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.

Reviewing the Pages: Ten Minutes to Deadtime

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Terry’s alarm keeps waking him at 3.33 every morning. The problem is, he never sets it for that time. On one occasion he wakes up and something is very different. And that’s when his life begins to unthread…
 
Already struggling to balance work and home life, can he overcome the evil that has awakened?

Super short, and while certainly interesting, I felt like there wasn’t much here to tie into the Shadow Fabric Mythos. Sure, we get the Witchblade and what could only be alluded to as the Shadow Fabric, but that’s about it. Sure, the scares that we get here are good. But, in terms of the Mythos, there’s some things that are left to be desired. If you need a quick read, and are hankering for some scares (and a little bit of bewilderment), then this read is for you. And, as a bonus, you don’t need to have read The Shadow Fabric in order to understand anything in this story.

Well, here we are.  Another story in the Shadow Fabric mythos.  And my, do we…not get a lot.  At least, in terms of the Mythos.  Sure, the Witchblade makes an appearance, though for a much sinister appearance than it does in The Shadow Fabric.  But, I have many, MANY questions to ask this story, and there’s just not that many answers.  For example, why 3:33 am? Besides the whole “it’s the Witching Hour and 3:33 is that perfect witching time” (or something along those lines).  Why is the Witchblade suddenly sinister, or is it much darker forces that have the Witchblade at work here? Are the Forgotten the souls that have been stitched together into the Fabric? As I said, so many questions that don’t have much of an answer here.  And that’s ok.  There really doesn’t need to be too many questions answered.  Let’s just hope that a lot of these are connected in one way or another later on down the line, maybe in a unified short story collection, or a sequel novel?

Either way.  For those wanting a quick and easy read, then you should pick up this read.  It may leave you with a lot of questions, but trust me, this whole series is full of them.