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Playing For Keeps [Kindle Edition]

Mur Lafferty
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £2.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

Winner of the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Novel. From the 2012 John W. Campbell Award Nominee.

Why does every superhero have to be superstrong, immune to bullets, be able to fly, and look good in tight clothing and a cape?
What if real superpowers come from inside?

If every super power is supposed to be used for good or evil, why are some people born with completely useless ones?
In this world, the superheroes are heroes, but they're jerks.
The villains are charming, but manipulative and, well, villains.
And both groups got the best powers: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire.

The Third Wave of heroes are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, absolute control...over elevators. Bar owner Keepsie Branson has the power that prevents anything in her possession from being stolen. Useless in the realm of crime fighting (or -causing.) Or is it?

**Praise for Playing for Keeps: **

"Lafferty executes the story brilliantly, crafting a city and denizens so well-defined, you'd think they were pulled from a top-selling four-color comic." Award-winning author JC Hutchins

"a super-hero book with a twist ... a truly rousing tale of friendship, sacrifice, and commitment" author Matthew Wayne Selznick

""This is a novel of cliffhangers that had me going from page one until I closed the covers." ~BoingBoing.net


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 435 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1934861162
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Restless Brain Media (14 July 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001GAOUFE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #146,398 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The queen of podcasting does it again! 1 Aug. 2008
Format:Paperback
Being a fan of the superhero genre is not in anyway necessary to realy enjoy this novel.
Mur has crafted a plassable world with some very likeable and equally evil characters (not always the ones you think), that make this story a joy ride from start to finish.
This may be her first published work of fiction, but is not her first novel. If you're unsure of trying a unheard of author there is a very easy solution. Go to her web site murverse.com. There she has many of her stories, recorded in her own voice, as audio files to download for free. If you like these books, her sence of humour, her writing style and prose, i guarantee you will like this as well.
I am a fan of murs and have been for a number of years. I hope that i have helped you become one too.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A super book about not-so-super heroes 25 Aug. 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mur Lafferty's first published novel is set in Seventh City, where superheroes form part of the local government infrastructure, with superpowers resulting from unexpected side effects of a drug administered during pregnancy. In this way the author grounds the fantastical element in just enough plausible scientific rationalisation to make it believable.

But the novel isn't about the superpowers, quirky and imaginative though many of them are (my favourite is the waitress's power of being able lift anything - so long as it's on a tray). No, the focus of the story is the effect on a group of people denied the coveted 'hero' designation because their powers are simply not good enough to qualify for government endorsement and funding at the Academy. These are the Third Wavers, many of whom hang out at Keepsie's Bar - the proprietor so nicknamed for her power of being able to 'keep' anything she owns safe from loss or theft. The Third Wavers regard the Academy with understandable suspicion and resentment, and the feeling is mutual. Add the fact that some of the actual superheroes are insufferably smug and arrogant and you have the makings of a superpowered conflict.

There's also a good deal of comedy, and some adult language, though nothing with which a teenager wouldn't already be familiar. And while there's plenty of action, right from page one, the personal lives of Keepsie and her friends are portrayed with sensitivity, giving the novel depth and realism.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Average, with bad characterisation and ending 7 Sept. 2012
By Shishya
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I would say the book was highly average.

For one, the author had priced the book higher than similar books. Maybe it was my fault, but I was hence expecting a better book.

The book is about a group of second rate heroes, with powers like making drunk people sober, healing 1 mm of skin, and the heroine Keepsie, who can keep anything safe from being stolen.

The books started off good, and is a good read. However, I didnt like the character of Keepise, the main heroine. For one, she cant seem to make up her mind about who is good or bad. The so called "Good guys" (the superheroes supposed to fight the evil etc, who work for the government and draw a salary) in the book are a bunch of bullies, who torture and try to kill Keepsie and her friends. And yet, when one of Keepsies friend (who had been tortured) tries to fight them, she calls him a traitor. Its like she is Miss Perfect, 'oh we will take the high road'. And the next second she is fighting them herself.

The ending wasn't satisfying either. The evil scientist is defeated, but the most of the evil "super heroes" who had tortured Keepsie's friends get no punishment. There is no investigation into their actions. The books ends with Keepsie training with the same organisation that tried to murder her.

I would have like Keepsie to take a moral stand, to fight, to choose the right path. Instead, she comes off as a whiny loser, who mistreats her friends because they fail to keep up with her own moral standards.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Oh My God!!! 13 Mar. 2013
By Jenny
Format:Kindle Edition
Funny, witty, entertaining.

Mur has opened up an entire world of podiobooks for me, and for this I thank her!!!

Love Playing for Keeps!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  124 reviews
55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You've Never Read Of Heroes Like These - And You'll Want More! 2 Aug. 2008
By John Cmar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
PERSPECTIVE: sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fan

This, Mur Lafferty's first published novel, takes the tropes of comic book-style superheroes and villains, and brilliantly upends them to explore what lies underneath. The world of Playing for Keeps not only contains the previously mentioned costumed characters, but also a group of relatively normal folk - "third wavers" - who have special abilities too esoteric and underpowered to be useful for daring or mischief... or so it seems. What follows is a story that explores the complexities behind what it truly means to be a "hero," even when society has deemed that you are not.

Playing for Keeps is at turns epic and human, with everyday, flawed characters that are forced to contend with extraordinary challenges in which there is often no "right answer." Mur's prose is deft and evocative, making this a compelling, engrossing read to the very end.

FINAL WORD: A HIGH five of five stars, and a must read not only for fans of genre fiction, but anyone who enjoys an excellent tale. Highest recommendation.
71 of 87 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Playing for Cash 26 Aug. 2010
By Robert Jenner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have to admit - I purchased this book based on the impressive array of highly eloquent five-star reviews. I'm a longtime fan of the superhero novel genre and I'm usually very impressed by the likes of, just as examples, Austin Grossman, who wrote 'Soon I Will Be Invincible', that 'Devil's Cape' book whose author I forget and James Maxey's 'Nobody Gets the Girl'. I'm always looking for new ones and somewhat naively figured that if so many people liked this one I couldn't go wrong.

Unfortunately this book isn't very good. It's so not-good that I was actually moved to write a review about it, so that perhaps other people out there wouldn't waste their money the same way I did mine. The story's premise is serviceable enough: two groups of super-powered individuals, those with powers natural or otherwise deemed suitable for government exploitation become costumed heroes, while those with more modest abilities (such as spraying excrement from one's hands, which in her own way Lafferty does her best to handle with a certain amount of sensitivity) merely attempt to live their lives. The sort-of title character, Keepsie, who has the power to never lose anything, runs a bar for the latter group where they can relate to each other about how it sucks to have superpowers without getting respect or having the great responsibility that the government heroes do. One day, however, due to her powers, Keepsie is entrusted by a super-villain with an object that the superheroes seem at great pains to recover, and determines to get to the bottom of the story herself. These are the broad strokes, anyway.

The problem is that this novel is not fun to read. For one thing, Lafferty has no ear for dialogue. In particular the banter between her protagonists sounds like someone earnestly attempting to create a spoken shorthand between longtime friends by someone who understands both friendship and banter on a purely intellectual level, and most of the witticisms seem painfully contrived. For another, the motivations and actions taken by the characters are arbitrary, as if Lafferty had an outline of the novel's story beats in her hand when writing the book which went something like 'these guys at the bar go to point A, and do B, then go to point C, where they discover D, and then do E and then everyone goes back to the bar again, and then Keepsie goes catatonic for some reason', and then couldn't quite figure out how to get them there in a way that didn't seem forced or artificial. In fact, it seems like Lafferty goes to great lengths to make sure that Keepsie's Bar is in the story as often as possible, as if the idea that the novel's gimmick was a 'superhero-story-meets-Cheers' scenario was consciously foremost in her mind, and to sideline or marginalize this bar in the novel's story would have, I don't know, compromised the novel's back-copy. In short, nothing about this novel is remotely organic or feels like it develops naturally. Many of these reviewers talk about how this novel 'takes superhero tropes and puts them on their head' and whatnot, but in my opinion, she cut a bunch of superhero and pop-culture cliches out of a magazine, tried to paste them together, and slapped a $15 price tag on whatever came out.

I read an earlier reviewer who claimed that the bulk of the positive reviews are written by people in Lafferty's "New Media" circle, who write glowing reviews of each other's output in order to bolster their sales and credibility. It sounds like a grand conspiracy theory, but quite frankly, considering the quality of this book it is the most likely explanation. For the one or two people who may actually read this review - someday - I'd be happy to sit down, book in my hand, and cite specific examples of the criticisms I've discussed above, and more, and I would do this for no other reason than I am pissed off that these people outright swindled me out of my $15 and I would not wish the same on anyone else. It's not like I can get rid of this book either. I took it to Hastings to trade it and the UPC code doesn't scan, so they wouldn't take it. I'm STUCK with it unless I decide to chuck it in the trash. So I might as well put it to good use to prevent others from wasting their money as well.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cross between Watchmen and Mystery Men 3 Aug. 2008
By Brian D. Webber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The destruction of the myth that superhero stories aren't suited for prose fiction continues with Mur Lafferty's Playing For Keeps. The book, which centers on people who have powers, but not powers that would exactly guarantee them membership in the JLA or the Avengers, combines the humor and humanity of Mystery Men with the superhero deconstruction of Watchmen.
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prose, powers and protagonists: all play for keeps in this book 4 Aug. 2008
By J. C. Hutchins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Playing for Keeps" celebrates the superhero genre with its mighty chisel-chinned heroes and diabolical villains -- and then tosses the most-familiar elements of that setup on its head. The result is a delightful salute (and send up) to comic books; a world in which the good guys aren't as good as their propaganda posters proclaim ... and the villains' mission garners more sympathy than you might expect.

The book's Seventh City setting brims with super-folk, many of whom are like Keepsie, the story's lead protagonist. Sporting a power deemed too "passive" to be useful for official crimefighting by the local hero academy, Keepsie is mostly content to run her pub and scowl at the sycophantic TV reports about the city's caped crusaders. But when Seventh City's villains target her as the linchpin in a new conspiracy, Keepsie finds herself in an ethical quandary: she must either help the heroes who rejected her, or cave to the villains' whims...

...or does she? Keepsie and her pals create a third option, which forces them to stick together, stand against heroes and villains, and scrap for their lives.

It's a fun, funny and exciting romp, and author Lafferty executes the story brilliantly, crafting a city and denizens so well-defined, you'd think they were pulled from a top-selling four-color comic. Lafferty also deftly explores the ethics of superheroing, and the interpersonal conflicts that arise when blessed with such powers.

Perhaps best of all, "Playing for Keeps" reminds us that we can all be heroes -- a relevant and hopeful message for not just fans of the genre, but any reader. Highly recommended.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's it really mean to be a hero? 3 Aug. 2008
By Robin Hudson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What makes someone a hero? What are a hero's responsibilities? Heroes are good, right? Who decides who gets to be a hero and who has to stand on the sidelines? Why do they always have super cool powers? Or do they? What do you do when you find yourself on the wrong side of the law? You'll ask yourself these questions and more.

I used the podcast version of Playing for Keeps with my Advance English Language Conversation class at a women's university in Seoul, Korea. My students loved the story and found themselves questioning their assumptions about what makes a hero.
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