Wild Cards I


Having loved the latest Wild Cards triad (Inside Straight, Busted Flush, and Suicide Kings, I was curious to read about how it all began. And with Tor Books reissuing the original Wild Cards installments, I wasn't going to miss out on the opportunity.

Here's the blurb:

Back in print after a decade, expanded with new original material, this is the first volume of George R. R. Martin’s Wild cards shared-world series.

There is a secret history of the world—a history in which an alien virus struck the Earth in the aftermath of World War II, endowing a handful of survivors with extraordinary powers. Some were called Aces—those with superhuman mental and physical abilities. Others were termed Jokers—cursed with bizarre mental or physical disabilities. Some turned their talents to the service of humanity. Others used their powers for evil. Wild Cards is their story.

Originally published in 1987, Wild Cards I includes powerful tales by Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, Howard Waldrop, Lewis Shiner, and George R. R. Martin himself. And this new, expanded edition contains further original tales set at the beginning of the Wild Cards universe, by eminent new writers like Hugo–winner David Levine, noted screenwriter and novelist Michael Cassutt, and New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn
.

I remember being concerned about the mosaic novel format when I first read Inside Straight, fearing possible glitches in terms of continuity, consistency, chronology, style and tone. I was worried about how the individual stories would fit and further the plot of the overall story arc. But as was the case with the last triad, the various plotlines are woven together almost seamlessly, and the entire cast of writers involved in the production of this book maintain an even style and tone throughout.

This expanded edition also features new material that could potentially clash with the stories which were more than two decades old. And yet, had I not known that this was the case, I would never have been able to tell you which is which. In retrospect, the addition of new voices and stories provide even more depth to this collective work.

My favorite aspect of Wild Cards I is that it is also somewhat of a social commentary of about four decades of American history. It begins with post-WWII America, and we then follow the evolution of the Wild Cards virus and its repercussions on Aces and Jokers and the American and international psyches through the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the hippie movement, the Kennedy assassination, etc, all the way to the 80s.

It starts off with a bang as Jetboy tries to prevent a tragedy in the skies above New York City. And then we are taken for a ride throughout about forty years' worth of Americana experienced through the eyes of a disparate group of individuals touched by the virus.

As fun as it is intelligent, Wild Cards I will satisfy readers in myriad ways. Beyond being a political and social commentary, the opening chapter of the Wild Cards sequence is a rousing tale of unlikely heroes.

Newbies wanting to sample George R. R. Martin's labor of love for more than twenty years should look no further. Though the latest trilogy could be read as a stand-alone meant to attract new fans into the fold, new readers like me couldn't possibly get all the nuances. But with Wild Cards I, you find out how it all began with no ambiguity.

Give it a shot if you are looking for something different. You won't be disappointed.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

6 commentaires:

Skip said...

Argh. Don't talk about Wild Cards - if you keep talking about it GRRM will just do more of that than actually finishing Song of Ice and Fire. Just say no and stay away.

D-man said...

This one is sitting on my shelf at home. Must get around to reading it.

mike said...

Robert Jordan has published 2 books in the last 3 years and he's dead.

AC'63 said...

I have all the Wild Cards form origional printing, awesome series.
Well worth the read

Anonymous said...

Come on, most of this was written before all of us were even born. All the more reasons to buy it! Wild Cards is great, since it's already written.

Michael Offutt said...

I'm looking forward to GRRM HBO series that is launching in Spring 2011.