When I saw the “Gateway” square for Bingo, I thought for a bit on the best way to introduce people to the wonder that is Drew Hayes. I mean, Super Powereds is a long haul, and it takes commitment. I’ve told some colleagues to start with the Fred series, as the audiobook is on the shorter side (a little over 7 hours) and is structured in smaller chunks. It also kind of eases you into the weird. (Also, Kirby Heybourne is also a fantastic audiobook reader, and makes the whole experience absolutely delightful!)
All of the Fred books are made up of 5 short stories that are complete in themselves, but build on each other. The first book is very much an introduction, as each story introduces a character that will play a role in the next story as well as the rest of the series. They are also all told in first person by Fred, unless he is missing from a crucial scene, in which case someone else will take that role. As he learns about the new magics and monsters that surround him, so do we.
Fred is a normal, boring accountant. Well, scratch the “normal” part. He’s a vampire. When we meet him, he’s been a vampire for roughly a year, after getting ambushed and being left for undead on the way home from the grocery store. Unfortunately for him, becoming undead doesn’t magically imbue you with a sense of charm and suavity and sexy good looks. His personality and deposition haven’t changed from the awkward, cowardly person he was before dying. He just switched to night hours and kept on running his accounting business. While Fred may declare himself boring, his life is about to become anything but, hence the reason for the book he’s writing. The whole series is set up as a memoir for future parahumans who find themselves disenchanted in their new lifestyle that isn’t magically glamorous. To quote the Prologue: “You will eventually discover that under the movie stereotypes, imposed mystique, and overall inflated expectations, each and every one of us is at least a touch more boring than our images would indicate. And that is not a bad thing.”
Until the start of the series, Fred has been fairly isolated, not really involved in the world around him. He knew vampires existed, of course, but didn’t really push all that hard to find others of his kind. Each of the five stories introduces Fred, and therefore us, to another aspect of parahuman society. While Fred may have low expectations of himself, he manages to pull through every time. His confidence grows slightly with every hurdle he encounters, and his life changes with every new friend he meets. His life had been fairly safe until his friends made that impossible. Becoming a vampire didn’t change who Fred was as a person, but making friends did.
This fulfills the CBR12 Bingo square of “Gateway.”