Review: Wild Cards

Wild Cards
Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Wild Cards: A Mosaic Novel" originated when editor George R.R. Martin created a game world for fellow writer friends, who contributed chapters. Juat 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, although their pilots died.
(2012 movie)
Commie bashing led to witch-hunts, black-listed and destroyed lives. Rock and roll music plus drugs strung out hippies. Politicians manipulated and deceived.
Surprisingly, no mention of the pill or women's organizations. Men desire, rescue, and destroy. Women are desired, rescued, and destroyed. One man Tychon, can do all three to one woman, Blythe the Brain Trust. Female characters appear at length only in chapters with such authors, vengeful rape victim subway car from Leanne Harper, primarily passive mistress roles, such as from Melinda Snodgrass. The latter behave explicitly, as does another lead Fortunato, a mixed-race pimp powered by Tantric yoga practices. Hence Hot shelf for whole book, possibly misleading. Put part P in V or M is like furniture assembly directions, weak non-plot. The worst books are only on the Read shelf.
My favorite episode is Martin's Turtle. A bullied geek grows into a beer swiller with an emerging paunch and telekinetic ability extra-strong, to fly a car. His childhood pal owns a junkyard and bullet-proofs a Volkswagen Beetle. They motivate alcohol-saturated mind-controller Tachyon, and all rescue a fragile kind lovely lady club-owner Angelface from multiple rape by corrupt cops. Second favorite would be the human Yeoman Hunter who takes down an evil Vietnamese crime lord and rescues exotic girl healer, where normal (highly-skilled) loner veteran overcomes vanishing villain and rejoins life. Sense a theme?
The initial premise of a wild card virus that induces abilities makes more sense without the alien origin. Why doesn't the planet of inventors call back for ongoing results of the experiment? The overall mood of the book is dark, the worst of the times and people, pain, perversion, pulp-fiction sleazy reputation confirmed. Since the sequel is about Aces, I may try a few pages seeking Star Trek style optimism. Or not.

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