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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
valerie sherrard
Surprised me how quick this book reads. The jumps between lives of aces and jokers just kept me interested. It never got too long for a single character, but continuous mentioning kept them close at heart.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
As with most anthologies, some of the chapters were brilliant, and others less so. Given the story line, it's difficult to follow some of the writing styles. All in all, well worth the few bucks they charge.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anne m
This could have been an absolutely phenomenal series, but unfortunately a few of the authors chose to take this great concept and use it as a platform to pedal their softcore-porn stories. Still, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and overall the concept and stories were phenomenal. It is a pity that a few authors who were more interested in writing sex than sci-fi turned a really great read into a merely good one.
The Ice Dragon :: Winter's King (The Wings of War Book 3) :: The Graphic Novel (A Game of Thrones) - The Sworn Sword :: Warriors (Lord John Grey) :: Rogues
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jihad reda
As a huge George R. R. Martin fan, I really wanted to like this story. Unfortunately, I just couldn't stay interested. The story is long and dragged out, and I found it difficult to emotionally connect with the characters - who are basically a bunch of people affected by an alien virus that either gives them "special powers" (invisibility, super strength, etc) which are used to do good or bad things.... and others who are turned into freak shows (women with cat ears and tails, men with alligator scales, etc). Really boring. Couldn't even make it half way through the book. Very disappointing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lindsay campbell
I was very excited that this came back into print, because I was befuddled at all of the choices for getting into the Wild Cards universe.

This reads like classic pulp sci-fi, which is not a bad thing at all.

This is an anthology written by other authors in a world created by George R.R. Martin. It's like the Man-Kzin Wars series set in Larry Niven's Known Space universe in that respect. Unsure so far where George RR Martin's actual writing comes in, he's just listed as the editor. Are they banking on the popularity of his Song of Ice and Fire series in reprinting this? Possibly.

In terms of product quality, I wouldn't put this down as a premium product. The paper isn't glossy at all and the cover is very thin and flexible - if you keep it in the bathroom it will absorb a ton of ambient humidity just from one hot shower. In short, this is a reader edition, not something you're going to be bequeathing to your kids.

In terms of writing quality, it seems pretty consistently decent across the board. You get a background on the big players of the WildCards universe - the causes and the effects.

The short version of the story is post WWII an alien virus is released over New York City. It is lethal to 90% of the population, devastating to 9%, and a gift to the remaining 1%. The 9% - the Jokers - are relegated to ghettos and shunned for their deformities and offputting powers. The 1% - the Aces - have powers straight out of a comic book. How does the story evolve over time? I'm not sure yet, but from what I've read, subsequent volumes of the series definitely take the story forward chronologically. This makes it into a decent longform series if the first volume excites you.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Friends of mine asked me to read this. I couldn't even give it an 'ok' rating. It is one of the most frustrating books I have read in a long time. Its a continuous stream of new characters, little to no plot and a flimsy story arc, at best. At times you have no idea what is going on and have to back up and re-read. Sometimes chapters start out in a new scene with new characters and don't even bother to give them names until will into the chapter. You then have to back up and re-read so the beginning makes sense now. This happens over and over. No one story is ever completely told, not even the one character that is woven into a number of the stories. Very disappointing read for me.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
gary allen
The Good:
Well written. A consistent world, and a consistent feel, even though the vignettes are by different people. Imaginative. Makes you wonder what life could be like if you drew an ace. Makes you glad if you haven't drawn a joker.

The Bad:
It reminds me of a series of Alfred Hitchcock or Rod Serling stories. That in itself isn't bad. But as the collection appears to be something of an intro into the world. All the characters are central characters, and because they all stand out, none of them do. This is most of the reason for only two stars. I couldn't invest into any one character, because all the stories are about different people. In a way, it reminded me of a soap opera. Too many connections to invest in.

The Nice:
I found myself identifying with Jet Boy most, which I guess is reasonable, because he was simply talented, not genetically altered.

Anyway, I'll put V II on my list, but it won't be on my urgent list, if you know what I mean.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I tried. I made it through 35% of this book before I quit. I cannot understand how a book about super powers could be this boring. It's like someone drained all the exciting bits of out, leaving a dry alternate history book behind. How can you possibly make a book about super mutants so damn dull?
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I have been aware of the Wild Cards stories for a long time as a reader of Super-Hero comic books well into my 20's. I am also a fan of Martin's Game of Throne's books. I was very disappointed with Wild Cards. Part of my disappointment was the style the story was told, jumping from character to character but not really developing any of the characters. I was hoping for much more.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
avanish dubey
This is a good "superhero" book, but it is too dark for my taste in several of the stories. I personally prefer a lighter tone, like Soon I Will be Invincible (Vintage). But I have still enjoyed most of it. Note, several stories have a strong sexual component so it's definitely not for kids.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Just read the first volume but I think he has something here. Love the concept and how it is interwoven into our global cultural fabric. Would make a great TV series.. Contributing authors keep the voice pretty consistent.. If you have some time, pick this up and give it a try..

Not your granpappy's superhero comics!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Very rarely if ever have I reread a book but Wild Cards 1 is one of those rare books. Well, full disclosure here, I actually listened to it as an audiobook this time. Wild Cards 1 is a must read classic super hero story from 1987 that still is great. The book consists of a collection of short stories about super powered Aces and mutated Jokers that were transformed by an alien virus.

Several of the stories were great such as those about Dr. Tachyon, the alien that couldn't prevent the release of the virus but is dedicated to helping those affected by it. Some of the stories are pretty graphic since most effected people don't get useful powers and instead are mutated. Some on the mutated women become prostitutes in order to survive.

If you like super hero stories like I do or are looking for a good collection of scifi short stories I highly recommend you read Wild Cards 1. I give it five out of five stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
An alien species decides to use Earth to test a new bioweapon. An airborne criminal seizes the weapon and tries to use it to blackmail the city of New York. A former WWII flying ace tries to stop him. And, on 15 September 1946, the world is forever changed when the wild card virus is unleashed in the skies over Manhattan.

Ninety percent of those infected by the virus die instantly. A further nine percent develop crippling deformities or abnormalities, becoming known as 'jokers'. And one in a hundred of those infected develops a wondrous superpower. They become the 'aces'. As an alternative history of the 20th Century unfolds, the American government first tries to use the aces for their own ends and then, in a paranoid frenzy, turns against them, before they finally win some recognition for themselves. But for the jokers, forced to live in a ghetto in Manhattan, their road to recognition and respect will be much harder.

Wild Cards is the first book in the series of the same name, which of this time of writing spans twenty-one volumes with two more planned. This isn't a series of novels, but collections of stories written by many different authors. George R.R. Martin (of A Song of Ice and Fire fame) and Melinda Snodgrass provide editorial control, ensuring that each volume has its own narrative drive and point beyond just collecting random short stories together. The stories are set in their own milieu, with authors sharing ideas, using each other's characters and building up a consistent, coherent shared world.

The first Wild Cards book opens with a bang, with Howard Waldrop giving us the origin story for the entire setting in 'Thirty Minutes Over Broadway'. This is a terrific slice of fiction, with Waldrop fusing pulp energy with his own idiosyncratic style to give us something weird, resolutely entertaining and rather tragic in its own right. Roger Zelazny - yes, that one, the author of the Amber series and Lord of Light - then provides the origin story for Croyd Crenson, the Sleeper, one of the original aces whose powers shift every time he goes to sleep. Crenson's periods of hibernation provide a handy way of fast-forwarding through the immediate aftermath of the crisis, showing how New York, the USA and the world adapt to the arrival of the virus. Walter Jon Williams and Melinda Snodgrass then show us two sides of the same tale through 'Witness' and 'Degradation Rites', the story of the Four Aces and their betrayal by the American government. These opening four stories provide a quadruple-whammy of setting up this alternate history and doing so whilst telling stories that are well-written (superbly so in both Waldrop and Zelazny's cases, though the others are not far behind), finely characterised and as gut-wrenchingly unpredictable as anything in the editor's fantasy stories.

Later stories remain highly readable, though perhaps not quite on a par with this opening salvo. Martin's own 'Shell Games' is, perhaps unexpectedly, the most uplifting story in the book, the story of the bullied boy who becomes a superhero. Michael Cassut's 'Captain Cathode and the Secret Ace' and David Levine's 'Powers', two new additions for the 2010 edition of the book, are both decent, filling in gaps in the history. Lewis Shiner's 'Long Dark Night of Fortunato' introduces one of the setting's less salubrious characters and makes for effective, if uneasy, reading. Victor Milan's 'Transfigurations' shows how the anti-Vietnam rallies of the late 1960s and early 1970s are changed by the presence of the wild card virus (and gives us an ace-on-ace rumble that is particularly impressive). 'Down Deep' by Edward Bryant and Leanne Harper is probably the weirdest story in the collection (which in this collection is saying something), a moody trawl through the underbelly of New York (figurative and literal). It's probably a little bit too weird, with an ending that is risks being unintentionally comical, but is still reasonably effective.

Stephen Leigh's 'Strings' and Carrie Vaughn's 'Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan' (the latter being another new addition in this edition) return to the quality of the opening quartet. The former depicts the jokers' battle for civil rights, resulting in riots and chaos in Jokertown and New York that a shadowy figure is manipulating for his own ends. 'Ghost Girl' is a straight-up adventure with the titular character teaming up with Croyd Crenson to find her missing friend. 'Ghost Girl' could be a novel in its own right, with the battling criminal gangs and dodgy drug-taking rock bands providing a canvas that's almost too big for the story, but Vaughn's method of keeping the story under control and resolving it is most effective. Finally, John J. Miller's 'Comes a Hunter', in which a 'nat' sets out to avenge the death of his friend by going up against some criminal aces, is a superbly-written thriller which examines how 'normal' people can stand up against aces and jokers.

The book as a whole is excellent, with the stories entwining around real history and changing it in a way that is mostly organic and convincing. There are a few issues with plausibility here - most notably the way no-one seems particularly bothered about the proven existence of an alien race that has just tried to poison the entire planet - but for the most part the writers use the premise to tell stories about the changed history of the USA (from McCarthyism to civil rights to Vietnam) in an intelligent, passionate manner.

Wild Cards (*****) introduces the world, setting and many of its memorable characters through a series of well-written, smart stories. There isn't a weak card in the deck, and the best stories (those by Waldrop, Williams, Snodgrass and especially Zelazny) are up there with the best of their original work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I had heard some good things about the Wild card series but have not had the chance to check them out before now. The Wild Cards is a shared universe where various writers set stories in a universe where a alien virus in the 50's is brought to earth known as the Wild Card Virus because of its unpredicatable effects, where some become Aces superpowered humans, others jokers Humans deformed in strange ways by the virus ( i think the possiblity is laid for some to be both joker and ace but if so its not explored much in this the first volume), and those that draw the Black Queen which means, usually horrible,death.Its one of the longest running shared universes and with the rise of GRRM's profile who has long stood as an editor and contributor to the series as well as one of its most vocal supporters has given the chance for new volumes and ,more importantly for new readers, reprints.

i have read shared universe stories before everything from star wars to forgotten realms, several things stood out in this collection first the quality when you have Roger Zelany among others Contributing its hard to go wrong also the mosiac style of story telling multiple story lines and short stories by different writers that neverthless come together seamlessly to tell one fantastic, and coherent, narrative and this is a Alternative history that takes full advantage of what that offers covering from sixties counter culture and the civil rights movement to McCarthisym.

In short i enjoyed this story even more then i expected and will be buying Aces High and other installments as soon as i can and look forward to spending more time with these all too falliable superhumans.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
stacy castiglione
I found this book by completely accident. By looking up books about superheroes. This one was at the bottom the list. Reviewed fairly okay but not great. I decided to take a chance just for the name of George RR Martin and I have to say... Holy crap I am glad I did.

I still have a hundred pages left but I have read enough to know that I will be buying the next novel as soon as I am finished. I just think people should know what they are getting into before they read this novel. It's not a standard book. Its written by various authors and are more a collection of short stories. A few stories tie together and tie up loose ends left in another one but for the most part there self contained only mentioning other characters and events. This is by no means a bad thing. This book goes from the 40's to the 70's of this alternate history so it works. Seeing how each character reacts to what happend in a past story is genius. Its like them telling you what happend in history. You read it so you know there not getting all the facts right but that's history. The only reason I am giving these four stars is because what story was boring and had nothing to do with anything that was going on. A story i learned was added to this edition and it shows. Its a mess.

I strongly recommend this book a great start. I know since its a book of short stories that there will at least be 1 book in the 23 book series so far that I don't like or stories here and there. Yet I am still all in and am looking forward to those crappy chapters or books as much as the good ones.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dave d aguanno
Wild Cards I by George R. R. Martin

This book is edited by Martin, although he has one story in it. This is the book to read prior to reading any of the other Wild Card books. This details how and what made the Wild Cards.

An alien virus genetically alters a percentage of Earth's population. The results are grotesque disfigurement for some and enormously enhanced abilities for others. The people with enhanced telekinesis, invisibility and other enhanced abilities while maintaining a reasonably normal body are called Aces. The deformed, the grotesque, the severely impaired are call Jokers.

This book is a compilation of short stories detailing who released and created the virus and the initial results of that release.

As in all collections of short stories, there will be some you love and others you wonder how did they get in with such exalted company.

web site: [...]
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Overall not bad but a few of the stories were really dry and drawn out. Witness and Degradation Rites were awful stories. I dont care about Aces being hunted down as commie sympathizers and i dont care about an alien love story. I thought the Wild Cards were suppose to be a nod to old 50s pulp stories and comics. Not this boohoo drivel. Some of stories are great amd I was sad to have them end but this book felt like playing russian roulette at parts. How bad or good will the next story be?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
anita lauricella
The best thing about this book is its premise: An alien, genetically engineered virus, released in the 1940s, is turning people into freaks, or gives them superpowers, or a little of both. What follows is an alternate history of the McCarthy era, the Cold War, the hippies, and more.

Except the writers aren't so much writing an alternate history as simply inserting their own mutated characters into regular history. Nothing really changes on account of the wild cards virus, nothing significant anyway.

A couple of characters are interesting, in particular The Envoy and Dr Tachyon. The Envoy, an intelligent and rather cynical jewish man whose power is super-persuasiveness, goes underground after being the victim of the McCarthy era witchhunts. Years later, Joseph McCarthy himself is convinced The Envoy caused his eventual downfall. Did he? He might well have, and we're never told (in this book at least). We never get to know The Envoy, and we can only hope he returns in later novels.

A minor annoyance: Everyone affected by the virus are given superhero names. Not by the in-universe public, by the authors. Whether it makes any sense or not. Case in point: a bag lady called Bagabond. Again, no character in the book actually calls her that, just the author. Another example is Hardhat, who didn't even know he had powers. At the moment they emerge, he's suddenly called Hardhat. Not by any of the characters, of course, not even himself. In what sense are these their names? Are they secret names that not even they know? It comes off as gimmicky and contrived.

But still: a great and largely unexplored potential, which we can hope is better put to use in later novels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
april middleton
This is a book of short stories set in one universe but written by different people. It's cool 'cause the basic idea is that the "wild card virus" got introduced to humanity from some aliens and it affected each person a different way. A lot of them died, a lot of them were transformed, and mostly the transformations were very bad--the ones who lived but were disfigured were "Jokers," and the select few who got some kind of beneficial transformation were called "Aces." This book had stories about both kinds of people, as well as about Dr. Tachyon, one of the aliens who helped develop the virus (but was against introducing it to humanity--obviously, he lost). I for the most part enjoyed the variation and the imaginativeness of both the universe and the stories themselves. I would read more "wild card" stories.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
guruprasad venkatesh
Anthology of science fiction stories, set in an alternate timeline beginning immediately after WWII. The Earth is infected by a bioengineered "Wild Card" virus designed to alter human DNA. Approximately ninety percent of infected persons do not survive the transformation. The remaining ten percent gain some extraordinary powers, some minor, some remarkable. However, of that group, ninety percent are disfigured ("Jokers"). The rest develop incredible powers ranging from telekinesis to superhuman strength and durability to the ability to alter time. This group - the "Aces" - is indistinguishable from ordinary humans ("nats") except when using their powers.

The stories show how the virus is released and how the people affected by it and American society react in the postwar era. The stories move through the decades rather like Forrest Gump, showing how the virus and reactions to it shape American culture.

The premise of the stories is preposterous - an entirely alien civilization that is genetically identical to humans designs and unleashes the virus on humanity. But the stories themselves are well-written, engaging, and thought-provoking: everything good sci-fi should be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth clemens
I have read this many times. Brilliant stuff. A duel between alien ships, an experiment gone wrong, at least from our point of view. Born out of a superhero gaming group, Wild Cards is a shared world anthology series, in the main.

An alien experimental virus is released on Earth after Jetboy, a famous fighter pilot hero fails to stop it. This is the first story in this anthology "Thirty Minutes Over Broadyway".

For those affected by the virus, 90 are killed, 9 are deformed in some mannter, and 1 is given some sort of superhuman or enhanced ability.

This causes chaos and carnage, and changes history forever.

Various elements of American history do still happen, and the HUAC terror still happens, as one story involving Dr Tachyon, an alien telepath who comes to Earth to try and help. This leads to the tragedy of Golden Boy and the Four Aces see "Witness" by Walter Jon Williams.

The Turtle, Croyd Crenson, Yeoman, Fortunato, Captain Trips and Puppetman all appear here.

It will take some of them working together to defeat a menace.

If you have any sort of interest in the subject, this book is a must read.

Wild Cards 01 : 01 Prologue - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 02 Thirty Minutes Over Broadway! - Howard Waldrop
Wild Cards 01 : 03 The Sleeper - Roger Zelazny
Wild Cards 01 : 04 Witness - Walter Jon Williams
Wild Cards 01 : 05 Degradation Rites - Melinda M. Snodgrass
Wild Cards 01 : 06 Interlude One - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 07 Shell Games - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 08 Interlude Two - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 09 The Long Dark Night of Fortunato - Lewis Shiner
Wild Cards 01 : 10 Transfigurations - Victor Milán
Wild Cards 01 : 11 Interlude Three - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 12 Down Deep - Edward Bryant and Leanne C. Harper
Wild Cards 01 : 13 Interlude Four - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 14 Strings - Stephen Leigh
Wild Cards 01 : 15 Interlude Five - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 01 : 16 Comes a Hunter - John J. Miller
Wild Cards 01 : 17 Epilogue: Third Generation - Lewis Shiner
Wild Cards 01 : 18 Appendix - George R. R. Martin

Tachyon arrival denial.

3.5 out of 5

Jetboy: No Jolson, no Joy.

5 out of 5

Croyd Crenson waken, wedding shaken.

4.5 out of 5

Jack Braun, Four Aces Golden Judas Boy.

5 out of 5

Brain Trust no more.

4.5 out of 5

McCarthy's Wild Card Act disintegration.

3.5 out of 5

Turtle power, Tachyon cower. Team-up!

5 out of 5

Jokertown Clinic.

3.5 out of 5

Power discovered, evil uncovered.

5 out of 5

Lizard King glad Mark Meadows is Radical.

5 out of 5

Hiram's food is Aces High.

3.5 out of 5

Bag lady and cat lady discovers that there really are werealligators in the sewers, and the odd mafioso.

5 out of 5

Jokertown activist politics.

3.5 out of 5

Puppetman, killer manipulator.

4.5 out of 5

Aces! quotes.

3.5 out of 5

Yeoman roamin'.

5 out of 5

Kid Dinosaur.

4 out of 5

Wild Card science.

5 out of 5
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa konietzko
Wild Cards is where it all began.

The series relates an alternate history of the earth after World War II. In 1946 an alien virus that rewrites human DNA is accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It kills 90 % of those who come into contact with it (referred to as 'drawing the Black Queen'). However, 9 % mutate into deformed creatures (known as 'Jokers') and 1 % gain superpowers (known as 'Aces'). For example there is Peregrine - a woman who looks like an angel and can fly, and the Golden Boy who is the strongest man in the world. There are also mixtures such as the Sleeper -who changes every time he sleeps, forcing him to be afraid to rest, resulting in an amphetamine addiction. Dr. Tachyon, from the planet that infected us, is here trying to reverse the effects of the virus.
Wild cards are a shared world, with many authors contributing to the texts of 16 books. It is hard to propertly review these books are they are more like a television series. That being said, there is a litany of great stories in these books. The characters are seldom black and white, many times giving in to their personal greed or demons. Any fan of science fiction serials will love these books - they are out of this world!

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I wrote this when I only read the First book of the series, almost two and a half years ago. I was somewhat overly optimistic, but generally this still stands. Snodgras never wrote anything worthwhile for the Wild Cards again.
The only Wild Card book I've read so far, this is very promising.
I think I'll start with the bad things first. Too many of the stories don't work. Some, like Witness, are bad, while many (maybe most) seem to be a beginning, setting the stage without solving anything. ( that is especially true of stories like ' The long night of Fortunato')
Also, there are to many characters, and the story isn't focused enough. It covers thirty years, but most of the time its not very vivid. The early stories, at least, all feature Tchyon as a main character, but then he disappears, and that's a shame.
Now for the good part.
First, the intervals are great. Especially the one summing up the red scare, and the one with the quotes.
Also the one with about the science behind the wild Card virus.
Then we have the premise, which is great. The world, and many of the characters, seem fascinating. I love the wild card virus.
Also, three of the stories are simply exellent. Those are, Sleeper, by Roger Zealany, Strings, by Stephan Leigh, and especially, Degredation Rites, by Mellinda sondgrass, which is a touching, tragic love story, as well, as a powerful political tale.
The best thing about the book, though, is the great promise it contains. It thrills me, and I'm sure I'm gonna love the next books.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tiffany rachann
This review is for Volume 1 of Wild Cards.

In the 1980's in Albuquerque a group of role-players would gather to play Superworld, a game of comic book style superheroes. George R. R. Martin was the gamemaster and from those games an idea for a Mosaic Novel was born. This is a shared world adventure and many of the writers in this first volume of Wild Cards wrote stories with their game characters central.

The premise is that aliens release a virus on earth despite a heroic attempt by Jetboy to stop them. This virus mutates the humans it contacts - some become disfigured "jokers," some die, and some are transformed into "aces" with remarkable superpowers.

Together the stories work rather poorly as a novel, but as an anthology with common rules, a common setting and some shared characters it's quite interesting. The one disconcerting thing about the book is that when a common character (such as Dr. Tachyon, the one alien friendly to humans who tried to stop the viral release) is portrayed by these various strong-willed writers their personalities change dramatically and the cohesion is lost. I found myself empathizing with Dr. Tachyon in one chapter, despising him in another, pitying him in yet another and wishing for his merciful death in various points. The development was inconsistent and subsequently I had to embrace the idea that the stories were more isolated than interlinked.

That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the book. I did, and I'll read more in this series. It's my understanding that there are a dozen published already with three more in the works. The talent is obvious, the words well-crafted, well-edited, and the short stories are captivating. I'd perhaps enjoy it more if there were less shared plotlines and characters.

This first book has chapters by Roger Zelazny, Stephen Leigh, Edward Bryant, Howard Waldrop, Lewis Shiner, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Walter Jon Williams, Leanne C. Harper, Victor Milán, John J. Miller. Can you imagine sitting down to some gaming sessions with those people? With George RR Martin as gamemaster?

I recommend it.

- CV Rick
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
desireah riley
Sept 15, 1946: Wild Card Day. When aliens from the planet Takis wanted to test their newly developed virus on a species that is similar to them, naturally, they brought it to Earth. Though they were thwarted by one of their own princes, a foppish alien who has become known to Earthlings as Dr. Tachyon, the virus fell into the hands of evil Dr. Tod, a Nazi sympathizer who, thinking it a biological weapon, decided to drop it on New York City. His archenemy, Jetboy, tried to stop him in a now-legendary air battle above Manhattan, but Jetboy was unsuccessful. When the virus was dumped on New York City, it killed 90% of the people it infected. Nine out of every ten who lived mutated into strange, often hideous, creatures who became known as "Jokers" while one in ten developed a special superpower and became an "Ace."

WILD CARDS is a shared universe in which several SFF authors contribute their own stories about those who "drew an Ace" on Wild Card Day. There are several volumes in the WILD CARDS series, all edited by George R.R. Martin, the mastermind who created WILD CARDS (with a little help from his friends) 25 years ago. For its 25th anniversary, WILD CARDS is being reprinted by Tor and, for the first time, produced on audio by Brilliance Audio. This first volume has the original stories plus three new ones. All of them introduce Aces and Jokers who lived in America during the time between the end of World War II and the end of the Vietnam war, an era known for the McCarthy hearings, the Civil Rights movement, drugs, sex, and rock `n' roll. Later WILD CARDS volumes expand on these characters and their storylines and introduce many new ones.

"Prologue" by Studs Terkel explains the Wild Card virus, why the aliens of Takis invented it, and how Dr. Tachyon tried to get here in time to warn us.

"Thirty Minutes Over Broadway" by Howard Waldrop is the story of how Jetboy tried to save New York from the alien virus in an air battle over Manhattan.

"The Sleeper" by Roger Zelazny tells the story of Croyd Crenson, a school boy who runs home during Jetboy's battle on Wild Card Day. When he goes to bed, he sleeps for a long time. Afterward, he wakes up to find that he has a different body and a superpower. The strange thing about Croyd's manifestation of the virus is that every time he wakes up, he has a different body and power.

Anti-communist sentiments are strong and the Aces, those who received special superpowers from the virus, are easy to mistrust. "Witness" by Walter Jon Williams is the story of the trials of the Four Aces and how Jack Braun, aka Golden Boy, will forever be known as a Judas.

Blythe Stanhope Van Renssaeler, the Ace known as Brain Trust, can absorb the knowledge from anyone's brain. "Degradation Rites" by Melinda M. Snodgrass tells her story and explains why her nervous breakdown broke Dr. Tachyon's heart.

In "Captain Cathode and the Secret Ace" by Michael Cassutt, Karl, a Hollywood producer with superpowers, decides to help catch The Medusa Killer, a serial murderer who targets Jokers. This is a new WILD CARDS story -- it wasn't in the original Wild Cards anthology.

The U.S. government has started rounding up Aces, but nobody knows what it's doing with them. In "Powers" by David D. Levine, we find out when one secret Ace decides to out himself so he can help rescue a captured U.S. airman.

"Shell Games" by George R.R. Martin is the story of a college-age secret Ace who decides to come out of his shell after the assassination of President Kennedy. The courage of The Great and Powerful Turtle is inspiring to Dr. Tachyon, who's been a depressed alcoholic since Blythe's breakdown.

In "The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato" by Lewis Shiner, a black/Japanese pimp discovers that he's an Ace who can use tantric sex to power his magic.

Victor Milan's "Transfigurations" introduces Mark Meadows, a biochemistry grad student who is talked into trying LSD by a girl he has a crush on. Under the influence of LSD, he transforms into an Ace who becomes known as The Radical when he gets involved in an anti-war protest in Berkeley. Dr. Meadows will later be known as Captain Trips.

"Down Deep" by Edward Bryant and Leanne C. Harper takes place mostly in the abandoned subway tunnels underneath New York City and introduces Sewer Jack Robicheaux, who turns into an alligator when stressed, and a homeless lady named Bagabond who talks to cats.

In "Strings" by Stephen Leigh, we meet a senator who is trying to use his power of influence over others to become president of the United States.

"Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan" by Carrie Vaughn, is another new story. Wraith's "ace" is that she can make parts, or all, of her body transparent. She's been reluctant to use her power, but a night out on the town changes her mind.

"Comes a Hunter" by John J. Miller tells of Daniel Brennan ("Yeoman"), a Vietnam veteran who got tied up with a traitor in Vietnam and framed for treason. After many years of hiding and training, Daniel is ready for revenge.

There are five interludes interspersed among the WILD CARD stories which further describe or explain some aspect of the WILD CARDS world. There is also an appendix at the back of the book (and at the end of the audiobook) which explains some of the background, history, and science of the virus. Audiobook readers may want to listen to that after listening to "Prologue."

Luke Daniels narrated Wild Cards, which means that it was wonderful to listen to on audio. I was excited to see this title in Brilliance Audio's catalog this season and I look forward to reading the next WILD CARDS volume, Aces High in this format. Wild Cards is more than a good anthology -- it's a wonderful shared world experience, I suspect, mostly because of George R.R. Martin's careful editing. I didn't love every story in this volume, but I do love the endless variation in the WILD CARDS world and how these stories fit together so well, each expanding this crazy world in another direction while remaining true to the original shared vision.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
divya nag
My curiosity about the Wild Cards series was piqued, first and foremost and almost two years ago, by the strength of George RR Martin's Song Of Ice & Fire series. This was in the days before Westeros became a television commodity in the form of Game Of Thrones, and as I was researching Martin's back-catalogue (as I am wont to do with authors whose words have ignited my imagination), I read about this anthology series featuring an alien 'wild card' virus that beset the human population in the 1940s and - if they weren't killed outright (drawing the dreaded 'black queen') or fortunately left unaffected - turned people into 'aces' (superheroes with enviable meta-abilities) or 'jokers' (malformed creatures characterised by dysfunction or horror). Suffice to say I was intrigued.

Unfortunately, the Wild Cards series, as I quickly discovered, was patchily published by a range of different publishers and thus exceedingly difficult to get ahold of in normal bookshops (especially ones outside the US). I didn't have the time or presence of mind to start on a hunt through second-hand sources, so shoved the series on the back burner and got on with other adventures in the realm of fiction. Fortunately, Game Of Thrones emerged as a television phenomenon in the interim, and lent even more cachet to Martin's name as a literary draw. I have no doubt that's why Wild Cards has since been optioned for film and television, and why I happened across the spanking new reprint of the very first title in the eponymous series in my local bookstore a few months ago.

I finally got around to reading the entire tome over the past couple of weeks and I can quite honestly say that I have not been so excited in a very long time to discover a new fictional universe in which I can cheerfully bury myself. The Wild Cards universe is staggering in its breadth, depth and ambition, collecting as it does stories contributed by a host of well-known sci-fi and fantasy authors - all of which add new, fascinating puzzle pieces to the mosaic that is the reimagined, post-virus world.

It's fascinating even to read about the backstory that explains the creation of this series - as you'll find on the Internet, Martin and a group of his like-minded writer friends were role-playing when they created some of the characters that would become the aces and jokers of this shared literary universe. The series took off thereafter, with Martin contributing and editing short fiction by the likes of Roger Zelazny, Lewis Shiner and, Melinda Snodgrass. That the resulting stories told in this first anthology are so coherent and thrilling is a testament to all the writers' imaginations and Martin's editorial skill.

One of the joys that has resonated particularly strongly with me in my discovery of the Wild Cards universe is how it lends complexity and richness to a fictional medium that one usually associates more with flash and visual pyrotechnics. Superheroes and villains, after all, live more brightly - or so you would think - in movies, tv shows, comic books. You want to SEE explosions, to actually be able to visualise people flying or to gasp in awe when special effects bring superhuman feats to life. But, as it turns out, translating this medium into prose allows for a depth that isn't as easily conveyed by film or even serialised television. Character motivations can be explored without restriction, and they are - you can live the transformation of a protagonist into an ace, understanding that having a superpower doesn't mean life is just hunky-dory, or feel the pain of a human being forced into a joker's deformed skin.

But this first anthology isn't content to just introduce you to a dizzying range of characters, human and inhuman emotion and capability - in fact, it sets out to firmly root the Wild Cards universe in as brutally realistic an approximation of real-world history as it can. This means that Wild Card Day (taking place barely at the beginning of the end of World War II in 1946) and its aftermath is woven into actual historical events, again deepening the complexity of the universe in a way that a single film or even tv series would find very difficult to do. We read about aces battling communism on European and Asian battlegrounds, with stories taking place right in the heart of the Cold War and going through to the protest movements of Vietnam and beyond. Aces even go underground for a time, as they come under fire during the McCarthy era and are subjected to legislation that demonises rather than lionises them in the eyes of their fellow Americans. Rather than dating the series, as one might expect, this approach allows the novel to read as fresh now in its (mis)appropriation and subverting of history as it must have done when it was first published in 1986.

I've waxed amply lyrical about the novel without even singling out particular stories or characters, but trust me when I say you are presented here with a plethora of quality and choice. This is where undoubted fan favourites like The Sleeper, Fortunato and The Great And Powerful Turtle first make their debuts, mixed in with key figures in the genesis and early days of the Wild Cards universe - like the guilt-ridden alien psi-lord Dr Tachyon, who tries to fix what the virus has wrought by staying on as a resident of Earth. There's a thrill to be had too in watching these characters pop up and interact in stories crafted by authors other than their own. It makes the entire universe feel somehow richer and more real, more credible.

The pick of the bunch of stories remains the ones set immediately after the unfortunate unleashing of the virus over Manhattan. Zelazny's The Sleeper introduces the titular Croyd Crenson, a sort-of ace with the most psychologically fascinating and damaging power I've encountered in any sci-fi/fantasy medium. It's a shame that this series remains something of a cult favourite, because it means people have yet to meet Croyd and the myriad story-telling opportunities he represents. As I understand it, Croyd's unique ability allows loyal fans to look out in particular for his appearances throughout the series - something about which I will say no more to avoid letting slip any spoilers. I'm partial also to Walter John Williams' award-winning Witness, which perfectly creates a believable, rich parallel history for the Wild Cards universe in introducing us to Jack Braun, whose tale takes us through minefields both literal and political. Snodgrass' Degradation Rites is also a triumph, giving us insight into Tachyon's sojourn on Earth and his dalliance with human ace Brain Trust, aka Blythe van Renssaeler.

The other stories, and this includes the three new ones added in the reprinted edition (Powers being the best of that trio of stories) are all solidly, compellingly told and help expand and add texture to this universe that I am all too excited to keep exploring.

Of course, this does mean that I now have to do what I'd put off doing that first time I encountered the Wild Cards series - hunt down secondhand copies of the other books, as I'm pretty sure I can't bear to wait as the series gets slowly reprinted year by year. No, on the strength of this first collection of stories, I'm incredibly excited to find out how this fictional universe continues to expand, grow, adapt and change - much like the wild card virus that has brought forth a host of new protagonists and stories that I am only too glad to have in my life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tuhu nugraha dewanto
Mutant Americana: This anthology deftly blends the work of several writers into a history of the fictional wild card virus epidemic. historical eras are blended into watershed created moments in the 20th century. Some selections are darkly noir-esque, while others are move obvious allegories for minority rights, From WWII to the 1950s anti-communist witch hunts, to the campus 60s protests, American culture is given a parallel world of flying, transforming and often tortured creatures, all forever changed by an alien visit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gary jackson
I remember read this when it first came out. I was impressed by it though some of it went over my head. No I am even more impressed by how credible the world building is. There are plenty of humorous elements like the fake articles by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S Thompson.

Most of this book is concerned with world building and setting the scene for further volumes. Compared to actual comics it is much more realistic and consistent.

Virtually all of the stories work though some especially towards the end of the book are a little prosaic.

I really enjoyed it and for once the reality was better than the memory.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bill hughes
There was one character, that had his own story and cameo-ed in two others that never seemed to fit. He seemed more mystical in origin than any other character. Other than him not fitting in with the rest of the book, it was great to finally read the beginning of the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen hsu
I read this series when it was originally released. I wasnt happy with where the series eventually ended up late in the series, but the earlier works are fond favorites.
People buying this book (or others in the series) because they are fans of GRRMartins Song of Ice and Fire series are likely to be disapointed due to misaligned expectations.
The only thing this series has in common with the Song of Ice and Fire is a gritty certainty that favorite characters will get killed....or worse, and the use of widely scattered often disconnected characters and plotlines that sometimes may cross but also might never. Further, as this is a 'mosaic' novel, GRRMartin isnt the sole proprietor of the stories.
Treated as a seperate entity from GRRMartin's more recent series, the Wild Cards series is a fairly unique and often brilliant body of work. Due to its nature, not all of the short stories will appeal to everyone; to be sure there are stories and story arcs that dont appeal to me either.
Regardless, taken as a whole the series is really something special. Its similar to a massive wall mural which cant be appreciated from up close; you have to pull back abit and look at it in its entirety to fully appreciate the overall effect.
The strength of the series lays in its deft characterizations. Some of my favorite fictional characters are from this series; the Turtle, Croyd Crenson (the Sleeper), Golden Boy, Mackie Messer, Carnifex, Mr Nobody, Jumpin Jack Flash (et al), Kid Dinosaur.....the list goes on and on.
The series really picks up in the second book, but the 1st is where all of the necessary background resides.
Unfortunately, the books are being released in a grossly overpriced large softbound edition; my advice it to find the original paperbacks in a used book store.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
How could I resist this trip back to high school for $2.99? I remember first picking up this series as it was coming out back in the 80's. Back then, super hero literature beyond comic books was virtually non-existant so this was truly welcome.

The format was the same as another series I enjoyed back then, Thieves World. Multiple authors, multiple short stories, an overarching storyline. It was a shared universe just like Marvel and DC. And like Marvel and DC it was sort of hit and miss. After I get a chance to reread this I will come back and break down the stories on their own merit.

If you are here because of George R. R. Martin beware: this book is edited by Martin, not written. This is not to say that it is not good, it is just not written by Martin. So, do not expect things similar to Game of Thrones. For $2.99 you really can't miss here, just do not be upset that this is different from other Martin books you have read.

Now on to the adventure of The Great and Powerful Turtle and the Sleeper.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Surprising and the most interesting part of the book appeared in appendixes: physics models for heros super powers are really interesting for me. Also there are a lot of interesting info on newer history of US and the world.

Most of the story is scare, cruel and marginal, separate stories not to easy to connect, read and not too involving. Reminds of Sin City movie. Original mix, recommended.

Once again book read in Russian and not verified buy and I promise to read new Gibson's book and write an review soon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I think this series is an squired taste, and I don't think I squired it. I was somewhat relieved when my loan expired and did not miss the last story or two I did not read. Having read up on the series after borrowing the book I think the writers are doing this more for each other than the reader. However, you must admire the talent of the writing itself. These are excellent writers who are focused on the concept of the mosaic novel.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Picked it up to read on a plane - made it about half way thru by the time we landed. Took me another two weeks to finish. I kept picking up other books to read (and reread) - this one is definitely not a page turner.

Have to say I was seriously disappointed and am not about to look for more.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kathryn camille
I am a fan of George R. R. Martin, I think he is one of the most talented writers around today. Furthermore, Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" Series is a masterpiece of writing. Additionally, I have enjoyed some of his short stories. However, I would caution anyone about the "Wild Cards". This is not at all like Martin's other works. "Wild Cards" is a single plot carried over many different short stories written by many authors.
The plot is interesting and initially it sounded great. A deadly virus infects earth after World War II and humans that are infected undergo various physiological and mental changes. Each author brings his own style to the story and some are outstanding. I especially enjoyed Roger Zelazny's story "Ashes to Ashes".
However, overall I could not get into the story. Trying to follow a single story line over many short stories is difficult enough but having to contend with different author's styles, makes it tedious. Some of the stories are down right boring, others are hard to follow. This is very unfortunate because I had great hopes for this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alina brewer
I have recently found this series and am hooked. The best points of this book and all subsequent books are the characters. Yeah it was ground breaking work to have so many stories by multiple authors weave together to form a sum that is greater than the individuals themselves and in that aspect alone this first novel is a masterpiece . However it is the individuals that really drive the series cause they all are unique in the sense that there aren't clearly defined in terms of perfect ideals of heroes and anti heros. In this world of fantasy we can find a reflection of reality where both the heroes and villans have warts. That is to say that they arnt clearly defined by a black and white world. In fact the most idealized character of this series fails. As the first book of the series not only is wild cards a must read but in my opinion it is by far the best. It sets the tone for the rest of the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jerome baladad
This is a reprint of the first book in the Wild Cards series. When I first read the original many, many years ago, I became absolutely enthralled with the characters and the unique style of storytelling. The Wild Cards series is made up of predominantly "Mosaic Novels", meaning that each novel is comprised of short stories written by different writers, each from the point of view of their own characters in the Wild Cards universe, but all the short stories taken together comprise one whole META-story, if you will. When I finished this first book, I began a frantic search to find the rest of the series (they were out of print before I had even read the first book) that took me several years. And, to my surprise, I found that this book, as amazing as it was, wasn't even one of the best in the series! But, it's very important, as it portrays the events that seperate the Wild Cards universe from our own reality, and therefore is ALMOST essential to fully experience the Wild Cards. Most of the series I had ended up borrowing and have never been able to find for sale, so I was overjoyed when I found out they were reprinting it. The reprints contain some really nice art to illustrate the tale as you go along (the best art I have seen of the Wild Cards so far), and they make this book worth the purchase, even if you already own the original printing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dennis tomlinson
Wild Cards is a great series. This, of course, is not by far the best book in the series; as it mainly serves as a 400 page introduction; but for such an involved and sprawling saga, perhaps such a thing was necessary. The huge back story had to be chronicled, and there was little other way to introduce such a large gallery of significant characters other than to devote chapters to each without getting into a consecutive story. Even so, this book sets certain events in motion that DO eventually put it into the bigger picture and link this with the two following books as somewhat of a trilogy. Overall, very well written, great characters, and Martin edits it exquisitely; making this shared, multi-author book seem like it was all done by one person.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Do not order the hardback of this expanded edition as only half of the novel is contained. I have scoured the internet trying to find out if Tor printed that second half because the book is very nicely presented; however, I can find no record of Tor issuing Volume 2 of book 1 in the mini hardcover series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For those of you out there that grew up on comic books as I did, this book is a must. From the get-go the collaborative authors strip down super-heroes to their roots and show how truly heroic people are. There aren't any fancy teams or 2 dimensional characters. These are all people that you might meet and love, hate, want... etc. Except some of them have weird powers and some of them as bizarrely misshapen. Oh, and make sure to watch a little boy name Tom become a true hero, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TURTLE, through the books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kendra oxendale
I've read this book before, but this edition has new material added from authors Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassutt, and David D. Levine. In short, the new additions are excellent and add more depth to an already richly detailed universe. This book made me want to write superhero fiction. I'm a fan of Wild Cards for life, and hope someday to get to make my own contribution to that universe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pooja kobawala
This series is set in an alternate history Earth where a alien virus was released on Earth in 1946, causing some to die("Black Queen"), some to get horribly mutated("Jokers") and very few, super powers("Aces"). This is the first book in the series and is pretty much the setup/backround for the rest of the stories. Like most of the books, it is a collection of short stories written by a group of sci-fi authors that include George R R Martin, Melinda Snograss and Roger Zelazny(the whole first series was printed before his death in the mid 90s).
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ann kuntz
There's not really an overarching plot, it's the story of a lot of individuals and how they were affected by the virus. Since there are different authors, I felt it was a tiny bit disjointed sometimes (particularly one chapter starring tantric magic all of a sudden and necrophilia) but overall it was a good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If you're a fan of rotating story arcs (a la Game of Thrones), superheroes, historical fiction/fantasy, then you should definitely give this a read. If you had to relate Wild Cards to more mainstream superheroes, then it'd be a gritty X-men, and if you've ever played the Freedom Force games, it's clear that these stories may have been a huge inspiration.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
melanie hickey
First note that this book is not written by George R.R. Martin - but rather is edited by him. The book is written by many different authors.

The concept of the book is great and the variety of characters is interesting and unique. Although each author did a great job - the book seems choppy at times and as a reader I got lost as styles and characters changed with each chapter.

However- the book was a good read and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Wild Cards has an interesting premise, but in this, the first volume, it fails to realise it's full potential. The main problem with this mosaic novel is the lack of continuity of characters throughout the book. As each chapter/story is written by a different author, they all seem to want to introduce several of their own characters into the story, and whilst these characters provide interesting plot lines, they never seem to interlace with other characters that were introduced earlier in the book, leaving you to ask; what's the point of having all these characters at all? There's only one character that appears consistently throughout the novel, and therefore he is the only one that provides any sort of interest.
As each chapter/story is written by a different author, you have to constantly adjust to the authors style. This added to the fact that in each chapter the story jumps to a whole new set of characters, you can become confused and lose yourself very easily.
The book, as a whole, is a hit and miss affair. For example, the story "The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato" by Lewis Shiner really is quite awful and to be frank, rather stupid. "Shell Games" by George R. R. Martin is very good indeed (though it lacks the sharp dialogue of his brilliant "A Song of Ice and Fire" series). "Strings" by Stephen Leigh is a taut web of a story with a few suprises and is easily the best in the book.
Overall, the first volume of 'Wild Cards' is slightly disappointing with some major teething problems. However, the book is, in most parts, still immensely enjoyable due to the mostly accomplished storytelling of its authors, and the premise certainly has a lot of potential.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
allison chan
I read all of the released Fire and Ice series and really enjoyed them. The format is short stories by various authors which I did not expect, I probably should have paid attention to the description. All the story were well written with good pacing and a few of the characters were woven through several stories.
A fun read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
adrian mack
Interesting premise and surprisingly relevant the the current social atmosphere. kept my interest but the cycle of hate and bigotry doesn't spark my interest to read on. Plus there's no conclusion to the story.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is one of the reasons why I do not like to read books that are written successively by many authors. Unfortunately for the the genre is one that I do not often read so you may want to consider this. The bigger objection I have is the jerking you get from reading one author and then the next. Sorry, but this does not do it for me.

J. Robert Ewbank
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chad kittel
I purchased this because I *loved* the A Song of Ice and Fires series, and because I used to love comic books. Well, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I'd hoped. I found that with a couple of exceptions, I didn't find myself connecting with the characters, and the stories were not that exciting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
linda owen
I can't make a 3.5 rating so I'll round it up due to a few great stories and the sheer grandeur involved in editing together a shared anthology. This is only book one but they progressed quite a few years forward without covering as many origin stories or day one stories as I would have liked.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
While I knew the basic concept of the Wild Cards universe this was actually my first time reading anything set in that universe. Thankfully, the stories are written so that someone not up on the series can go in and enjoy the stories without being confused.

The stories are all pretty good though there were one or two that seemed to run long. On the other hand the story written as if it was Hunter S. Thompson's work was sadly far, far too short. But I'm a HUGE Thompson fan so that's my bias there.

Other than that the only real complaint I have is that not all the stories were 100% clear as to just when they were set. Yes, you could always tell that it was the 50s or 60s or whenever, but a clearer timeline would have helped. The stories seemed to have been presented in more or less chronological order but there were still some times when I was confused by the order of events.

In any case this is a really great read for anyone who enjoys superheroes or historical sci-fi.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kerry lynn
I really enjoyed most of the stories, but as some people said some are better than others. The Lewis Shiner one especially bugged me, it didn't seem like it was written in the same world as the rest. It was annoying to be reading about people affected by the virus for 200 pages, then all of a sudden there's demonic possession and witchcraft. On top of that I just don't think Lewis Shiner is very good, his story was confusing and just not very interesting. I hope he doesn't contribute to the rest of series much. if he does I will probably skip his chapters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gail monique
Wild Cards is a comic book/sci-fi lovers dream. Putting superheroes/villians into the real world makes for the compelling drama.
I read and collected this series around 8 years ago and have wanted to find someone else who read them ever since. Now that the first two volumes (out of thirteen) have been re-released I may finally get that chance. Not to be missed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I first read this book more than 20 years ago. To this day, it's one of my favorite all time books ( and series!). It's a pretty adult look at a "comic book" world with the right mix of super powers, sci-fi, and drama. What I liked best about the book and series was that none of the characters were perfect and none had all the answers to everything. Everyone was completely believable and the fact that it inter-twined real world events cemented it.
Now with this new edition, a whole new generation of fans can enjoy this series. There was somewhat of a revival of the series a few years back and I'm glad they decided to go and re-print the original novels. What's even better is that this one has 3 entirely new stories, so even if you already own it, it's worth buying again.
I totally recommend this book and think pretty much everyone would have fun with this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mike s
In 1946, Jetboy begins what looks like a suicide mission to save New York City from the Takisians invasion. The aliens plan to use Manhattan as a mass weapon experiment. He has "Thirty Minutes Over Broadway" (by Howard Waldrop) to prevent the tragedy; he fails.

While most died from the virus, nine percent suffered monstrous body changes and one percent became the super powerful beings - Jokers to some; Aces to others. When the bomb exploded he was a ninth grader who is ironically two decades later the "Sleeper" (by Roger Zelazny) who cannot allow himself to sleep; he has become a Wild Card like a few other survivors who must unite as the Swarm from space is coming to the Omni.

This is the opening tales from one of the great continuous superhero (and villain) anthologies. Ten of the entries were printed in the original first collection in 1987. There are three new contributions that fit nicely into this extremely dark world; in fact expand on the premise, especially the "Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan" by Carrie Vaughn. Although a couple of contributions feel awkward in terms of the overarching theme as if George R.R. Martin was still experimenting with Wild Aces, none of the entries are poorly written. This is a great return to the beginning of the fabulous Wild Cards Universe.

Harriet Klausner
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The world changed in 1946. An alien virus was released over New York City. Ninety percent of those infected died horribly having drawn the Black Queen. Nine percent were disfigured and became known as Jokers. The lucky one percent became superhuman and were called Aces.

I have waited for this series to come into the ebook market. I had this book and the rest of the first series in paperback. I cannot give this book a 5 star rating due to it being very disconnected from one chapter to the next as it spans decades of the world with only the Takisian virus being the glue to tie it all together. However, this book lays down the groundwork that makes the rest of the series so excellent. I think that what makes this series so great is the authors were/are very protective of their characters and have a say when other authors use them their stories.

My only advice is to wait until either they put the others books in this series into this format and/or lower the prices possibly through a sale. But if you are willing to take a chance and get it now I don't believe you will be disappointed
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kae swu
This book is unique in its approach. The Wild Card's universe is a fascinating alternate history that is given great depth by the plethora of unique characters. The short stories by different authors is simultaneously the greatest strength and weakness of the book. It adds great diversity and perspective but can really disrupt the pacing and flow. All in all, this is a superb sci-fi novel. The price may be a bit steep for such an older work but you definitely get your money's worth. Lets hope the rest of the volumes are re-released as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read this back when it first came out and eagerly look forward to reading the 3 new stories once I get my hands on the new edition. I mostly wanted to go ahead and add a review to negate the one star posted for (in my opinion) all the wrong reasons.
As for content, if you like superheroes in a more mature vein ala Watchmen this is for you. Some of these characters rival their comic book cousins as my favorite characters to have followed over the years. You'll meet the likes of The Great and Powerful Turtle, The Sleeper, Dr. Tachyon, Fortunato, Golden Boy, The Radical, amongst others. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashley roach
The world that these authors put together is brilliant. A new twist on American history on post-WWII to the Red Scare. Reading how each author adds their own style and heroes, yet melding it with all the others is a refreshing take on sci-fi. Can't wait for the next one.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I've read almost all of Gerrge R R Martin's books and have loved them all except this one. His books evoke strong emotions and the characters are almost as real to me as the people that I know. This one bored me.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jeff munnis
It does not take very long when reading this book to discover GRRM is a liberal. If you are a die-hard conservative, you probably wish to skip this book, even if you really enjoyed "The Song of Ice and Fire". Since this book's setting is a weird semi-historical US, GRRM's political views permeate this story.

On another note, if you are moderate or Liberal, this might be a fantastic read.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Really Macmillan?? You want to dupe people into buying a 23 year old book in eBook form for more than the original paperback book? $9.99 is outrageous for any book that is already in paperback and even more outrageous for a 23 year old book? How many trees did you use to publish the electronic bits? Zero. How many man hours did it require to convers to Kindle format? Zero since the computer converted it once and you were done. This is nothing but greed in my opinion. And for the rest of you folks who try and comment on my comment because it is not about the story, get lost. You are all feeding the Greed Machine if you buy the electronic copy of this book for $9.99 in my opinion and I don't care about your remarks. I will continue to point out the greed in comments ere and on iBooks as well whenever I see corporate greed like this. Go buy a used copy of the same book on the store for $5 instead.
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