Skip to main content

Wild Cards - Edited by George R. R. Martin

Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A mosaic novel where after an alien virus is exploded over New York City (and into the jet stream), society has a parallel force of Aces and Jokers, victims/beneficiaries of the virus. What's coolest (for me) is the way actual events were woven into the story: the McCarthy HUAD hearings, the protest against Viet Nam, Watergate... All in all, it's pretty cool.

The stories, however, are uneven:

1. Prologue: a solid piece that explains how Tachyon arrives on Earth.
2. Thirty Minutes Over Broadway! (Waldrop): Even though the story is dark, it taps into the heroic genre. Jetboy is a larger-than-life hero worshipped by the people. The maniac dispersing a virus over New York City rings a lot different now (post 9/11) than when it was written. Consequently, I was really pulling for Jetboy’s success, though, of course, that would have made for a short series. ;-)
3. The Sleeper (Roger Zelazny): One of my favorites in the collection. It really helps demonstrate the wide range of outcomes. Croyd Crenson is a great gray character, living in an uncertain world with complicated morals.
4. Witness (Walter Jon Williams): Introduces a hero turned villain, Jack Braun, along with the HUAC’s involvement in the story. This was depressing and effective.
5. Degradation Rites: (Melinda Snodgrass) So this is the HUAC case from another angle, from the perspective of Tachyon and Blythe. Since she is my favorite of the Aces and I have absolute contempt for the HUAC, I found the story to be compelling and was left distraught. Effective tale.
6. Shell Games (GRRM): The Great and Powerful Turtle details the rise of a new era of aces. Clever story and the characters were true to form, powerful and foolhardy as juveniles with Peter Parker-like popularity.
7. Dark Night of Fortunato (Lewis Shiner): The hero of this story is a pimp who acquires telepathic powers (or perhaps read telepathic impressions) when he has an orgasm, sucking in the tantric energy of whoever he is with, like a Reichian vampire. He uses this power to find a serial killer, someone who has killed one of his working geishas. When I started reading this, I was excited by the darkness, the violence, and the sex, but the backstory—where we learn how Fortunato became a pimp (at 14)—and his scene with Lenore felt so cliché. I had that moment where you look at the book in your hand and question your judgment. It felt a bit tawdry.
8. Transfigurations: (Victor Milán) Introduces Cap’n Trips. Best story of the book, imho. Mark’s an MIT student trying to break into 1960s West Coast culture, about to do his thesis on psychotropic drugs, but hasn’t really indulged. He runs into a girl he knew from high school who is well-versed in such matters, revisits his adolescent lust for her, and ends up at an anti-war rally tripping balls. What happens next is pretty much amazing.
9. Wild Card Chic: (Tom Wolfe) I love this placement. We see the WC folks are in vogue now. They have their special restaurant and everything’s going right… finally. Even Dr. Tachyon is happy.
10. Down Deep: (Edward Bryant & Leanne Harper) Bagabond, the bag lady, Sewer Jack, alligator man, and CC Ryder (the train). This was pretty weak. The crime angle seemed very cliché. So many stereotypes.
11. Strings (Steven Leigh): The Puppetman manipulates everyone to get everything he wants. People fall for it. I like this villain. The story made me wonder what the limits of psychic power are. Puppetman can control so many people at once. I guess with all the trickery my suspension of disbelief was affected.
12. Comes a Hunter (John J. Miller): This is about how Yeoman seeks revenge. The battle scene was clever. Not bad, but not at the level of some of the earlier stories.
13. Epilogue (Lewis Shiner): Yeah, also didn’t move the needle for me.

View all my reviews


Popular posts from this blog


Wazimbo's "Nwahulwana" Found this on a German site: Warum wanderst du von Bar zu Bar? (“Why do you wander from bar to bar?”) So, the first time I heard this I thought I recognized some Portuguese, but it’s illusory; the language is actually Ronga. I suppose it was just the echoes of Brazilian music. I found, though, a translation into Portuguese, which I will translate to English, but here’s the thing: this transcription of the words isn’t correct. Also, I’m almost certain I hear “vôce” which means “you” in the lyrics. First, “nwahulwana” itself is a soft expression for prostitute, hence “night bird” is the poetic meaning. I thought it was a love song. My wife thought it was a prayer (probably because of the way Wazimbo lifts his eyes to the sky when he sings “Maria”). So, it is something like this, but there are mistakes, because the lines don’t match up. Also, I wonder if he is singing “Nwahulwana” when the song starts - . It’s hard to know since I don’t

My review of The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood My rating: 5 of 5 stars Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is brilliant literary science fiction. I will discuss the literary aspects of it in a moment, but first it’s important to place it squarely in the domain of science fiction. First, under Darko Suvin's definition of sci fi, the question is whether there is cognitive strangeness and nova. They are very apparent, specifically the new assignment of gender roles, along with the reason they exist. The nova introduced are ecological disasters, an enormous rise in failure to Gileadeans to sexually reproduce, and the imposition of a fundamentalist government that divides women by their function, entirely controlling them. We know (again from the lecture) that Atwood was responding to societal changes, such as the rise of the Moral Majority, which lends a spooky plausibility to the strangeness, making it not so strange and that much scarier. Delany's definition is wider. He as

Script Abbreviations in Screen Writing

SCRIPT ABBREVIATIONS  ELS extreme long shot  MLS medium long shot  LS long shot  MS medium shot  MCU medium close-up  CU close-up  ECU extreme close-up  OS over-the-shoulder shot  2-S or 3-S two-shot or three-shot  POV point of view shot  ZI or ZO zoom in or zoom out  INT interior  EXT exterior  SOT or SOF sound on tape or sound on film BG background  SFX or F/X special effects (can be either sound or visual)  VO voice-over  OSV off-screen voice  DIS dissolve  MIC microphone  VTR videotape  Q cue (as in cue talent)  ANNCR announcer  SUPER superimposition