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Inside Straight edited by George R.R. Martin

Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 at 6:56pm

The Wild Cards franchise returns in a big way with the first novel in a trilogy edited by fantasy legend George R.R. Martin. Martin has assembled some great names to contribute to the relaunch of one of the longest running shared worlds in the genre.

I was hesitant about this one before I started reading it. I hadn't read any of the Wild Cards books before, but I have read super hero novels. If you are worried about getting someone's take on Batman here, think again. Even in the best of the admittedly small genre of superhero prose fiction, the novels tend to suffer from an ironic postmodern commentary. You can't help but watch the authors Nudging and winking the reader about how clever they are through the entire narrative. If are familiar with comics and superheros this gets very irritating, very fast. If you are not familiar, the cleverness is lost on you.

Not so with Inside Straight. This is a great novel collaborated on by skilled science fiction and fantasy authors who love superheros, and are telling you great stories. Inside Straight was worth it for George R.R. Martin's chapter on the german hero Lohengrin alone. Though Daniel Abraham certainly deserves a commendation for his creation, Jonathan Hive, a blogger who can turn his body into wasps.

Inside Straight is structured around the reality television show American Hero. Four groups of Aces and Jokers (the Wild Cards term for those with super powers) compete against each other to win the fame and money the shows producers are dangling in front of them. However as more and more contestants join the Discard Pile (card puns abound) they find it impossible to ignore the conflict in the Middle East where the restored Caliphate is flexing its muscles.

The Wild Cards universe began in 1986, and Martin has been involved since its inception. For more information check out George R.R. Martin's website or the official Wild Cards site.

Categories: Reviews, SciFi & Fantasy

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