Way back in 1982 in El Paso Texas in a bookstore that disappeared only months later I bought a book I’d only heard about in a review in Ares Magazine #3 from 1980. Yet, the review left such an impression on me I recognized the title right away.
For the record, here is the review, written by Greg Costikyan, in its entirety:
I’m surprised that Kathleen Sidney’s Michael and the Magic Man was published as a fantasy novel. It is, of course; but it is also the kind of novel that will appeal to mainstream readers. There is no doubt that a “fantasy” label on the spine ghettoizes a novel to some extent, so I doubt the novel will receive the mainstream critical attention it deserves.
Michael and the Magic Man is a story of a group of psychics wandering across America in a van, the world’s only defense against nefarious, psychic, alien invaders. They are and can be the only defenders, for their story would be dismissed as insanity were they to reveal it to the authorities, who have already been infiltrated by the invaders and therefore cannot be trusted. But things are not as they seem…
Sidney is a writer of considerable power; Michael and the Magic Man is as innovative as it is unusual. One hopes that she will be accorded the recognition she deserves.Greg Costikyan Ares #3,
What was it about that review that stuck with me for two years? Looking back from the vantage point of forty years I cannot tell you. The best I have is the quirk of memory I have which while not eidetic seems to be the next “best” thing 1.
What I do remember is the novel. It was only printed that one time and was the author’s only published novel, at least under the name Kathleen M. Sidney. For no reason, I can put my finger on it spoke to sixteen-year-old me. Sure, it contains some discussion of alienation and finding a place to belong, in fact, the conclusion to the novel hinges on that idea. Still, I do not think that is it.
As I noted, it was published in 1980 meaning its writing and gestation dated to the 1970s. The 70s get a bad rap these days, largely earned, but there was also something in the air. There was a sense of not necessarily hope. I think the best word is an adventure, but even that isn’t quite right. At least, not an adventure in the sense that existed prior to World War 2.
For some reason, the book flooded back into my mind yesterday. I’m sad to see Kathleen M. Sidney only had four publications. At this point, I’m asking myself, “how could I arrange to get the rights to get this in print as an eBook?” I don’t want to be a publisher, but…
Well, for me this is one of those books. You know the book, the one book that only you have read but want everyone to read. On the rare occasion, you meet someone else who has read it, the two of you form an instant bond. The kind of book you want to thank the author for writing because it means that much to you.
So, I can’t think of a better way to say that than try to find out how to get it out as an eBook. Then I can give it and people can read it then they can give it.
I guess that’s not a bad thing to remind myself can happen on the day I don’t want to write. I suspect getting info on this book and the idea of resurrecting it is as much about reminding myself to write as anything else.
- Best is in scare quotes because a good memory is as much a curse as a blessing, but that’s a whole other series of blog posts and a half-finished novel