Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club


The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club is a slice of life narrative about a group of tabletop gamers and their interrelationships written by Doug Henderson. Released 21st April 2021 by the University of Iowa Press, it's 252 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. 

I am a lifelong gamer (and proud geek). This book ticked a lot of boxes for me. The setting is clearly one which is familiar to the author and there's a lot of potential here. He's an adept storyteller and there are glimmers of good ideas which never quite gel. The book reads like a young adult/NA offering but is in no way appropriate for younger readers. There are adult themes which wouldn't be appropriate for younger readers (threatened/actual homophobic violence, sexual situations, rough language, etc). I also admittedly had trouble engaging with any of the primary characters. They were all too caricature-ish or unpleasant. 

The problems with the narrative and plotting all feel surmountable with some ruthless rewrites and careful trimming (the entire vampire subplot was fairly superfluous). The author is undoubtedly a creative soul and has an interesting and valid voice. Although this particular book fell flat for me personally (way too many cheap sexual "jokes" and innuendos), I am interested to see how his storytelling develops in future. 

Three stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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