Soon to be a show on Hulu!
Rights to develop Wild Cards for TV have been acquired by Universal Cable Productions, the team that brought you The Magicians and Mr. Robot, with the co-editor of Wild Cards, Melinda Snodgrass as executive producer.
In 1946, an alien virus that rewrites human DNA was accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It killed ninety percent of those it infected. Nine percent survived to mutate into tragically deformed creatures. And one percent gained superpowers. The Wild Cards shared-universe series, created and edited since 1987 by New York Times #1 bestseller George R. R. Martin ("The American Tolkien" Time magazine) along with Melinda Snodgrass, is the tale of the history of the world since thenand of the heroes among the one percent.
Now a new generation of heroes has taken its place on the world stage, its members crucial players in international events. At the United Nations, veteran ace John Fortune has assembled a team of young aces known as the Committee, to assist at trouble spots around the world–including a genocidal war in the Niger Delta, an invasion of zombies in hurricane ravaged New Orleans, and a freak nuclear explosion in a small Texas town.
The Wild Cards Universe
The Original Triad
#1 Wild Cards
#2 Aces High
#3 Jokers Wild
The Puppetman Quartet
#4: Aces Abroad
#5: Down and Dirty
#6: Ace in the Hole
#7: Dead Man’s Hand
The Rox Triad
#8: One-Eyed Jacks
#9: Jokertown Shuffle
#10: Dealer’s Choice
#11: Double Solitaire
#12: Turn of the Cards
The Card Sharks Triad
#13: Card Sharks
#14: Marked Cards
#15: Black Trump
#16: Deuces Down
#17: Death Draws Five
The Committee Triad
#18: Inside Straight
#19: Busted Flush
#20: Suicide Kings
The Fort Freak Triad
#21: Fort Freak
#23: High Stakes
The American Triad
#24: Mississippi Roll
#25: Low Chicago
#26: Texas Hold 'Em
About the Author
George R.R. Martin is the author of the acclaimed, internationally bestselling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, adapted into the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. He is also the editor and contributor to the Wild Cards series, including the novels Suicide Kings and Fort Freak, among other bestsellers. He has won multiple science fiction and fantasy awards, including four Hugos, two Nebulas, six Locus Awards, the Bram Stoker, the World Fantasy Award, the Daedelus, the Balrog, and the Daikon (the Japanese Hugo). Martin has been writing ever since he was a child, when he sold monster stories to neighborhood children for pennies, and then in high school he wrote fiction for comic fanzines. His first professional sale was to Galaxy magazine, when he was 21. He has been a full-time writer since 1979. Martin has bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Contributors to this volume are:
Walton Simons & Ian Tregillis
John Jos. Miller
Kevin Andrew Murphy
Hometown:Santa Fe, NM
Date of Birth:September 20, 1948
Place of Birth:Bayonne, NJ
Education:B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971
Read an Excerpt
A Wild Cards Mosaic Novel
By George R. R. Martin, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2008 George R. R. Martin and The Wild Cards Trust
All rights reserved.
TO THE HUNGRY SOUL, EVERY BITTER THING IS SWEET
Melinda M. Snodgrass
I FIND MYSELF AVOIDING the passages about ashes and worms. The pages are thin, almost feathery beneath my fingers as I turn them, looking for another passage that won't fill my throat with bile. I know my father is dying. I don't have to read about it.
Here's one. It reads more like a page out of Lord Dunsany than a collection of musings by long-dead Hebrews. "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the water: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind." I have a good voice and I know how to use it. I use it now, softening and deepening the final words. I know he should sleep. I don't want him to sleep. I want to talk to him. Hear his voice before it's silenced.
That damn lump is back. I keep swallowing, trying to make it smaller. Through the mullioned panes I can see a glint of sun on the sluggish waters of the Cam. It's August, and it feels like this endless summer will never end. The room is breathlessly warm, and the heavy air holds that sick/sweet scent of fatal illness. I can feel my shirt clinging to the skin of my back. Outside there's the sputtering growl of a lawn mower somewhere on the street, and a dog carols his annoyance. I'll probably need to mow the lawn for my parents, or find a teenager. Through the open window I can smell the green. The branches of the apple tree out back sag under the rosy burdens. Maybe that's what happens to every living thing when they have to breed.
My father touches the back of my wrist. His skin feels just like the onion-thin pages of the Bible that now rests in my lap. "Thank ... you." His blue eyes are surprisingly alert in a face reduced to harsh bone and stretched skin. "There's wisdom between those covers," he adds, and transfers his hand to the Bible. "Maybe by reading to me you'll find some of it."
Fantasies and fairy tales, is what I think, but I keep control of my features. "So, you think I'm foolish." I grin at him. "Thanks."
"No." His expression is serious. "But I know that something is wrong. I raised you, Noel, you can't hide things from me."
He's smiling, but I still have that visceral gut clench that affects every child when their parents display that kind of preternatural omniscience. It passes quickly. After all, I'm twenty-eight, and I amuse myself for a moment wondering what he thinks I've done. No pregnant fans. I'm a hermaphrodite, so I'm sterile. I'm not in debt. Both my public job and my secret job pay me quite well. What could he imagine I had done? For a moment I toy with the idea of telling him.
You know I'm a member of the Silver Helix, Dad, a division of MI-7. What you don't know is that I'm their designated assassin. I don't remember how many people I've killed. They say you never forget your first. His face is as blank as all the others.
But of course I don't. Standing, I set aside the Bible and stretch. "Tea? There's lemon tarts, and some boiled tongue for sandwiches. Will you eat something?"
Our kitchen is small and cluttered, and several days' worth of dishes form towers in the sink. A fat fly moves lazily between the trash can and the dirty dishes. The buzzing is almost hypnotic. No, no, no. A sharp head shake drives back the sleepiness. Looks like I'm going to have to hire a maid as well as a teenager.
The tongue, sullenly red and pimpled with taste buds, gleams with congealed fat under the refrigerator light. American kitchens are almost obscene with their gigantic refrigerators crammed with food. We English are starting to go the same way. Who has time to shop for each day's meal that day?
I wonder who had cooked the tongue — certainly not my mother. She never cooked. My father took care of the house and the kid, and prepared every meal, and he fit every cliché about English cooking. A spurt of anger flares in the center of my chest, but I back down from it. It isn't Mum's fault he's dying. She was the bread winner so I suppose she had the right to dodge the drudgery. But I suspect if she hadn't worked she still wouldn't have cooked and cleaned.
Her devotion to radical feminism has defined her life. Hell, she was so militant that she made damn sure I was raised as a boy. Now figure that one out. They may look funny, but I've got both sets of genitalia. I could have been raised as a girl, and even kept the same name, just changed the pronunciation.
My pager vibrates. I stand there juggling the tongue while I search through my pockets for the correct pager. I'm wearing a med-alert pager since I am so often away from England, and I have the pager my manager uses to arrange my performances, I have one from the Committee that summons Lilith, and another from Prince Siraj, the man that commands Bahir, and I have the one given to me by the Silver Helix. It's Siraj calling.
Fuck you, says that febrile part of my mind. But I pull out my mobile and call him. Naturally he wants to see me. Naturally it has to be now. Naturally I'll go.
* * *
The only reason it was the premier of the United Arab Emirates who received a visit from Bahir and not the president was due to an infelicitous exchange Al Maktoum had had with Prince Siraj in a Paris restaurant. The premier had mentioned how he liked to relax in a hot bath and watch the sun set through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Naked men are particularly vulnerable, and it's easy to locate bathrooms on building plans. Add to that west-facing windows, and it was a simple matter for me to use Google Earth and locate my target. The time of day was a little less felicitous. I can't use my powers at twilight or dawn, and Bahir cannot be summoned after dark. But Siraj's recollection of the conversation suggested Al Maktoum liked to read in the tub prior to sunset. And I was delivering a threat, and they rarely take long.
The rippling water in the deep glass-tiled tub makes it hard to see clearly, but it appears the premier's balls have retreated up into his belly. He stares up at me, and terror clouds his dark eyes. I risk a glance at the brace of mirrors on one wall of the marble-lined bathroom. I am a nicely terrifying figure, dressed in a black dishdasha with a pistol holstered on my hip. I had dispensed with the headdress. The trailing edges can interfere with peripheral vision, and in the desert heat my scalp sweats and itches. So my mane of red-gold hair shines under the lights. I use the tip of the scimitar to scratch at my beard. The premier never takes his eyes off that blade. I really wish that genius in operations at Whitehall who conceived of using my male avatar as a Middle Eastern ace hadn't insisted on the sword as part of Bahir's persona. It's so absurdly Arabian Nights, but I'm stuck with it now. Bahir's blade has decapitated a lot of people — including the last Caliph.
"Prince Siraj sends greetings to his brother, and is saddened that his brother has chosen not to honor the price of oil set by the Caliph."
"It's just a few dollars." His voice holds a quaver and a whine. As I watch, goose bumps bloom across his shoulders and upper arms.
"One hundred dollars."
"The three hundred that the prince has set is too high. The European and American economies are staggering. How does it help us if we bankrupt them? If no one can buy our oil, where is the gain?"
"You should have made these arguments to the prince. Not sought to slip behind him like a thief. His highness is not a fool. He will ease prices, but not until the westerners have paid a mighty price."
"We were not part of that war in Egypt. Why should we exact vengeance? None of our soldiers were lost." He's becoming angry, beginning to wonder if he really stands in danger of his life. I glance toward the window. The sun is perilously close to the horizon.
"You say these words without shame, which shows you are a pawn of the West."
When a blade swings quickly it really does whistle, faintly, not like in the movies, but you have that split second of sound to let you know something awful is coming. The premier flinches, and flails. Water droplets form prisms as they cascade past the window and the rays of sunlight break apart. Blood fountains and glows in the dying light. I have taken off his right hand at the wrist. He is screaming, the sound echoing and reverberating off the hard surfaces. Outside the door there is the sound of pounding feet.
The threat has been delivered. It's past time I was going.
* * *
John Bruckner, the Highwayman, is emerging from Flint's office as I arrive to report about my little mission for Siraj. Out of courtesy to our chief Bruckner had removed his stained Andy Capp hat while in the office, but he's in the process of restoring it to its customary place and customary task — covering his nearly bald pate. I retreat to the wall because the Highwayman has the build of a beer keg and about as much dexterity.
An exuberant handshake later, he's offering me one of his foul black cigars while stuffing one into his own mouth. I wave him off and pull out a cigarette. The heat from his dented Zippo fans my face as I lean into the lighter. He transfers the fire to the tip of his cigar and sucks lustily on it until the tip of the stogie glows red. The rituals having been observed, we lean against opposite walls and study each other.
"Now, how is it that I'm a bloody lorry driver and you're a bloody magician?"
"I'm prettier than you are."
"Right you are, and you dress better," he says, hitching the waistband of his baggy corduroy pants up over his paunch.
"What have you been up to?"
A jerk of the thumb at Flint's door and he says, "Old Granite Face has me running arms from Lagos to the troops out in the bush." When the Highwayman gets his rig up to speed he can move from London to Melbourne or Shanghai without passing through any of the territory in between. "Effing roads are no better than goat tracks," he continues. "They've beat the bloody hell out of my suspension. Bloody natives."
It isn't just white man's burden rearing its head. Bruckner has seen strange and disturbing things while traveling his "short cuts," and he lives in fear of getting stranded in this strange, surreal no-man's-land.
"Show a little gratitude. Nigeria is the only thing that's keeping petrol in your truck."
"Yeah, well, why can't the niggers build a bloody first world road?"
I keep control of my features. Bruckner's somewhere in his sixties. Times have changed, but not the Highwayman. He's racist and sexist, and despises foreigners with a superiority unique only to a white Englishman. Straightening up with a grunt and another tug at his pants, he says, "I've got to push off. Join me and the lads for a pint?"
"Can't." I incline my head toward Flint's office.
"Well, next time."
He leaves, trailing smoke like the fumes from one of his lorries. I tap on the door. I can't actually hear Flint's invitation to enter, but I go on in. He's in his great stone chair, necessary because his sharp stone body would cut the upholstery of any normal chair to shreds.
I take my customary chair, stub out the butt, and take out another cigarette. The streetlights throw shadows across the bookcases. Only a small lamp on the desk is lit so Flint's eyes glow red in the gray stone face.
"God damn it! Must you be this effective on behalf of our enemies?"
Oh, damn, I had hoped to report about my actions in Dubai before Flint heard of it. No such luck. It seems I will not be basking in the sunshine of my chief's approval today.
"I take it the UAE has raised their prices."
"You know bloody well they have. You cut off the man's hand! He's a friend of the prime's."
"I must occasionally succeed, sir, or Siraj is going to wonder if his ace bodyguard/assassin is a complete cock-up."
"Can't you exert any influence over Siraj?"
"Bahir is viewed as a blunt instrument. I think Siraj would be just the tiniest bit suspicious if the Caliph's assassin suddenly started displaying political acumen."
Flint grunts, and gives a grudging nod. Gestures from my boss are disconcerting. It's like watching a statue come to life. He surprises me when he snaps his fingers together and produces a flame. I realize it's for the forgotten cigarette hanging between my fingers.
My, my, this is rare condescension. I guess I'm forgiven for my unauthorized bloodletting. Leaning forward, I light my cigarette. The harsh Turkish tobacco is like claws raking across the inside of my lungs, but the hit to the nicotine pleasure centers outweighs the discomfort and the theoretical lung cancer.
"Where are you off to now?"
"I've got a date." I preen and Flint makes a grinding sound like frozen gears trying to engage. "Believe me, you don't hate it as much as I. Babysitting is not my style."
* * *
I pause in the bathroom before testing my bladder control against the cold darkness of the Between. As the urine splashes against the porcelain my better nature wars with my real nature. What I really want is to call Lohengrin and cancel our date so I can go home to Dad and sleep in my old bedroom. If I go to New York I'll be eating an overly rich and heavy meal very late, and then indulging in vigorous and inept sex between sweaty sheets with the big German ace. What he lacks in finesse Lohengrin more than makes up for in stamina. I dread tomorrow. Even when I'm back in my normal body I will have an uncomfortable ache in my nether parts.
For an instant I find myself looking with loathing at my short and strangely shaped penis. Would my life have been better, easier, if Mum had let the surgeons cut it away, and make me ...
My thoughts slam up against the reality. No amount of surgery would have made me a "real girl." I tuck myself away and zip up, and then move to the sink to wash my hands. I'm still holding the rough paper towel when I allow the transformation to twist my flesh. Breasts soon press against the front of my shirt, and my pants fit uncomfortably over female hips. Long fingernails pierce the paper towel.
The image in the mirror isn't all I could hope. The heart-shaped face looks drawn and there's the hint of a shadow beneath the silver eyes. It's rather a shock to realize that fatigue of the real body translates to the avatars. Checking my watch I calculate the time difference between London and New York. If I stop at my digs in Manhattan and repair my face and change out of pants and boots I'll be late meeting Lohengrin for dinner. But he's got a rather traditional view of women. He'll think that's typical.
I picture the flat in the Village. As my body twists into that cold, strange place I decide on the little black dress. Keep the focus on the legs. ...
* * *
IT'S DARK. SUFFOCATING. I can hear the sounds of the helicopters overhead. I've got to do something. But I can hear screams now. Oh, God, the way they scream as the flesh is seared off their bodies. I need to bubble. I need to get away from the smell of burnt skin and muscle. Screaming. I need to make the screams go away.
I try to blast my way through the darkness. For a moment, I can't bubble. It's as if there's a wall between me and my power — then a stream of bubbles flows from my hands. Dust and rubble fill my mouth and rain off my body.
There's light. The light is so clean and pure. I bubble more until I chase the darkness away and blow the weight of the debris from me.
I look around. I'm not in Egypt. There are no helicopters. No falling bodies. No fiery flesh. Just the clean, antiseptic testing room at BICC. Biological Isolation and Containment Center — who thinks these names up, anyway?
God, I hate government facilities. Why on earth would anyone build anything in an abandoned salt mine? And in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, to boot ...
"The purpose of the test is to see how much force you can absorb, Miss Pond." The disembodied voice belonged to Dr. Pendergast. His voice was normally silky smooth, so it was hard to tell when he was really pissed. But there was a hint of anger and I knew I'd been bad.
Excerpted from Busted Flush by George R. R. Martin, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2008 George R. R. Martin and The Wild Cards Trust. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsAbout the Author,
Double Helix: To the hungry soul, every thing is sweet,
Double Helix: The sword shall never depart from thy house,
Just Cause: Part I,
Double Helix: An abomination of desolation,
Political Science 101,
Double Helix: Better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious woman,
Just Cause: Part II,
Double Helix: His enemies shall lick the dust,
The Tears of Nepthys,
Volunteers of America,
Double Helix: For nation shall rise against nation,
Dirge in a Major Key: Part I,
Double Helix: The words of a talebearer are as wounds,
Political Science 201,
Mortality's Strong Hand,
Double Helix: Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy,
The Tears of Nepthys,
Double Helix: Ye brutish among the people, when will ye be wise,
Political Science 301,
The Tears of Nepthys,
Political Science 401,
Double Helix: I will redeem them from death,
Won't Get Fooled Again,
Dirge in a Major Key: Part II,
Just Cause: Part III,
Double Helix: Go up into gilead, and take balm,
Dirge in a Major Key: Part III,
Double Helix: I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury,
A Hard Rain Is A'Going to Fall,
Double Helix: They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind,
Just Cause: Part IV,
Double Helix: My heart waketh,
The Writers and Creators of the Wild Card Consortium,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The pandemic disaster that changed the modern world occurred in 1946 leading to the establishment of the United Nation's Committee on Extraordinary Interventions. These wild cards have worked for years to solve global catastrophes and failures. Their current leader John Fortune is a former Ace operative so he knows how difficult field work is as there is never enough resourcing especially manpower to deal with all the calamities.------------ Recruiting and training a new group of Aces who think 1946 is ancient history, he sends the squad out into the world though his gut questions whether they are ready. He knows they are out of time so they must do their best with the hand dealt them. He sends rookies with vets as much as possible. The crews go to the powerful Caliphate Islamic Empire whose leaders are causing economic havoc everywhere they deal with genocide in Nigeria and its African neighbors a hurricane in New Orleans leaves them to battle the aftermath of zombies attacking the survivors and a nuclear explosion in Texas has led to a deadlier new arms race. This and much more including nasty lethal stuff inside the government is the normal world chaos for a new generation of Aces to contend with as best they can.--------------- The latest Aces interrelated anthology is held together by Melinda Snodgrass¿ delightful 'Double Helix' whose depressed hero makes all the superheroes seem real. Each entry is strong and enhances the overall mythos. Fans of the saga will relish the latest calamities and superheroes contending with them while newcomers will enjoy this entry that can be read by it self but also seek at least the previous compilation of the new generation of Wild Cards (see INSIDE STRAIGHT).----------------- Harriet Klausner
In a world where new Aces are recruited to appear on Suvivor meets American Idol type programs, the latest crop of reality TV graduates find themselves making some deadly serious choices. For Neil, Niobe, Michelle, and the rest, having a social conscience is much harder than it appears at first glance. Actions have consequences. Just how far are they willing to go to defend a line in the sand, blood, oil rights, and the future of children. Some things shouldn't be left up to the government - but can a handful of aces do any better?Not as bleak and scary a picture as was painted in previous installments, but if you're looking for optimistic worldviews, elsewhere would be a better choice.
OK, first the bad news. If you're new to the Wild Cards series, it's going to take a while to figure out what the heck is going on. Before two many pages in you'll figure out that a bunch of people in this world have special powers and/or debilitating disfigurements. That's pretty clear once people are described and the Aces start using their powers. There was also, apparently, some sort of ranking system in which people with the changes are ranked like cards in a deck. Who made that ranking system and why is never talked about much in this book. It seems a little too sophisticated to come from word of mouth, but who knows. In any case, once you have the card system sorted out you get at least three or four different competing nations and/or super groups. And on top of all that you have to try and keep straight a couple of dozen different characters who all go by at least two different names.On the bright side, the book does have a few engaging characters who develop particularly well in the second half. The story of Niobe and Drake's escape and attempts to find safety really have you feeling for them and their predicament. Noel also becomes likable, although the violent character change is a bit head wrenching. Most of the other characters are just part of the scenery for most of the ride. All in all, though, it's an enjoyable read and worth picking up, probably especially if you've read some of the rest of the series.
I know some of the other reviewers complained about it not being very new reader friendly. I agree with that. I was a bit lost in the beginning and thought I was supposed to read all the chapters written by the same author first. After a while that felt so disjointed that I tried reading it straight through but even then I was still lost until 100 pages or so as well. When I finally got into, I really enjoyed it and would want to read more about the characters. Surprisingly enough I really got into Creatrix and her storyline. I really want to know what happens to her more. It was difficult to follow along but I really liked the premise & would probably bookmooch more books in the series. :)
Badly in need of an introduction and general editing for consistency. It readsliek a novelisation of a cartoon, and that's not a good thing. I recieved this as an ER and probaly wouldn't have bought it in a bookshop because it's somewhere in the middle of a series, and doesn't make too much sense without the preceeding volumes to explain the universe. However the blurb on the back sets the scene sufficiently for it to be comprehensible. Humanity has become infected with a virus - the Wild Card Virus - which gives some of it's hosts unusual powers and deformities. These are referred to as duece, ace Black queen and joker. But at no time is it explained why these names are given and to what feaures they corrispond. Joker seems to be some form of physical manifestation while dueces are weak or underpowered and naturally enough aces give thier possessors superhuman abilites, usually of either transformation or control over physical objects in one form or another - but this is all left to the casual reader to deduce over the course of the novel. Likewise the political structure of the world is unexplained. As might be expected various governments have co-opted groups of aces into teams to try and alter world events in their favour. Busted flush kicks off with a world crisis sparked by african/gulf nations withholding their oil driving the price upto over $300 a barrel. Unsurprisingly this causes hardship in the US and a team from the UN's Committee is sent to re-establish oil flows, aided or abetted by the UK. Meanwhile US police forces are trying to investigate a nuclear expolsion in a the middle of Texas, and at the same time humanitarian aid is needed in hurricane struck Orleans. The vast number of people involved gets totally confusing and while the politics are deliberately confusing, you really need to be quite certain of which character is sent where and this just isn't indicated well enough. Generally the plot interleaves various characters on each team as seperate chapters as they progress their missions, and this works well enough although it is initially confusing. What really jars though is the voice. Each character / plot line is written by a different author and unfortunetly there's been no agreement in style. Most characters are third person and this contrasts well with the sudden discontinuity into the Noel/Lillith/Bakir character who is always in first person. But as she is the focus of the book with more chapters and connections than any other, this is perhaps allowable. The sudden transition to first person for a minor character late in the story line though is completely disconcerting. I think the idea of the multiple authors could have been very clever. Unfortunetly it also doesn't work because each author fails to distinguish themselves from their fellows. Only once or twice was a clear change of style noticable as we switched from one arena to another. The topics covered also seem a bit gauche. The oil crisis, Katrina, and international terrorism are all a bit to recent to be recieve the blithe dismisal and translation into superhero backgrounds that they recieve. I can imagine that anyone - a vast number - who have been personally touched by these events will not enjoy reliving them in such a manner. The vast number of characters and the requirement to have them all doing something mean that there is little in the way of character development either. Hardly anyone has the space to consider the implications of their powers or the effects they have on others. We get a few trite lines now and again. Lastly as might expected form a modern superheros trope we gets lots of graphic violence and sex - it would probably work as a cartoon, but seems a bit over the top in a novel. Overall it's quite readable and almost enjoyable once you've figurred out what's going on, but badly let down by it's flaws and attempts to be a cartoon. It's an interesting concept, but drawn rather thin by this offereing late in the series.
Busted Flush is the 19th Wild Card novel, and thus as you might imagine it is not very new reader friendly. Now I've read the entire series up to this point and I still felt lost for the first 100 pages or so, which is probably not a good sign for anyone else coming to this book.Part of this lack of clarity is due to the nature of the Wild Cards project. With a few exceptions each book is composed of a series of short stories edited together by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass. Sometimes this works very well, and other times not so much. This book leans towards the later. The book has nine writers, just as many lead protagonists, four A plots, and a ton of B plots (that largely lay unresolved by novel's end). And to make things worse, there's no real effort to reintroduce any of the characters from prior books. You have to get through half the book before you can match names to codenames and powers (this is a superhero story after all).On the other hand this is the rare book that ends better than it begins. The individual character arcs are pretty strong and they fit together into a whole quite well, and the last third of the book actually starts to recapture some of the feel of the series' earlier volumes. And then it stops with a fairly blatant lead in to the next book, which might actually be pretty promising in that it seems likely to resolve a plot that can be traced back to the very first Wild Cards novel. And that's enough to keep my interest, although just barely, but I can't really recommend this to anyone else.
It's been a long time since I'd read a Wild Cards book and never actually finished the original series, so I had to pick up the first one in the new series before wading into this one. Even with that bit of help, I was still a bit lost, keeping up with characters, plotlines and a history that I was rather unfamiliar with - I felt like I had made a major time jump from the original series (which I had). While the story was good, and the pacing was rapid, I could never really get a grip on all the information that was being thrown at me. I got the feeling that they were trying to recapture some of the depth and excitement of the original books, but do it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that fell flat on its face. The original books were good because characters were developed over time. I was far too overwhelmed with the sheer number of characters (and sometimes thier alter egos) to really get a feel for any of them.The book was okay, and as I said I picked up the first of the two so I'd have a clear idea, but I'm afraid to say that this isn't a must read.
A new Wild Cards volume, courtesy of LibraryThing early reviewer copies! Trouble is, I really should have reread a couple of volumes and didn¿t. Now there¿s a reality show for new aces, plus a UN-affiliated group of aces going around the world on ¿peacekeeping¿ missions, plus an oil crisis in the Mideast. The US government is experimenting on aces and the British government is using one in particular to destabilize other governments. So it¿s a lot of commentary on current events. Melinda Snodgrass has a bad ¿as you know, Bob¿ habit, and she and some of the others have some sort of weird hate-on for Hillary Clinton (when your AU is that she's a bitter, unmarried, power-hungry bureaucrat who hasn't risen as far as she wants, I'm thinking you have Issues with her). But I ended up mostly entertained.
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers group ages ago. I'm not a huge superhero fan, but I enjoyed the book. The lack (more or less) of secret identities plus the way the aces worked with various government organizations made it seem more realistic to me. It's a mosaic novel, with nine authors writing chapters from the point of view of various characters. Several other reviewers said they found it hard to follow (it's also the 19th book in the Wild Cards series); I had no trouble keeping all the characters straight even though I haven't ready any of the previous books.The good and the bad thing about such a structure is that you don't stay with any given author/character for long. That's good because I got bogged down in the second "chapter," which is the first of three by Caroline Spector, but once I got through it the book didn't go back to that character for quite a while. It's bad because I could have read a whole novel centered on the character Melinda Snodgrass was writing (Noel). (I'm sure, like in Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, other readers have completely opposite preferences from me.) Other intriguing storylines belong to Walton Simons and Ian Tregillis (Niobe and Drake) and Victor Milan (Tom and Dolores). The only major problem was towards the end, when there were some too-abrupt character transformations and plot resolutions. It felt a bit like the authors had been writing happily along and suddenly realized they had almost reached their maximum wordcount.
I didn't even finish the book which is very rare for me. The plot was not there, therefore it was hard to follow where the story was going. I gave up about a fourth of the way through.
I picked up Busted Flush with some trepidation. I loved the original Wild Cards novels, and I wasn't any too sure about a new generation of younger Aces. However, the reality show format helped drawn me in, and before I knew it, I was lost just as deep as I ever had been with one of the original stories. I won't pretend I didn't occasionally find myself missing Dr. Tachyon and other old "friends," but the new characters were just as engaging (and sometimes exasperating) as any of the old guard. And if younger characters can help draw in new readers, and bring this series back to prominence, I'm for it.