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.

Top 10 Roundup #4

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another edition of the Top 10 Roundup! Now, I know that some of these topics have been hit or miss so far, but that’s because I haven’t really thought of what I wanted to list.  And that’s ok.  Things like this need time to grow in order to prosper, right? I thought so.  So, I thought that this week’s Top 10 should be fun.  It should be…whimsical.  It should be…

Ok…so I shouldn’t be trying to resurrect Wild Bill Hickock from his grave in Deadwood with a bunch of Funko Pop! figures and the Dead Man’s Hand. That’s just asking for trouble, isn’t it? But, that got me to thinking.  I love these Funko figurines! So, I’m going to list ten of these little guys that I want to join my very macabre collection. Remember, there is no set order for these things.

Funko POP Anime: Dragonball Z - Goku & Nimbus Action Figure

Starting out is someone who isn’t very macabre at all, and that’s Goku! I love that they chose a Goku form with his tail and Nimbus cloud!

Funko Duck Dodgers Pop Animation Vinyl Figure

DUCK DODGERS FROM THE 24TH AND A HALF CENTUUUURY! He looks so angry.  Or sassy.  Or both.  Either way, he’s not gonna take any grief from you…until you give it to him.  After all, it is Daffy.  And he is that kind of comedic foil.  I think he’d make a great addition to my little army.

Funko POP Games: Fallout - #49: Power Armor

“I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to start, the flame in your heart”.  I love this series! So, when I was looking at figurines, I saw this one, and I was like…I’ve got to have him.  If I wasn’t so broke.  Anyway, I’d love to have this guy in my collection, if only to have him do some stare-downs with the likes of Freddy, Pennywise…

Funko POP Hellraiser III: Pinhead

…and this guy! Now, I think that Pinhead is an interesting character.  Granted, I’ve only seen the first Hellraiser movie (and read The Hellbound Heart), but what I’ve seen of him is certainly interesting.  I enjoy that he has the Lemarchand (or Lament) Configuration in his hand.

Funko POP Movies: Harry Potter Action Figure - Dobby

Isn’t he cute?! And he’s already been freed, given the sock in his hand! Just don’t go ticking Dobby off, or he’ll magic you far, far away.  Or just drop a cake on your head.

Funko POP TV: Power Rangers - Black Ranger Action Figure

Now, I had seen that they had originally released Jason and Kimberly, but didn’t think much of it because red and pink are two of the more well known, and more marketable colors.  Think about it for a second.  If you’ve ever looked at Power Rangers Halloween costumes after Mighty Morphin had ended, which one would most likely see in stores? The red ranger, followed closely behind by all the other male colors (sorry ladies). But, recently, Beth started sharing links to various Funko figurines with me (which is kinda where this idea came from, thanks Beth!), and she showed me either him and Billy.  Now, while I more identify with Billy (the nerd), I really liked Zack.  So, I think it’d be cool if I got both Billy and Zack in my collection.

Funko Beetlejuice Pop Movies

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! BEETLEJUICE! Is that how that works? I summon him…or at least his figurine is summoned to my house? No. Bummer.

Funko Batman The Animated Series Joker Pop Heroes Figure

The Clown Price of Crime! I wonder if he’s willing to join Pennywise and become a dominant tag team of pranks and violence.  On the other hand, someone will eventually turn on the other…because one is a deranged madman, and the other one is an alien creature masquerading as a clown.

Funko POP Disney: Jack Skellington Vinyl Figure

“What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere! What’s this? There’s white things in the air!” I love “The Nightmare Before Christmas”! I love it enough that I have soundtrack, and will sing along to pretty much all of Jack’s parts over the course of the movie, which would annoy Beth to no end.  I couldn’t tell you why I enjoy the Pumpkin King so much…I just do.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Great Old One, Cthulhu.  While I want to bring him into my home, I just hope he leaves my dreams alone.  I don’t need to be driven mad.  But, I rather enjoy the entire Cthulhu mythos (see the multiple collections of Lovecraft’s stories and Lovecraft-inspired stories in my modest library.  So, he’s only a natural addition to my collection.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week.  Hopefully you’ve found some guys to add to your collections of your own.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.