Author: Mur Lafferty
Price: free ebook, $16.99 paperback
Genre: Fantasy and Sci Fi
Point of Sale: author's site, Lulu
There are a few fictional touchstones that most people have in common. The Bible, Shakespeare, Tolkien... superheroes. Several generations of us how now grown up with superhero comics. I bonded with the soap opera style 80's X-Men, and indies like Zot and Distant Soil. I worked my way back into the older books from there, Dr. Strange, Dazzler, Warlord.... And the latest development is superpowers with a hefty dose of satire, parody or just a straight out, good ol' reality check. And this was more or less what I was expecting from 'Playing for Keeps'.
The story starts strongly with Keepsie, a woman whose power of stopping people from stealing her stuff just isn't good enough to get her a place in the academy. I loved the opening scene of a gal just trying to get to work through a battle between a pompous hero and robot-riding villain. The villain slips Keepsie a mysterious sphere and her suspicions about their motives and her wounded pride mean she refuses to give it to the so-called heroes.
From there things get more interesting in some ways as we meet the cast of Keepsie's band on not-very-super-powered friends and hangers on. But the action also devolves into a lot of running here and there and instead of playing with super-hero cliches the plot seems to depend on them. That is to say, people bump into each other coincidentally, the action and fight scenes play become increasingly implausible, 'normal' people are basically invisible except as occasional victims... and the main solution to problems seems to involve getting more power.
So although I still kind of liked Keepsie at the end I felt the book ended up endorsing the very ideas it started out poking fun at.