Lis Carey Review: The Early Conundrums: A Spade/Paladin Collection

Spade is a SMoF, a “Secret Master of Fandom.” He travels the country helping fan-run conventions run successfully. Mostly that’s in his area of expertise, staying out of financial and tax trouble. Sometimes, something more obviously dangerous comes up. For instance, an unexpected dead body. In the first of these five adventures, Spade is on his own in solving the case while preventing a PR disaster for the convention. In the second, he meets Paladin. She’s somewhat of a rogue detective, also very much a part of fandom.  They do not mesh easily at first. Or ever, really, but they do tackle cases together, pooling their skills.

The Early Conundrums: A Spade/Paladin Collection (A Spade/Paladin Conundrum), by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WMG Publishing, Inc., June 2012

Review by Lis Carey: 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 running 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 skillsets.

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.

I bought this book.

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7 thoughts on “Lis Carey Review: The Early Conundrums: A Spade/Paladin Collection

  1. Early Conundrums Is a first person narrative which makes it perfect as a audio experience. Rish Outfield Is the narrator here and makes a spot on Spade.

  2. I enjoyed them a lot–but then, Ruth and I are characters on one of the stories.:)

    There’s also the novel, Ten Little Fen.

  3. Lis Carey: Very soon. In fact, we could have been looking at it in the rear view mirror if not for a certain correction!

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