Monday, December 11, 2017

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/9

I have thoroughly run out of ways to open this weekly post, so now each Sunday I sit and stare blankly at a computer screen, hoping to think of another way to say the same thing once again. Eventually, I write something like this, and I can keep going. But I want to warn you that, some day, I might just give up and never be seen again.

But not this week!

This time out, I got one book in the mail, so I can tell you about that. It's Mississippi Roll, the twenty-fourth book in the long-running shared universe "Wild Cards" series. This one is credited as edited by George R.R. Martin, who has been running the whole shebang since 1987's Wild Cards. (Always, I think, aided to one degree or another by Melinda M. Snodgrass, whose credit appears and disappears semi-randomly.) Wild Cards is set in a universe where first contact was made soon after WW II in a rather unpleasant way: an alien spaceship set off a "gene bomb" that caused mayhem worldwide. If I remember the percents correctly, 90% of the people affected just died immediately. Then about 90% of the survivors were hideously deformed in one way or another, becoming "Jokers." About 1%, then, got at least somewhat useful superpowers and still looked like normal human beings. I'm not quite sure how new Jokers and Aces are created at this point in the timeline, sixty-some years later -- maybe the bomb created some endemic pockets of contamination that people stumble into, or if everyone now has some chance of Joker-izing or Ace-ificating at birth or puberty or whenever. But, in any case, this is a world with superheroes, and supervillains, and mutated freaks, and odder things, and has had them for three-plus generations by the start of this book.

Mississippi Roll starts up a new trilogy, which makes it a decent starting point. I personally read the first dozen or so -- all of the Bantam series, which descended into the usual shared-world problem of "my villain is even worse than yours!" iterated several times with body-swapping rapist fiends trying to conquer the world -- and petered out somewhere in that very dark period. I have no idea if the evil body-swapping has died down, but it's been close to two decades and ten more books, so I certainly hope so.

Anyway, this new one is a Tor hardcover and hit stores last week. I used to really like this series, and may dip back into it once again. Maybe you'd like it, too?

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