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Playing for Keeps

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,881 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
The shining metropolis of Seventh City is the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, the grace to carry a tray and never drop its contents, the power to ...more
ebook, 260 pages
Published 2008
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Infected by Scott SiglerEarthcore by Scott SiglerThe Rookie by Scott SiglerNocturnal by Scott SiglerAncestor by Scott Sigler
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 09, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You may not know it yet, but you want this book. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Hey, Jason, maybe *you* want this book, but how do you know that *I* want it?" Well, nameless faceless reader, I'm glad you asked that.

If you like superhero stories, you'll like this book. It's got the usual fun action, adventure, and cool superpowers that make your inner fan-person go "squee."

If you don't like superhero stories, you'll like this book. Instead of focusing on the jet-setting antics of a few too-
Jun 26, 2009 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The collection of folks with lame powers in a supers setting is something of its own subgenre, complete with its own tropes and dangers. The single greatest accomplishment of this book is how deftly it avoids most of those traps. Most notably, there are very few scenes where the heroes end up in a situation where their esoteric power is exactly the right solution, and thank goodness for that. Similarly, Lafferty does a great job of starting things off morally gray and keeping them there, rather ...more
If this book was a movie it would be a low budget Direct to Video one. Previously, I would have given this a 1-Star but I've evolved as a reader and am now mature enough to save my 1-stars to those books that are an abomination.

Areas in which this book was lacking:


Keepsie and her friends are Third Wave heroes, which are people with useless superpowers like keeping all bar trays upright or knowing things about people from sniffing them. In a town run by real superheroes and infested with su
Shedrick Pittman-Hassett
The “misfit superhero” storyline is nothing new. One of my all-time favorite movies is 1999′s Mystery Men about a team of wannabes who have to step up and become real heroes to save Champion City from the clutches of the evil and delightfully campy Casanova Frankenstein. That movie was based on characters from the cult comic book Flaming Carrot. There was also the The Specials, which followed the misadventures of the “sixth or seventh best superhero team in the world.” Another prime example is B ...more
Gail Carriger
Nov 19, 2009 Gail Carriger rated it really liked it
Shelves: author-friends
I picked up Mur's book because I am a fan of her podcast and I feel it helped me to get published and I wanted to pay her back in some way. I'm very glad I did as I heartily enjoyed Playing for Keeps. I love her basic premise that in addition to major super powers there are minor ones as well. (I, myself, seem to posses the inexplicable ability to turn off street lights.) I'm a big fan of the secondary characters and of the love interest in this book. I was left wanting more.

I could also see an
Aug 22, 2008 Ron rated it it was amazing
I didn't read the book, instead, I listen to the podcast of it. I loved it! This story gives you a unique twist about the whole superhero/villian story. Furthermore, the powers of some of the people in this story is ridiculously funny!! I didn't think I'd like this story as much as did. It's a definite listen.
Sep 15, 2013 Sunil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Upon discovering that Campbell Award winner Mur Lafferty had written a book about superheroes with shitty powers, I immediately bought it, and I have no regrets. Playing for Keeps is a fun ride.

Keepsie Branson runs a bar for members of the Third Wave, those with powers deemed too useless to be worthy of superherodom. Her power? No one can take anything from her. Hurrah, go fight crime with that. Her best friend can balance anything on a bar tray. BIG WHOOP. It's not invulnerability and flight an
Morgue Anne
Nov 20, 2009 Morgue Anne rated it it was amazing
Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty is an interesting new take on the superhero genre. Just like in real life, you’re not entirely sure who the “good” guy is, because everyone in charge has their own agenda – the only difference is that these politicians have superpowers. Actually, almost everyone has powers, but the only people who get to have the “super” prefix to their names are the ones who have really good ones like flight and invisibility. Everyone else gets stuck with things like summoning ...more
Erin Penn
I haven't been overly tempted by the Seventh City series, though I love good superhero prose. This book about the lower powered crew did tempt me and made it worth the ride after a slow start.

Good solid, middle of the road, e-book only superhero prose. Much longer than I thought when I bought it (over 100 pages instead of the normal 50 or so) - which turned out to be good. The author takes a while to get engrossing. The concept had me buy the book, but by the third or fourth chapter the poor dia
Jun 16, 2014 Clint rated it liked it
The previous superheroes-in-modern-day book I read was the "Worm" epic by Wildbow, which set the bar rather high. This doesn't come close to topping that; this doesn't, however, make "Playing for Keeps" a bad book. I enjoyed the rogues-vs-established-heroes conflict as it was presented, but had a few concerns with the book:

1. The character voices often felt muddled. There were several times where I found myself thinking, "Wait, why is *this* character avoiding contractions? They've never avoided
Aug 05, 2014 Trever rated it liked it
Enjoyable self-published book. The audiobook was read by the author herself, who does a much better job of reading than many other authors I've listened to. Be warned, though, that the audiobook version has a very annoying repeating musical riff that breaks up the narrative podcast-style about every ten minutes, and by the end of the book it will get on your nerves.

Keepsie and her friends are D-list superpowered people, not effective enough to be real superheroes and get academy training. Inste
Hisham El-far
Dec 22, 2015 Hisham El-far rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Superhero/Supervillain stories!
This is a fun little book, I was immediately sucked into the story, I'm a sucker for Superhero/Supervillain stories - and this one focuses on the poor schmucks caught between the Virtuous and the Devilish.

The main focus of the story is on the "Third Wavers", folk who also got powers, but powers that have been written off as useless or downright disgusting. Ability to sober someone up with a touch, Able to smell the history of something, ability to never drop a bar tray! Get the picture?

The title
May 28, 2016 Darrell rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, podcasts
Keepsie and her friends have useless superpowers like elevator control and the ability to know what other people want to have for lunch. They resent the arrogant superheroes, but aren't fans of the villains either. Mostly they hang out in Keepsie's bar and complain. However, after the city is threatened, their useless powers are about to come in handy.

This was a fun book, but it was slow moving. The characters spent too much time talking about what they should do next, and I was able to figure o
Aug 29, 2015 Zogman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd read the Shambling Guide books and loved them. I bought this to see how good it was compared with them. I'd also tried to read 'Heaven' by the same author, but simply couldn't finish it.

I liked the idea of the 'almost hero' group with random useless powers. I liked the way Keepsie's power was 'enhanced' by a little lateral thinking. The book started well, seemed to falter in the middle and then built to a climax in the last third. I found this quite predictable and a tad irritating. Even mo
Dec 19, 2008 Tee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a slightly different spin on superheroes, give Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps a read. With that dry wit that only Mur can create, this was a real fun trip. Thanks, Mur, for taking my love of comic books and superheroes and setting it off-kilter!
Feb 07, 2016 Wendy rated it liked it
I enjoy quirky and surprising super hero stories. I love The Tick, Squirrel Girl, and almost anything that explores what it means to be a hero. This story satisfies a lot of what I'm looking for. Keepsie in particular is great. Lafferty does a fantastic job of pushing the boundaries of what the so-called lesser powers can do.

There were some elements of the humor that didn't do it for me at all. I understand why it's there, but it doesn't mean I have to dig it. There were rough patches and a cou
May 30, 2016 Jacky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Playing for Keeps back in Feburary. It's been sitting on my shelf for years and for some reason I never bothered, which is hilarious given how much I love this book. I mean I listened to it as a podcast before it was even picked up by the print publisher. I listened to the fan cast. The only fanfiction I ever wrote started out in Keepsie's bar. It was one of the first superhero things I ever actually liked. And yet, it sat ignores on myself for at least 3 or 4 years. And when I finally pi ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, super-heroes
I loved the idea of this book--people with less than spectacular powers getting caught up in a super heroes vs. super villains war and not quiet knowing which side to take.

I was impressed with the wide variety of super powers and the creativity behind them. The super heroes get the typical powers, including super strength and flight, but there is also a few interesting originals--like a guy who's tattoos can come to life. The super villains have their own interesting powers--control over machine
Mar 25, 2009 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read. I almost feel bad only giving it a 3 out of 5; it seems like it deserves a bit more, but I've reset a bunch of ratings recently, so that's probably where it falls on my list. That's not a bad rating, I quite enjoyed it. The primary plot points appeared a bit...trumped up, I guess. Unfocused. Arguably a good representation of how things would happen in "real life"; there's no actual narrative rhythm. Things just happen, and we wire them together in retrospect. But for novels, that fee ...more
Melissa Hayden
Dec 15, 2013 Melissa Hayden rated it it was amazing
Ooh goodness, this was fun. Humor of personalities along with lame superhero powers. Yep, win-win. All need to listen/read this one. Fun and great story with superheroes and villains, and those in the middle. But think twice about who you think are which. ;)

When Keepsie is taken captive by Doodad, a super villain, and she finds he slipped a metal sphere in her pocket, the crew of Third Wavers that visits Keepsies bar stand with their friend and get drawn into the constant batt
Dave Hogg
Dec 16, 2013 Dave Hogg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-f
I'd read a novella of Mur's that was set in the Siglerverse and really enjoyed it -- even if I then made a nitwit of myself by complimenting her on Twitter and misnaming the book.

Later, I read The Shambling Guide to New York City and was thrilled by it -- it's on my growing list of books to review. Since there's still a while until Ghost Train to New Orleans comes out, I grabbed Playing For Keeps for my Kindle the other day.

The first night, I started reading at 11pm, and finally had to drag myse
Dec 30, 2009 Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2008, fiction, fantasy, 2009
Please note this book is available for a free download as a .pdf file here. The .pdf also includes a short story that follows the novel: "Parasite Awakens". You can also buy this book from .

Hang on to your tights and secret identity! Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty is an imaginative and entertaining new superhero story that will leave you looking at caped crusaders in an entirely new way.

The story revolves around Keepsie Branson, a bar owner in the shining metropolis of Seventh City
Sep 10, 2008 Tyan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick, entertaining read. The main character is Keepsie. She lives in a world inhabited by heroes and villains with superpowers, as well as a class of people with minor powers, classified as too insignificant to make them useful to serve as heroes. Keepsie's own power is the ability to prevent people from stealing things from her. When one of the villains gives Keepsie something to keep things get really interesting. Keepsie and her other "Third Wave" friends find themselves stuck bet ...more
Eric Juneau
Nov 04, 2013 Eric Juneau rated it it was ok
A freebie, and the sole written word I've read from the First Lady of Podcasting. Mur's pixie voice and soft-spoken geekitude rings out in waves in this superhero novel - if the guys from "Cheers" were C-list superheroes forced into action, pitted against both superhero and supervillain. This is for the Matter-Eater-Lads, the Bouncing Boys, and the Lasso Kids of the comic book world.

Well, it's a good concept anyway. But the problem is the plot goes around and around and it never feels like you
Lady Ozma
Jan 31, 2009 Lady Ozma rated it it was amazing
What happens when the superheroes turn out to be less than heroic? What about those people with less desirable (to those who would be heroes at least) superpowers?

Meet the regulars, who are anything but regular, at a local bar in a city overrun with supes on both sides of the law. When they get caught up between the villians and the heroes, things turn a little hectic. What will they discover about the world they live in and their own selves.

Action, adventure, heroism from unusual places, and a
Val Booklover
Well, this was different for sure.
This book was a complicated cocktail (like a Commonwealth or a good Bloody Mary from scratch) done by a promising dabbler bartender.
There are some funny things and some gross things, and great ideas, and bad ideas, and adolescent ideas, and angst, and some torture, and superpowers and evildoers, and some bizarre moments and some moving moments and some wtf? moments and some romantic moments.
Not bad at all, but...
Ken Reed
Mar 24, 2014 Ken Reed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Why can't I give this book a 10? Stupid rules. Ok, here is the deal....the writing was good, but the story and idea was way better. It's a story about heroes. Real heroes. The ones that have to make tough decisions and live with them. "With great power comes great responsibility." But what about mediocre power? Also, this book taught me a fantastic lesson. We are who we think we are. If we think we are losers, we are. Enough said. Read the book.
Bill Glover
Aug 09, 2009 Bill Glover rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys superhero fiction with a sincere but funny style.
Mur Lafferty tells the story of Keepsie, who's superpower is to hang onto anything that belongs to her. That's not enough to make her a superhero in Seventh City, so she owns a bar where the other second-rate heros hang out. She's bitter about her place in life but comfortable until the day it all goes wrong.

This is a fun read, and a story you won't want to put down. There are plenty of rough edges, but this book was originally written as a serialized podcast and then collected into a novel. It
Nov 28, 2010 Liv rated it liked it
Recommends it for: folks who liked Mystery Men, and loveable losers
Shelves: fiction, humour
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Mur Lafferty is the author of The Shambling Guides series from Orbit books, as well as several self pubbed novels and novellas, including the award winning Afterlife series. She is the host of podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers. She is the recipient of the John Campbell Award for best new writer, the Manly Wade Wellman Award, and joined the Podcast Hall of Fame in its inaugural year.

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