ish in build, with elf-like, slightly pointed ears – and by her own description a bulldozer in her approach to problems, rather than someone with any finesse. Like Spade, she solves mysteries and problems in science fiction fandom. Unlike Spade, though she’s very much a real fan like he is, she’s also earning her living doing this. Both she and Spade want to keep sf cons as safe as possible; Paladin does this by targeting those who would prey on the children and young teens in fandom.
This book includes five adventures, the first one Spade’s alone, and the other four the two of them teaming up for tasks that require both their skill sets.
Rusch captures the experience of working on an sf convention, even while including far more exiting and alarming events than I’ve ever actually encountered. (Of course, I’m a very local conrunner, and have mostly pulled back from major con jobs in the last several years. So there may be a lot I don’t know about … )
These stories are interesting, fun, and very satisfying. Recommended.
(WMG Publishing, 2012)