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Wild Cards I (Wild Cards #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  7,519 Ratings  ·  596 Reviews
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 m
ebook, 496 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Tor Books (first published 1986)
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Sep 20, 2013 Carol. rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Sep 21, 2016 Claudia marked it as not-my-cup-of-coffee  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Started this one out of curiosity when I heard it will be turn into a TV show:

From my POV, I think the movie/show will be better than the book. Also, had it been a graphic novel, I would have enjoyed it better, I guess. But as a book, is too cartoon-ish and I wasn't drawn into it. Maybe will try another in the series at some other time...
An Odd1
Sep 15, 2013 An Odd1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xrate
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
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
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
Nov 23, 2010 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Osrednji horor krimić čiji su protagonisti ljudi i vukodlaci
Očekivao sam više od Martina
May 19, 2011 Sath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 01, 2012 J.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, superheroes
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
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
Gregor Xane
Jan 26, 2013 Gregor Xane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Mar 30, 2012 Shelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
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
Travis of NNY
I thought this collection started very strong and was sucked in. The problem is, for me, I felt the stories were a bit too similar to where rather than feeling like multiple short stories it turned into one long story. I like the way they held to the common theme so closely and made all the stories intertwine with each other to a certain extent. So a contradiction going on here? Maybe. Or perhaps the real issue was the audio was done entirely by Luke Daniels. Luke is a fantastic narrator, but I ...more
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
Kat  Hooper
Dec 12, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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,
Oct 06, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The concept alone deserves three stars solely on merit...a bunch of nerdy literary types gather around a table-top game about superpowered people and decide to write a short story collection about the concept. The idea of an alien virus being released over Manhattan is quickly devised and all hell breaks loose. This ain’t no kinda Golden Age of Comics type vibe however, as the stories often feature gross violence and weird sex and weird violence and gross sex. Honestly, who in their right mind w ...more
Jul 25, 2013 Katerina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recensioni
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
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
Jesse Lehrer
Jul 23, 2013 Jesse Lehrer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. More reason to dislike Martin and most male sci-fi authors. Under the pretense of a "realistic" take on superheroes male authors yet again manage to equate reality with lots of rape and prostitutes and passive women who need men to survive. This isn't reality. These authors have serious emotional problems. Whether it's Martin, most of the authors in this book, Heinlein, Frank Miller, etc. it's always the same. Their talent is just drowned in their own pathetic insecurities written on every ...more
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
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.
May 15, 2015 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
*Note: From my blog -

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
Niall Teasdale
Apr 22, 2015 Niall Teasdale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: superhero
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
Sep 26, 2011 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was actually by George R.R. Martin, but he's just the editor. As such the stories are uneven in quality and tone, but that's expected from a collection. The overwhelming creepiness of an accident that afflicts Manhattan in September from the air pervades the collection, but doesn't really add anything.

As with Martin's other work, the female characters are less interesting, and fewer and father-between, which doesn't make much sense, since the affliction of the Wild Card virus is s
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.
They marketed this as a superhero collection but it's more of an alternate history. As with any collection it is a bit uneven. Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan was my favorite, like Adventures in Babysitting if it were Kitty Pryde of the X-Men as the babysitter. Ironically that was not one of the original stories.
Interesting premise but ultimately boring. The stories were too long and filled with male characters I couldn't care less about.

I should've known better... what else did i expect from 80s fantasy??? I only have myself to blame for being drawn in by GRRM and the hope of good, morally ambiguous superhero content. I might give this series another chance sometime....
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Wild Cards (1 - 10 of 26 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)
  • Wild Cards: Graphic Novel
  • One-Eyed Jacks (Wild Cards, #8)
  • Jokertown Shuffle (Wild Cards, #9)
  • Double Solitaire (Wild Cards, #10)

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