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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 19, 2020
I'm a reviewer with Abyss & Apex Magazine and received a review copy. Here's what I thought.
The first story, “The Bardic Guide to Disobedience” is about a Hero and his sidekick, a Bard. Their callings have rules, and they occasionally break them. Okay, more than occasionally. The creative ways in which they deal with the Bardic and Heroic bureaucracies is marvelous. Quite an adventure.
Next is “The Dilettante & Leonard” by Desmond Warzel. This author never disappoints, and this story was no exception. It's about an exclusive Playboy interview with the surviving sidekick of a superhero, and Warzel’s humor, as well as his deep and instinctive understanding of humanity comes through. It’s absolutely marvelous – don’t miss it.
Then we have “The Hour of the Rat” by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt. It was a good story, of malice and revenge, but it was quite a stretch to have it as part of an anthology about sidekicks. The junior of the two intruders was more of an innocent bystander.
In “Saving Simon” by Allen Stroud we have the tale of an ex-sidekick pressed back into service to reluctantly save her former employer. Except that’s not what’s going on at all, and what a twisted tale this one is!
Next is Su Haddrell’s “A Harlequin in the Shadows,” which is all about a pair of daring twins: half-fae, half-human highwaymen who get into a bit of a quandary when their antics get them turned in to the humans as criminals, only to find the humans are raiding the fae anyhow. The sidekick sister of The Harlequin defeated the raiders – the name her flashy brother had taken came from that diamond-patterned jacket and while her brother got the credit for her protection of the realm she was happy to take a back seat. Just like a good sidekick should.
“Henchman” by Chrissey Harrison is the story of a security guard who was a recent hire at a mysterious firm - a guy who lost a leg in the Army in Afghanistan. It turned out that his new employer was about to tangle with a superhero and a loyal member of the press – whom our amputee had met before. No one was who they seemed to be except the female journalist, who saves the day. Great story.
At first I thought I could see what was coming a mile away in “Charioteer” by John Houlihan. In this case the sidekick was a charioteer to a champion in a place where contests were not decided by armies, but by armed chariot clashes. It was written in a lush style full of braggadocio, orgies, and feasts. Yet when the champion’s sister, who was the brains of the pair, had it up to here with her brother treating her like crap… awesomeness ensued.
In “Just Like Goldfinger, Right?” by Ian Hunter there are sidekick tryouts, and Rory – our POV character – has made the finals. But things get very dangerous and he and the other applicants have to deal with the extremely unexpected…
“Well-Suited” by Steve Dillon is all about a retired superhero being interviewed for a magazine, reminiscing about the old days with his sidekick. Except one of them was hiding their gender with that suit because the public and the press could be cruel. And then the unthinkable tore them apart.
The anthology ends with a 12-step meeting of “Sidekicks Anonymous” by Jim Horlock. It’s a fitting bit of closure for the poor forgotten sidekicks, who manage to shine on their own and save the world despite being all-to-human. “Forgotten does not mean unimportant” indeed.
Fun collection of tales of the unsung sidekicks, ranging from fantasy to 'classic' superheroes & supervillains to a twist on the Charlie's Angels format. Standouts include John Houlihan's Rome-esque fantasy Charioteer, which sketches an allegorical fantasy world, a three-dimensional relationship, and lashings of violence