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Fort Freak (Wild Cards #21)

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  434 ratings  ·  63 reviews

In 1946, an alien virus that rewrites human DNA was accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It killed ninety percent of those it infected. Nine percent survived, mutated into tragically deformed creatures. And one percent gained superpowers. The Wild Cards shared-universe series, created and edited by New York Times #1 bestseller George R. R. Martin (call

Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Tor Books
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Well, this was a pleasant surprise. After reading a less-than-impressive short story of Martin's in a zombie-themed collection, I have never really been interested in the stuff he would rather do than work on the behemoth flagship series that I am now convinced he secretly hates. But I had a signed copy of this fall into my lap a few years ago, and happened across it again recently, so I figured I’d give it a try. Despite my skepticism, I was hooked within a few pages, and stayed engaged the who ...more
The more Wild Cards books that I read, the more that I realize these are what the TV show Heroes wishes it could have been. I liked two out of three books of the re-launch trilogy, and those were books that were about the high-flying, high-powered aces who were off saving people in large numbers, and saving the world in turn.

Fort Freak reminds us there's more to the world than that. Here we are in Jokertown, a chunk of New York City that, in the Wild Cards universe, has come to be inhabited by a
Jul 12, 2014 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Serious series freaks
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
This relatively late installment in the long-running (and at least twice-rebooted) Wild Cards series won't make much sense if you're coming into it cold... there's a lot of previous (alternate) history here, with which your familiarity is simply assumed. If you're not even sure where Jokertown is, or why it'd be appropriate for its police precinct headquarters to be nicknamed "Fort Freak," then this is not the place to start finding out. In this review, I am also going to assume that you are alr ...more
Before we get anywhere - GRRM's name on the cover in giant letters is a cheap marketing trick. There are no stories by him here. I repeat, no stories from his pen appear in this book.
Also for some reason the title no longer has anything to do with card games...

Now that's outta the way, may I present Jokertown modern day: the gritty cop movie.

It pretty much takes all the usual tropes & pieces and puts them in. We got dirty cops, Detective few months away from retirement, rookie comin in, old
Unlike the previous volume I’d just read, ‘Fort Freak’ doesn’t follow the international Ace jetset all over the world. Rather, it is set entirely in Jokertown, New York and centres on the police precinct there. The tone was still thriller-ish, but with more of a noir mystery edge. It occurred to me whilst reading that I don’t notice the transitions between one writer and the next. The consistency is impressive. I enjoyed the focus on the police and the various crimes they had to deal with and th ...more
T.L. Barrett
I started reading The Wild Cards series with the first volume when I was thirteen years old. Except for three or four in the nineties, I've read them all. When I was thirteen I loved, loved, loved the shared world experience, the switching point of views and the somewhat more realistic take on superheroes (I've always been a huge comic book superhero fan). Back then I relished the tales about The Great and Powerful Turtle, The Sleeper, Golden Boy and all of the other Aces, that were the lucky on ...more
I remain amused that for a man who despises fanfic that George R.R. Martin continues to edit and contribute to the Wild Cards series. Basically the series grew out of Martin, and a group of fellow writers with whom he is friends, love of super heroes, a RPG they were playing, and he has made veiled comments that some of them were writing fanfic.

Fort Freak is not the strongest entry in the series. After the trilogy the previous three books provided we receive a stand alone that takes place entire

Fort Freak was a bit of a mixed bag for me--except for Paul Cornell's story, the writing was very consistent and fresh compared to previous volumes in the series. I appreciated the focus on Jokertown, there is a lot of good story and character to be mined in that relatively small area (considering the world-wide scope of the previous trilogy). I think Cornell is a very entertaining writer normally, but his story sticks out like a sore thumb and was tonally wrong for Fort Freak. He introduces som
John Patrick
I have to say that so far this has been my favorite of the Wild Cards books I have read. I only picked up the Wild Cards with the first novel of the most recent cycle (Inside Straight) but have enjoyed every book. Fort Freak is a departure from the previous three books which focused one Jonathan Fortune and the Hero's of the UN Association Task Force. This book takes us to Jokertown's 5th Precinct nicknamed Fort Freak. The book starts out with the story of Detective Leo "Ramshead" Storgman, just ...more
My only previous exposure to the Wild Cards series was through the short stories (really, selections) published in GRRM's Dreamsongs collections. I knew this was going to be a "mosaic novel" but what that actually meant didn't sink in till I was past the first chapter, at which point I began to fully appreciate GRRM's contribution to this book. It's one thing to edit a collection of short stories, but to have the vision to corral a bunch of sci-fi authors and have them work together to write a c ...more
...Fort Freak is written as a standalone and given the limited availability of the older books in the series, that makes sense. It can be read without having read any of the other volumes but I'm not sure it is a good point to enter the series. There are a lot of nods to other books in the series, and some characters have quite a history. Besides the aforementioned Father Squid, The Sleeper, originally a creation of Roger Zelazny, make an appearance for instance. This novel is a treat for those ...more
Jun 25, 2011 Hendel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
A few weeks ago, I was a bit let down by the latest Bordertown book, which I reviewed as stuck too much in the past, even as it tried to bring that setting into the present day.

Paradoxically, that's what I enjoyed most about Fort Freak - after the last several books featured an almost entirely new generation of Aces and Jokers involved in major events around the globe, this one goes back to where it started - New York, specifically Jokertown. There are plenty of new characters, but featured rol
I have to thank the woman at Jeanne Stein's book signing at Broadway Book Mall for turning me onto the Wild Card series. She assured me I could start at any point among the twenty-one books, so I began with the one she handed me, FORT FREAK, the latest.
The premise of the series is that an alien virus struck in 1946, killing 90% of the population, deforming others and giving a small percentage of the population superpowers.
FORT FREAK takes place in New York City's 5th Precinct, aka "Fort Freak"
Samuel Lubell
This book really held together as a mosaic novel. It is also a stand alone (within the Wildcard series) while many of the earlier volumes seemed bloated into trilogies. It was interesting that not all the cops were corrupt nor all good, but the precinct had some of both. It is also interesting to have a book focused on the jokers, one of the elements that makes the Wildcards series more than superhero stories.
Teodor Stefanov
The last Wild cards book for now,it is fun I should say,the story is intresting if not compelling.And shows some intresting traits and different angles of some of the most prominent and well known characters. The past present sequences sometimes were a bit confusing and some of the lose ends didnt sound completely solid but overall good addition to the wild cards lore. Cant wait for the next one maybe it will start a new 3 book arc.And Yeah I want to get my hands on Abraham"S, "when we were hero ...more
I really liked this volume of Wildcards.
The only part that disappointed me was Melinda Snodgrass' one on the first case of rookie cop Franny Black. It's a bit too goodie two-shoes and too easily wrapped up. much prefered Slim Jim's story in that regard.

On the whole though, the stories are good, especially Leo's quest to solve a long-dead case before it's too late. It gives some good insight into the characters.

One might accuse this book of following the usual tropes of police proedural fiction,
Sean Goh
I am still amazed that so many writers could come together to write stories set in the same town, focusing on different main characters, but all revolving around a compelling central storyline, with twists all over the place.

Even if one or two stories seem a bit out of place, one doesn't usually realise that there were so many authors.
Cynthianna /Celine Chatillon
If you love "freaks" and superheroes, then Fort Freak is the book for you! The police precinct is well-realized in a series of short stories from George R.R. Martin's Wild Card universe that have been melded together to form a novel. The writing is excellent (as are the authors who contributed to the tome), but it is a long book to read in one setting, which isn't for those who are becoming more accustomed to novella-length works in e-literature. Still, it's worth the read if only to figure out ...more
Clay Gediman
I had heard of the Wild Cards series before but hadn't read any of the books. It turned out to be a pretty good book and interesting enough to make me consider reading a few of the others in the series.
I have greatly enjoyed the previous four Wild Cards novels--they contained some of the best writing I've read in the past couple years. Maybe I would have liked this book more if I hadn't read the others, but I didn't feel Fort Freak lived up to the excellence of the others. This was written as a mystery, but I felt it lacked urgency. I was never made to care very much about the resolution of the mystery, nor made to feel that anything significant was riding on the outcome. The writing was good, ...more
Michael Clarke
Some good stories in here, along with some average stuff. The frame story isn't too bad, but my favourite piece of the book by far is the story centred around my favourite Wild Card character (Croyd Crensen), written by Paul Cornell, who was also responsible for a few memorable Dr Who episodes. Very clever dialog, and with a decidedly British take on things. Well worth the price of admission alone.
Nan Silvernail
Jokertown's Finest. From the newest Rookie to the Oldest Veteran facing retirement too soon, the Thin Blue Line could run straight here or have some nasty kinks and twists in it. The leaves of time change the scene as we head into fall and winter, but old sins cast long shadows. One case still bothers the old detective with the ram's horns on his head. A 30 year old massacre in a diner. Can he solve it before he retires? Thrown into the mix are old and young vigilantes, the mob and the gangs of ...more
Given the option, I'd call this one a 3.5. I've been reading the series since it first appeared, and this seems to be less cohesive than most of the others. I really enjoyed Cherie Priest's connecting story and Stephen Leigh's contributions, but on the other hand the big-tongued snake guy and the dancer didn't do much for me. Perhaps it's because most of the other books have concerned vast interstellar (or at least global) concerns, while this one is set firmly in a Jokertown police station, and ...more
Mark Webb
A couple of comments on my website in my monthly "books I've read" summary.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Maybe more like 3.5. I enjoyed this book and felt like it was a pretty good addition to the Wild Cards universe. It seemed much more faithful to the earlier books than some of the other recent books. (I should probably note that one of the contributors is vaguely an Internet acquaintance of mine, in that we frequent the same web site and are somewhat aware of each other's existence, but I was thinking this before I got to his story.)

There were some minor errors, like a guy being Eddy in one para
Although this dragged a little in the last couple of chapters, I put this down to being exhausted rather than the lack of quality of writing.
Yes, I enjoyed this anthology of stories which all intersected with each other at various points, set in an alternate universe where some have strangeness thrust upon them, some have been spared the virus that has made some half animal and half human, and some have remained as they were born.
'Fort Freak' is the NYPD section house that tries to maintain law
Mark Weathington
First I have to say this was a desperation purchase in an international airport with limited selection of English titles. Despite that, it was not a bad book. It is a collaborative book written by various authors as part of a long running series set in an alternate US where an alien virus often mutates people in unpredictable ways and/or gives them special powers. Like all books of this collaborative nature, it does not flow terribly well and is told from multiple viewpoints and in multiple styl ...more
Jeremy Preacher
Unlike the first two collections, Fort Freak is more or less a novel with a linear plot, albeit one written by a whole collection of authors. Some of the segments are better than others, of course, but the uncomfortable look at a dirty police station in the Joker's ghetto is pretty effective, and the cold-case main plot stayed interesting and more or less unexpected all the way through. I'm not going to lose sleep hunting up the whole Wild Cards series, but I'm happy to work my way through them ...more
I was looking for something else by George RR Martin to tide me over til the next Game of Thrones book comes out... I was disappointed to realize that this series is only edited by Martin. There are lots of contributors each writing a short story that contributes to the whole. It is a really interesting new world-building and it did suck me in - but still left me vaguely disappointed. Maybe if I had not had that image in my mind I would have been more satisfied, might check out some of the other ...more
Douglas MacKenzie
Unreadable. Lasted 3 pages.
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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,
More about George R.R. Martin...
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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