Friday, April 14, 2023

At Witt's End (A Spade/Paladin Conundrum), by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WMG Publishing, October 2018

Spade is back and this time the problem he faces is conducting a memorial for a recently deceased BNF (Big Name Fan) who never wanted any memorial, along with auctioning off the man's fabulous collection of science fiction fandom memorabilia, in a part of the country that doesn't have large enough conventions to be good fits for auctioning off such a large collection.

This fan, who like Spade went by just one name, Witt, is also the second fan this year, of Spade's general age, state of fitness, and diet, to die of diabetes. Spade is very resistant to changing his lifestyle and diet, and hasn't been diagnosed with diabetes yet, but he's starting to get the message. That, as much as losing an old friend, is making him depressed and cranky. And that's before another fandom detective, Paladin, pull him out of the room, and tells him the extremely valuable (within fandom), absolutely unique set of fanzines, has been stolen from the adjoining room, where Spade has set up multiple security cameras and made the fanzines really hard to notice.

Someone has done a masterful job of defeating Spade's security cameras, dropping white gloves over all the critical cameras without ever being caught by any of the other cameras. The thief has to be a fan, has to have been active in fandom in the 1960s, and still active now. 

But who? The effort expended in the theft required competent minions, and probably cost more than buying them would have. Where's the motive?

Along the way, Spade learns things about himself, his deceased friend, and and some still-living ones. It's another interesting look at fandom. Even if Spade is one of the conrunners who doesn't really get to have fun at the cons he's working, we do.

I bought this...without doing a wordcount, I think it's a novelette.

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