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Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1)

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  8,862 Ratings  ·  708 Reviews
Just after World War 2 over New York City, an alien virus transforms human genetics and goes recessive to create super heroes and villains. Most victims die, others experience physical or psychic changes: aces have useful powers, deuces minor maybe entertaining abilities, jokers uglified, disabled, relegated to ghettos.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by iBooks (first published 1986)
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Mark Lawrence
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A kind editor pointed GRRM my way when he decided to have a Wild Cards book set in the UK and wanted more British authors on board. Actually as a dual national I'm half American, but I've spent 90%+ of my life here.

Anyway, Wild Cards is a franchise spanning 30+ years in real time and 60+ years in book time, and sprawls over 23 (& counting volumes).

The good thing is that although all that alternate history and the cast of characters are there to be used, most of the books (all of which compri
...more
Carol.
Sep 20, 2013 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
TL
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series first came to my attention with the free short story on Tor.com, "The Thing About Growing Up in Jokertown"
Read my review of it
here if you like.
---

At the time I read the above short story and was adding Fort Freak to my wishlist, I hadn't realized it was a series (wasn't paying attention, oops).. and was a little wary of how many books there were but decided to give it a shot anyways.

Very glad I did :).

Many people are fascinated by superpowers/superheroes (Xmen, Wonder Woman, Superm
...more
Varlan Georgian
Sa fie 2,5 stele, sunt vreo trei povestiri care ar merita chiar mai mult.
Jim
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Claudia
Sep 20, 2016 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: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

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...
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.
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
...more
Paul
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
An Odd1
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
...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
...more
Beth The Vampire
At the end of the second world war, in 1946, an alien virus (later called the wild card virus) is released into the atmosphere above New York. Some of the population are killed, others are given extraordinary powers (aces) and horrible curses (jokers). Jokers, usually horribly disfigured, are thrown away by society and left to wallow in Jokertown; where crime and violence is rampant. Meanwhile some aces become 'superheroes,' fighting for the innocent and downtrodden, while others use their super ...more
Sud666
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Wild Cards is not written by G.R.R. Martin. Not all of it. He created the world surrounding this story, but this is an anthology of stories set in his Wild Card setting. Now you will be treated to one short story and a few Interludes from G.R.R. Martin- but the vast majority of this book is written by a variety of authors. As with any anthology the quality of the stories varies. For the most part I enjoyed them. There was really only one (Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan) that I didn't like.

So what i
...more
J.M.
Dec 01, 2010 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
Gregor Xane
Jan 12, 2013 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
...more
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
...more
Ana  Vlădescu
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
...more
Klodovik2
Sep 30, 2016 added it
Shelves: odustao
Osrednji horor krimić čiji su protagonisti ljudi i vukodlaci
Očekivao sam više od Martina
Sath
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jesse Lehrer
Jul 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
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
Shelly
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
...more
Terence
Aug 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The introduction was ok, but for me everything fell apart after that point. The first story after that of Jetboy was extremely painful for me so I tried to jump ahead to the one from GRRM, but I didn't enjoy that one any more than the first.
Joe
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...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
...more
Travis sivarT
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
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.
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
...more
Kat  Hooper
Nov 26, 2011 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,
...more
Nate
Jun 21, 2014 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
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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
More about George R.R. Martin...

Other Books in the Series

Wild Cards (1 - 10 of 25 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)
“some capers you have to pull, whether you want to or not.” 2 likes
“Don’t be such a coward, Mark, he told himself. This is for science.” 0 likes
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