“Wild Cards” edited by George R.R. Martin

As you can see, this is the first time it says “edited by” instead of just “by”. Sadly it took me several chapters of the book for this to dawn on me. When I first heard about this book, all everyone said was it was by the guy who wrote Game of Thrones and it’s very similar to that series. It wasn’t until very recently that I saw the book in print. With the hit of Game of Thrones, all Martin’s past books are in reprint. Wild Cards was originally printed in the 70s, yet my copy is brand new.

Jumping into the book (clearly without taking notice of anything!) I plowed through several chapters before I realized the writing style was changing. Perspective, characters, voice, even the choice of words was incredibly different than the previous chapters. So, I flipped back through and realized my error. Each “chapter” is a new author, and each author writes about a different event on the same timeline. It’s like a sci-fi round robin but each event is further along the timeline, so it reads in a cohesive order.

The story starts with an Alien crash landing on earth, post WW2, and demanding to see Werner, Einstein, and the President. His name is so long they dubbed him “Tachyon”, but he told them he was trying to beat a ship carrying a deadly virus, and the ship broke up on entry so it was vital everyone knows.

The next author continued on this line with the war Hero “jetboy”, and how a capsule containing the disease was found and deployed. From there we get into chapters containing the “Wild Card”. The disease that was released wasn’t a zombie virus or a deadly flu strain, it was a disease that changed a persons DNA and created “Aces” or “Jokers”. Aces were your stereotypical superheroes. They could hide in plain sight because they looked like everyone else, and their powers were incredible and powerful. Though, there were “deuces”, which are Aces with lame powers. The other side of that coin are the jokers – they’re the ones whose bodies were destroyed and twisted, who couldn’t hide in plain sight. From giant gargoyles, to human faced dogs.

Every author writes about a different character, but through following a consistent time line, each brings up characters from the previous author, so even though it’s a disjointed storytelling, you can still tell it takes place together. This style of writing reminds me a lot of World War Z, in how it’s not a “story” so much as a collection of observations that follow a consistent storyline. If that makes any sense.

The book follows Tacyhon, as well as special government Aces and their incline and fall, and beyond. You get to see different aces and how their lives were changed or destroyed, and what they had to do to survive the whims of the government.

It is incredibly interesting, and the fact that it is constantly changing kind of keeps you interested and on your toes. It is the first in a series, so it will be interesting to see how this is carried on!

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