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Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1)

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  6,190 ratings  ·  527 reviews
A shared-universe superhero prose anthology edited by George R.R. Martin.

It all began in 1946, when the bizarre, gene-altering Wild Cards virus was unleashed in the skies over New York City. A virus that created superpowered Aces and bizarre, disfigured Jokers.

Now, thirty years later, the victims face a new nightmare. From the far reaches of space comes The Swarm, a deadl
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published July 31st 2001 by I Books (first published 1986)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carol.
Sep 20, 2013 Carol. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of comics, short stories.
I haven't read more than a snippet or two from George R.R. Martin (I could not get into A Game of Thrones), so it wasn't George's reputation that lured me into picking this up. It was actually Daniel Abraham's Wild Card short story in an anniversary anthology from Tor. He created a haunting vision of a New York superhero and her desire for normalcy. Somehow, that lead me to the Wild Card series (no doubt late night sleep-surfing around Goodreads) and the discovery that Roger Zelazny was a contri ...more
Jim
Almost 5 stars. Martin, the editor, outlined the universe, very similar to ours except for the (view spoiler). Then he turned some of the best SF/Fantasy writers loose. Wow. History is rewritten in some interesting ways, but filled with familiar figures. Imagine Kennedy, McCarthy, Nixon, Humphrey & all dealing with the wild cards. Comic, tragic, vile & heroic, but all larger than life, these characters bring to life so many of the attitudes & ...more
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
Wild Cards—This collection of shor t stories is generally good, though, there are some things that bother me about it, but the quality of writing and much of the content are things that I like in stories, especially short stories, as are the subjects highlighted by the writing. It’s not all done as I prefer however. I’ll get into that shortly.

The premise of “Wild Cards” is that an advanced (in some ways) alien culture had become aware of earth and, because earthlings had similar physiology to th
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Kim
I first heard of this book a few years ago when I read GRRM: A RRetrospective which included one of George R. Martins contributions to the first volume. Ever since that little glimpse I was hooked and wanted to read more. Finally I got my hands on a copy.

Wild Cards is set in an alternate reality which broke away in the 1940's just after WW2. An alien virus was released over Manhattan which could affect people in one of 3 ways - kill them (90%), mutate them into a deformed creature (called a Joke
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An Odd1
The editor created a game world for fellow writer friends who contributed chapters. Just after WW2, an alien virus transforms human genetics and goes recessive. Most victims die, others experience physical or psychic changes: aces have useful powers, deuces minor maybe entertaining abilities, jokers uglified, disabled, relegated to ghettos. Some smiles, more despair.

Real historical issues are based on fact. Red Tail US airborne, first and only black unit, never lost a bomber they escorted, alth
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J.M.
WILD CARDS I just barely made three stars (2.5) for me. I liked a few stories in it (there was even a four-star tale here and there; counterbalanced by a few one-star efforts), but the overall achievement was merely "okay." Many of the shorts were solid in execution, but the book itself was quite hit-and-miss in the overall spirit of the "Golden Age of Heroes" and actually depressing, stamping a rather dejected impression on me in the larger sense. Will I read more in this series? It seems to be ...more
Paul
I have explained in the past that I am not a massive fan of short story collections but there is an exception to every rule. In my opinion, The Wild Cards novels are the best ongoing series of short stories available today. When I heard that Tor Books was re-releasing the first novel I felt compelled to immediately start re-reading my old copy.

How best to describe the concept of Wild Cards? The quick answer would be – imagine an alternative Earth where an alien virus has been released and as a r
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Sath
This is an anthology of short stories, set in a shared universe, edited by George RR Martin (but note he does contribute stories as well as editing).

The Wild Cards universe begins in 1946, the same as ours up until that point, then an alien virus known as the 'wild card' virus is unleashed over New York. The majority of affected people die from the virus. Of those that survive; A small percentage gain deformities - extra limbs etc (these are known as Jokers), an even smaller percentage gain supe
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Shelly
After finishing book 5 in Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, I knew I would have to wait at least a decade before I saw book 6. *just kidding George, now get back to writing*. In the interim, I decided to try and get my fix of Martin from his long running, shared world superhero anthology. The results is kind of a mixed bag. Some decent stories, some really good stories and some stories I'd rather not have read.

I'll probably read future volumes since I like the idea of a more
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Ana
I started this book last year for the one and only reason that it was directed by George Martin, and I was in love with his style from his now well-known and massively-mediatized series, A Song of Ice and Fire . I loved that series, every second of it, so here I was bouncing up and down when I heard that George Martin was the editor to another series, and not just ANY kind of series, but one that took 21 books to be written.

Wait for me, heaven of long stories, I'm just around the corner.

So I
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Hacedores Desierto
Nos encontramos con un rara avis dentro del mercado literario español: un compendio de relatos situados en el mismo mundo alternativo y editado para ganar coherencia por el mismo George R. R. Martin (del que se incluye un relato), sí, el autor de Juego de Tronos . Muchos de los nombres que firman los relatos no son precisamente conocidos, aunque alguno hay, como Roger Zelazny. Pero eso no es lo que más llama la atención de este compendio, sino el cuidado y el cariño que se le ha puesto. Se trat ...more
Tammy
I won a copy of this from Goodreads First Reads.

I liked a number of the stories. It was in between a set of standalone stories and cohesive serial, but as a result, much of it felt like it was introducing the characters.

Minutes over Broadway by Howard Waldrop (2/5) - introduces Jetboy, a fighter pilot war hero, and the wild card virus. It was filled with WWII references that went over my head, and I had a hard time getting into the story.

The Sleeper by Roger Zelazny (3/5) - has one of the cooler
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terpkristin
Audio from Brilliance Audio
Narrated by Luke Daniels
Length: About 19 hours

Quick version: great opening, good narration, but overall 3 stars because of the stories in the last half of the book, which seemed to wander and lose my attention.

Full version:
“Wild Cards” is a collection of short stories, edited by George R.R. Martin. The audiobook is an updated version from the 1987 original version—it has three stories not in the original, added in 2010. A number of big-name authors contributed to the a
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Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

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,
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Katerina
Cosa succede quando un gruppo di scrittori decide di mettersi a giocare di ruolo? Una serie fantascientifica di venti volumi, ecco cosa succede.

Wild Cards - L'Origine è un libro strano. Definirlo un'antologia non lo trovo del tutto corretto: come ha detto la Mondadori è un libro "a mosaico" dove ogni racconto è un tassello che in questo primo volume ci mostra in cosa il mondo è cambiato rispetto al nostro, dopo l'introduzione del virus sulla scacchiera.
Sono 500 pagine di setting, ambientazione e
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Chris
Just to be a completest, I read the three stories added to the 2010 re-release of Wild Cards.

Good stuff, for the most part. They don't really add a lot to the volume, but they're a decent inclusion. "Ghost Girls Take Manhattan" was a very good story on its own. That didn't surprise me, as I'm a fan of Carrie Vaughn's writing already.
Jim
I read this in high school, but don't remember so much about the war in the beginning. It just kind of dragged on for me for a while. When are we getting to the good stuff? Where is Fortunato? The Turtle? Where are all the cool jokers? The stories were interesting to be sure, but all of the politics and all of the courtroom scenes started to get a little boring. Finally, nearly halfway through, we get through a lot of the background and into the stories I was more interested in.

I still love The
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Joe
This was immensely enjoyable! I was dubious going in just because of it's structure: A universe created by George R. R. Martin with many different authors writing their own stories that Martin then edits together and it's all supposed to make sense and not be uneven? Sure...right.

Well say what you will about that tubby, hat wearing, Stark killing, guy but he (they) really pulled it off. I'll do reviews of each segment and then wrap up at the end.

Prologue by George R. R. Martin: This does a great
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Niall Teasdale
Wild Cards gets an extra half-point because a lot of it stemmed from an old Superworld campaign George RR Martin ran. Superworld was not my first RPG, but it was my first superhero RPG, and it was pretty good.

Back to the book. It's not exactly an anthology. Maybe the last three stories are, but most of Wild Cards is a novel about politics and prejudice where all the chapters are written by different people. It tells the story of how the Wild Card virus came to Earth, affected a bunch of folks, a
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Gregor Xane
Two things have kept me from reading this series for quite some time:

1) The "mosaic" novel aspect: I felt that switching authorial voices every chapter would dilute the storytelling.
2) I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy "superhero" stories without the sequential art.

For reservation number 1, it wasn't the switching authorial voices that bothered me, it was the lack of a narrative through-line. And reservation number 2 ended up being a non-issue.

This linked collection of short stories set in a shar
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Brainycat
This is an excellent treatment of the pulp scifi genre. I especially like the way it embraces pulp without being self-referential. Breaking the story up between different writers also helps add to the feeling that the world of the Wild Card virus is a dynamic world, with numerous goings-on that can relate to each other in all kinds of ways.

The stories are by turns intensely interpersonal, or action oriented, but they all juxtapose noir with the giddiness inherit to shared scifi - "Look at all th
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David
This shared-world superhero series was fantastic, at least in the beginning. It did the "superheroes in the real world" concept better than I've seen since, and the characters were fantastic. Later, as the authors made it darker and darker, each book became "Who will be raped, tortured, and butchered by the end of this installment?" and I began to find it less enjoyable, but the entire series is worth reading.
Stefanie Hasse hisandherbooks.de
Zitat:
„Die Verletzung an der empfindlichsten Stelle des menschlichen Körpers hatte wieder einmal Wunder gewirkt. Schlaff sank der verwundete Arm an der Seite des Asses hinab.“
(S.25)

„Im Fauchen der knisternden Flammen war von draußen das Kreischen eines Babys zu hören. Es war ein durchdringender Laut, der die Anspannung auf eine neue Ebene hob.“
(S.58)

„Wir haben das ganze Land durchkämmt nach neuen Assen, nach mächtigen Fähigkeiten und nach Menschen, die das Zeug dazu haben, die Welt zu verändern.
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Jim
I came intonation book with some expectations of "gritty" super hero stories...what I found was a sociological examination of recent American history through the lens of comic book mutant tales.

The overall idea is intriguing, following the development of mutant hero Aces and twisted Jokers through the heady days of post-war America, through the suspicion and paranoia of the Red Scare and on, but the actual stories can be very hit-and-miss. which is surprising, given the all star cast of writers,
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Leslie
This was one of my favorite books as a teenager and I'm re-reading it now because a) I want to see how it holds up in my adult mind and b) because of the George RR Martin factor. In my teens I probably picked it up at the library based on that blue cover alone.

My thoughts on the book now? The fact that this is a short story collection explains why the narrative doesn't flow in a conventional way. But there is still enough cohesiveness to keep the story arc together. I didn't understand the cold
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Mighty_Mo
er Klappentext hat mich wirklich sehr angesprochen und der Name George R.R. Martin verspricht epische Unterhaltung (den Hinweis, dass er nur der Herausgeber ist habe ich komplett "ignoriert" gehabt).

Was kann ich sagen ohne zuviel zu verraten?
Die erste Hälfte fand ich wirklich gut, die Asse waren in der Casting Show und mussten Aufgaben bewältigen. Nach und nach wählten die Gruppen Mitglieder raus, welche dann im "Loser"-Haus landeten. Allerdings lernte man manche Asse nur ganz oberflächlich kenn
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Katy Kennedy
Primero y en principal, lo que más me gustó de este libro y fue por eso que me lo compré, es que sale un poco de común y hasta es original el virus Wild Cards.

Quiero decir que siempre cuando nos imaginábamos a un humano transformándose en superhéroe era porque había caído en un barril de desechos tóxicos o porque había sido sometido a experimentos mortales con científicos y rayos radioactivos (sí, todas esas cosas de cómic). En Marvel o DC casi siempre era así, y si no, eran extraterrestres sali
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Andrew
This book brings back so many memories of University days and Forbidden Planet book shops - science fiction and fantasy was still a niche genre where specialty book stores could still survive before the days of internet shopping killed them off.
This was before the days of Game of Thrones, where George R R Martin was a name I remembered from the days of Beauty and the Beast TV shows (with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman - go on look it up). So when I saw this book cover I was instantly intrigued.
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P. Aaron Potter
On the one hand, the world needs more novels about spandex-clad super heroes. I realize it's a genre crossover, but so is a musical based on poetry about cats. Get on it, world.

In the meantime, we have this anthology (and its many, many sequels). Like any anthology, this is a mixed bag of success and not-so-much. As far as that goes, I think the stories generall get stronger as the temporal arc progresses. Each story takes place in a later year than the previous, and maybe because that means it'
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Sven Nomadsson
*Note: From my blog - http://worldwritsmall.wordpress.com/

I have heard so much about this series – superheroes and villains created by the release of an alien virus with but its only whims to determine who receives what power and even if they do. The fact that there were no discernible rules to what those powers could be or how grotesque the deformities could become offered a chance to really explore the nature of humans when faced with this new development.

And that’s what it felt like the serie
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George R. R. Martin was born September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies,
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More about George R.R. Martin...

Other Books in the Series

Wild Cards (1 - 10 of 23 books)
  • Aces High (Wild Cards, #2)
  • Jokers Wild (Wild Cards, #3)
  • Aces Abroad (Wild Cards, #4)
  • Down and Dirty (Wild Cards, #5)
  • Ace in the Hole (Wild Cards, #6)
  • Dead Man's Hand (Wild Cards, #7)
  • One-Eyed Jacks (Wild Cards, #8)
  • Jokertown Shuffle (Wild Cards, #9)
  • Double Solitaire (Wild Cards, #10)
  • Dealer's Choice (Wild Cards, #11)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

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