Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Random Play All and the League of Awesome by Shane Halbach, originally appearing in Crossed Genres’ Anthology, “Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way” in 2013.
Fiction Friday: Random Play All and the League Of Awesome
Today, we have a superhero story. Sometimes, superhero fiction can be just as entertaining as their comic book counterpart. I had a superhero story long ago and perhaps someday, I’ll try my hand at one again.
In any case, I’m reviewing Random Play All and the League Of Awesome, by Shane Halbach, Narrated by Justin Thomas James, reappearing in Cast Of Wonders. You can find it here. It’s a ridiculously fun superhero story about a young man and his buddies finding out about their so-called superpowers. At first, I was confused by that the term “Random Play All” meant, but I’ll let the story speak for itself. Shall we begin?
The story is centered around Cyrus, a young man with a love for music. He carried his MP3 player set to a random song. He soon discovers, thanks to his friend, Milo “The Ferret” Baumstein, that he has a strange power to predict the future. Due to his friend’s power, being able to gain information, he’s able to convince his friend to join their super club “The League of Awesome.” Naturally, Cyrus finds all of this stupid and goes back to his normal day.
At home, his mother is working with a man named Herman, but due to Milo dropping by, they discover that Herman isn’t who he says he is. The two investigate, along with another kid, Rudy AKA Stakeout Boy (I’m sorry, Stakeout MAN), whose power is that he is never bored, giving him a heightened sense of concentration.
You can guess that none of their powers are in the slightest bit extraordinary. And that’s what makes this so humorous. Nothing is really special, yet these kids believe they have true superpowers.
Which leads them to Herman’s place of work and discover a big scheme in identity theft to steal from people. And things go downhill from there for our heroes as they find a way to escape.
This story is so fun to listen to, and while I’ll mention it later, the narration made it better. It feels like a plot to a children’s TV show and I can easily see this play out in my head, even though audio. With newfound “powers, they embark on a crazy night that puts them in genuine danger.
I mean, let’s talk about their superpowers. Cyrus can somehow predict their fate by playing any song from any device. You can easily chalk that up to coincidence. Perhaps the song made him think really hard about a plan.
Milo is able to gain information from anywhere at any time. This too is nothing unusual. People gossip all the time. After all, the best ones know everything about everyone. Milo does seem like the type to believe that he has a real superpower.
And then there’s Rudy, who isn’t shown until halfway through the story. He’s never bored. Again, it’s not even a superpower. Anyone can find anything to do and not be bored.
What I’m getting at here is that their powers are so goofy and lame that it works in the story’s favor. After all, while nobody can fly or shoot beams from their eyeballs, we all have some unique superpower. For me, I’m very alert and can remember a lot. That’s not a superpower, but that’s what makes this so fun. They take ordinary traits and play make-believe. It’s hilarious in so many ways.
The main character is Cyrus. He’s an ordinary kid who loves to listen to music. He’s the kind of hero who doesn’t believe any of them have superpowers but tries to get his friend to snap out of it. His friend, Milo, is that annoying best bud that always wants you to get into his crazy schemes. Always the thinker, but never the smartest one. His friend, Rudy, is quiet and doesn’t say much, but he joins along because he has nothing better to do (Which I find hilarious).
The three have such a unique chemistry that, again, I can imagine this playing out in a kids cartoon. Three kids who think they have superpowers go on adventures. We’ve seen these kinds of stories all before, but their superpowers are so basic that it adds to the humor of the story. Anyone can have their powers, but it’s the thought that drives this story.
The main villain, Herman Miller, is a con-artist who has a case of identity theft. His real name is Jack Covington and he plans to steal money from Cyrus’s mother. He’s also pretty nasty since, towards the end, he pulls a gun on the kids twice. I was actually a little jarred by this, but no one was hurt in the end.
The writing was hilarious and added to the fun nature of the story. The story has mentions of songs, which I would guess the writer actually played around with a random play feature on his MP3 player of choice. The narration is where it really shines. The acting was fantastic and adds to the story. It truly brought the story to life and I imagined the situations clearly. Especially Milo’s, which almost sounds like the kind of character that has a sneaky voice. He really runs with the nickname “The Ferret.”
So that’s the story. It’s another reprint, but it was a fun read. Definitely look into it if you get the chance. Next week will be our first Novella, so stay tuned for that.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.