Title: The Good Guys
Author Name & Publisher: Francis Gideon (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date: December 9, 2015
When Oliver meets a really cute elf while out Live Action Role Playing, he thinks he’s found the Sam to his Frodo. He tries to find out more about Oakenshire the Elf, but comes up with nothing. When summer vacation forces the LARPing group to take a break, Oliver throws himself into his upcoming play, where he is one of the main leads. There he meets a new person to captivate his attention: Avery.
She’s smart, funny, and into all the same things that Oliver is into, even LARPing. As their friendship progresses, Oliver begins to notice the similarities the young woman has to Oakenshire the Elf. It could be his final chance to see his elf again—or another case of mistaken identity that will leave Oliver fumbling with pronouns, excuses, and hurt feelings.
Oliver is a really refreshing character. He’s honest about his inner struggles, but he’s also not overdrawn. I think my favorite part was when he talked about liking to skip the kids-and-mortgage talk and go right to the next level of conversation. That’s exactly how I am, and it made me want to meet Oliver in real life.
Avery is absolutely terrific. They are one of the best bi-gender characters I’ve read. Genderqueer and fluid characters can be tricky to write because there are so many variations. But Avery was fantastic, and I loved the way the relationship developed with Oliver.
My only (very brief) hesitation was in how Oliver’s bisexuality seemed at first to be in the “confused” category. Not that bisexual people can’t ever be confused, but the author didn’t seem to quite know at first how to handle Oliver identifying that way. But by the end of the story, that was cleared up just fine, and the biggest thing I appreciated was how it was absolutely clear that for Oliver, bisexual did not just mean “men and women only” (common misconception that occasionally comes out in fiction). So my initial hesitation was definitely put to rest.
Before my review becomes longer than the actual story, I’ll just say again how much I loved and appreciated it. Excellent writing, great characters, and a sweet story that never felt too much like “educating people on trans issues.” Very well done.
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Francis Gideon is an editor and writer. He has appeared in Microscenes, Gay Flash Fiction, and JMS Books. He lives in Canada.