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Wild Cards I  By  cover art

Wild Cards I

By: George R. R. Martin - editor
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
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Publisher's summary

In the aftermath of WWII, an alien virus struck the Earth, endowing a handful of survivors with extraordinary powers. Originally published in 1987, the newly expanded saga contains additional original stories by eminent writers.

©1986, 2010 George R.R. Martin (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

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A Brilliant, if Imperfect, Beginning

I love comics, I love superheroes, and now I love Wild Cards.

This novel is essentially a collection of short stories all taking place in the Wild Cards universe. Because this is an anthology written by multiple authors the stories within have varying levels of quality. But I still enjoyed all them even if I did enjoy some more than others.

Knowing some of the history about the book deeply improves the enjoyment of the read because it explains why this first novel is presented in the format it is. Originally, Martin and his fellow writers wanted a trilogy of superhero books based on their roleplaying sessions of the game Superworld, that would take place in the 1980's. They invited author Howard Waldrop to write a story for this trilogy and he agreed, saying he had wanted to write a story for some time that would fit into this universe. Thus the first story "Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!" was written.

But this story takes place in 1946! The Wild Cards novels would take place a whole 40 years later and surely a lot would happen in this gap of time. But Waldrop was firm on the time placement, stating to take it or leave it if they wanted his story in the novel. So it was taken and the first novel became not a superhero story about fighting villains or aliens, but an abridged history of the Wild Cards universe from 1946 to the early 80s. The move to make the first novel a history of the universe was used to set the stage for later novels, introduce some characters and plotlines to come, and provide bullet points of the history of early Wild Cards history in short story form. But the novel is still largely enjoyable and, even though I have yet to read the other yet, I would argue is essential to understand later novels in the series.

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