Wild Cards I: An Intricate and Amazing Alternate Timeline Featuring People With Powers
Wild Cards I by George RR Martin and Friends
George R.R. Martin is a name that has absolutely exploded over the last few years and has been on everyone’s radar because of Game of Thrones. But Game of Thrones, the television show, revealed a reflection of a written world and writing style I care little about. I like to read for escapism, not to be depressed. But recently various outlets have been hailing him as this generations J.R.R. Tolkien and that’s hard to believe because there are some very good authors out there in the genre who do not rely on such dark material of rape, incest, and shocking deaths. But to be fair, I have not read his work. But the other day I discovered Ido have one of his books in my kindle library (I must have bought it on a big sale ages ago and just forgot about it.), well technically it’s not him only. It’s by him and series of other authors who created a book around his concept. This book is called Wild Cards I and it is written by George R.R. Martin and friends.
So what is it about? It begins in the 1940’s just after World War II. An alien space ship lands and a poorly dressed humanoid alien steps out to warn that his race is in a civil war and another alien I planning to experiment by releasing a gene altering virus on Earth. Because human DNA is so similar, they want to find out what genomes would become super human and what would become mutations. The aliens then want to use this data to build super soldiers on their home world. This alien known as Tachyon cannot find the ship, or pilot in a desperate attempt to stop this massacre.
But a German made scientist does find it and intends to drop it on Manhatten. But war hero flyboy known to the public as Jet Boy heads out with other fighter pilots to step him. It’s an exciting battle and despite all the heroic efforts, he ultimately fails. The virus bomb drops and infects a region of Manhattan.
From there on out, the book is a collection of short stories focusing on individuals infected and these tales stretch from the 1940’s to the 1980’s building this dynamic alternate time line for the United States. Each person aeffected is, as the story portrays it, is a wildcard. They are either a joker, an monster or mutation, or an Ace, basically someone who is fine with super human powers.
The good? This is an intriguing experiment with so many different kinds of stories. One is about a team of Aces who work for military. Another is about a man with who hunts down an Ace and Joker serial killer. There’s a whole story about Joker’s marching for civil rights. Another is about a woman who can absorbed knowledge but has been also absorbing personalities and is struggling from a split personality like mental illness. Then there’s a superhero story. There are just all kinds of flavors genres and tones. The one that stand outs to me were Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan and Croyd. And oh man, Croyd is a heartbreaking tale. I was so glad it ended when it did, because if it went any further, it might have made me cry.
Thee bad? This is hard to critique this book because each story is by a different author. But I think it is safe to say all the stories were okay or just not good. The worst were the stories I'm about to mention. The march for Joker rights was a strange reenactment of Selma. There was a story about a mobster who gets his powers when he has sex, which is just an excuse for sex scenes because nothing else happens. Another is about a hippi protest for joker rights under the command of this snake like protest leader. And the lead character is on LSD and its very hard to tell what is going on. So the quality of the stories is uneven.
Overall this is great premise, and well put together project of short stories. With so many authors it amazing to see a cohesive story line where main character of one story can weave in and out of other stories that happen years later. And world building is amazing. And yes, I think most of the stories in my opinion are just okay or forgettable, when put togther the sum of all the parts does paint a beatiful picture of a entertaining timeline. This is far not perfect, but still it is most definitely worth the read. So go check it out.
3 out of Four Smoothies
Overall Rating: An Intricate and Amazing Alternate Timeline Featuring People With Powers.