Reviewing the Pages: Wild Cards I

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The first volume of George R. R. Martin’s WILD CARDS shared-world series, back in print after a decade—and expanded with new, original material.

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.

This is my second read-through of this story collection, and I have to say, my rating will not change. There are some stories in here that are masterful in their creation, and there are some others that are really lacking in their execution. The whole world is creative, and while the characters are actually flawed in one way or another, there is a lot that this world has to offer that we just don’t get. Yes, the epilogue and appendix serve as a way of getting some explanation as to the details of the Wild Card Virus (including a well-thought out speech (lecture) on how the Wild Card Virus is primarily PSI in nature). However, don’t shy away from this read. For all of it’s flaws, it sets up a world that has survived and thrived going on four decades now. I recommend those who like tales that are both dystopian and alternative-history in nature. You never know, you just might find this to be an Ace.

Well, as stated above, I’ve read this book before.  But, it had been pretty much two years since I last read this book, so it’s been an interesting journey to dive right back into the Wild Cards universe.  And I have to say, there were some short stories that I did enjoy, and some that I downright despised.  Why? Because some of the stories were too disjointed; way too all over the place to be coherent.  Granted, I like some of the characters within those stories, but their stories just didn’t do it for me.  There are also some character that I wasn’t huge fans of, like Fortunato and Puppetman.  In Puppetman’s case, it’s because his involvement in the story was confusing (even though that he’s pulling strings like a puppet master, and the end reveal was good, it just gave me that weird feeling).  For Fortunato, it’s just his powers in general.  There are some characters in here that I’m not sure are Aces or Deuces.

There are a lot of real-world events that come across in this story, and a lot of real-world themes like discrimination (putting Jokers in the shoes of those in the minority during the Civil Rights era).  There are also a lot of very heavy themes, with violence and various themes of a sexual nature (including rape), so a fair warning to those who are ready to dive into this collection, be careful.

One of the good things that I like about this read is that, while we have several different authors writing for this book, we get a lot of interconnected characters.  Multiple characters get brought through different stories, whether it’s the Sleeper and his ever-changing faces; The Great and Powerful Turtle in his armored body; or other characters like Fortunato and Gimli.

Don’t let my review give you second thoughts about picking this one up.  It may not be that great, but it’s the first in what appears to be a very large series.  There are going to be some hiccups along the way.  Dive right into this series folks, and enjoy questioning everything you once knew.

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Reading List #4

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of my reading list! Now, I skipped over one book in the process of going through my last read, and I’m ok with that.  As much as I do like sticking to lists and following a set plan from time to time, there are just some times where I’m like “alright, I can skip that one”.  And it’s not like the book isn’t on my reading list as it is, I just didn’t have the book to read it.  I’m sure it’ll show up on here again.  And speaking of, here is a very long list of books to come.  This should take me to that magical 50 books read this year.  Wish me luck!

Reminder: all covers come from Goodreads.

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Oooh, I Want to Read This #16

Hello everyone, and welcome back once again to another edition of “Oooh, I Want to Read This”! Now, a quick question before I dive into this week’s selection: do any of you schedule yourself time to read? Since the new year rolled over, and my work schedule has straightened out a little bit, I have started to get in the habit of reading for 45 minutes in the morning, usually starting at 8:45. It helps me not only work on getting through my TBR pile, but also gets me going on getting my day focused.  I was just curious if any of you did the same thing, but maybe for longer periods of time? Let me know!

Anyway, on to the books, and remember, covers and synopsis come from Goodreads.com.

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If the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork—the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time—warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with “The World of Ice and Fire”.

This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site Westeros.org—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.

Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers. It is a chronicle which stretches from the Dawn Age to the Age of Heroes; from the Coming of the First Men to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror; from Aegon’s establishment of the Iron Throne to Robert’s Rebellion and the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which has set into motion the “present-day” struggles of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, “The World of Ice and Fire” is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords.

First off, has anyone seen this book in person? The cover on this thing is GORGEOUS! I’m not one to gush over covers, but dang, this thing is a beauty.  Anyway, I love A Song of Ice and Fire series, and to have a book that covers the very extensive past of this monstrous series is a good thing.

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“Thou shalt kill.”

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

I was tipped off to this book by Beth, who said that I might be up my alley.  And after reading the synopsis, I have to say that yes, yes it is right up my alley.

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Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human…

But the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who-or what-is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

This was a very intriguing read when I first picked it up, and I really enjoyed getting to meet Agent Pendergast for the first time.  I really want to pick up more in this series, but first, I need to start at beginning, and take it one book at a time.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today folks.  Did you enjoy the selections for today? Are you a reading schedule reader? Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.

Oooh, I Want to Read This #9

Hello everyone, and welcome back once again to another edition of “Oooh, I Want to Read This”! Are you ready for some more books? I certainly am! Even though that I don’t read often, I still love reading.  And, I love the feel of the paper between my fingers. How about you guys? Do you like holding an actual book in your hands, or are you a fan of the digital era? Anyway, onto the books!

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I’ve had this series for quite a while now, and I’ve read the first two, but never got around to picking up the third one.  But that ends soon folks! Well, after I re-read the series.  After all, I’m gonna need a refresher.  And I love the interesting premise of the series, and I really want to know how it ends!

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So, it’s no secret that I pre-planned the entire month of December well ahead of time.  So, as I got to the end of my list, which have been prepped weeks in advance, I find myself asking this question: How did I stumble upon this book? Then, I read the synopsis.  And realize that it doesn’t matter how I found it, but that I’m excited to read it.  It’s intriguing, and feels right up my alley.

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Is anyone else feeling rather impatient about the wait for The Winds of Winter? I could go back and re-read through all of these books again, taking just as much time I did the first time I read through them, all in order to be caught up for Winter.  That, or I could finish the five books, and STILL be ahead of Mr. Martin.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you folks today.  Are you ready to start hunkering down for the long winter’s reading sessions? I sure am.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.

Oooh, I Want to Read This #6

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of “Oooh, I Want to Read This”.  Have I tickled your fancy yet? I hope that I’ve at least given you one recommendation for a future read.  I know that I’m ready for some great reads on my “to-read” list.  Speaking of, time to give you my weekly choices! Here we go!

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Looking at the list of authors that have contributed to this short story anthology, and there are some very heavy hitters here.  Including those on the cover seen above, we’ve got other authors like Terry Pratchett contributing a story set in Discworld, George R.R. Martin’s “The Hedge Knight” and an entry in Raymond E. Feist’s The Riftwar Saga.  Holy heavy hitters in the genre of fantasy.

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Well, this is one of the quintessential series that science fiction fans have to read. Or at least, that’s what I think anyway.  I haven’t heard very many bad things about this book, and after all, this was the winner of the  “Best All-Time Series” Hugo Award, which even Asimov thought he wasn’t going to win, expecting it to go to “The Lord of the Rings”.  So, for this to beat out another outstanding series, I’m ready to dive right on into this series.

Short and sweet today.  Find something you want to read? Got any suggestions for any future reads? They just may end up here at a future date.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.