Wild Cards Collections

Has anyone read any of these collections of short stories with, your friend and mine, George R.R. Martin as editor? A new one was released in September and I almost went back and picked up the first one today. The setting for the stories seemed cool: A world of Super Heroes and Freaks that began just after WWII.

I figure the stories are hit and miss, but I am having trouble finding the time for a full novel. That may be because of what I am reading, though. Book 2 in the Second Thomas Covenant Trilogy. I love all the TC books I have read, but I am either burned out or my brain hurts from words like “etiolate”.

I got very tired of the Wild Card series after the first couple of books. I kept buying them hoping that the better authors like Zelazny would do something good, but as usually happens, the series got practically taken over by what I consider to be inferior writers, and the better ones lost interest.

Not that it’s a big deal, but I found it annoying that they felt they had to make the same historic things happen more or less as they did in the real world. It is obvious that an alien attack, global plague, and the presence of superheroes and mutants with such bizarre powers would utterly mangle and distort not only historical events but culture and humanity itself in ways far more pervasive than described in the stories. I guess you can consider it a basic assumption of the series, but I still didn’t like it.

Once they got into that whole pedophile The One thing (or whatever it was, it was a long time ago) I really got sick of it and gave up. Who is the genius who thought that storyline would be entertaining for people who want to read about superheroes? In fact the whole series is really pretty morbid and depressing, which is really wrong for stories about superheroes. Apparently most of the writers and readers agreed with my assessment of that plot element, too, because I think that is about where the series ended, wasn’t it? Anyway, I say good riddance to it.

The only shared world series I think didn’t go south very quickly was that Liavek one, probably because the writers were all (or mostly) close friends in the same writing group, and the writers didn’t just throw in new plots and characters without consultation.

Thieves World, which started the trend a long time ago, was a good example of a series that went totally to hell when completely new and alien plot elements were wantonly added, though really it wasn’t even all that good to begin with, IMO. The recent 40-years-later novel, by, uhh, uhh, Lynn Abbey (I think), however, is not all that bad. Lynn Abbey happens to be the best writer in that crew anyway.

Thanks for your impressions. Dark, morbid, and depressing sounds good sometimes and as you said superhero stuff usually does not go that way so it might be something different I would like.

I think I read somewhere that after 7 years they released one this past September, but do not quote me on that. I probably will check the used bookstore next time I go. $14.00 seems kinda pricy for a paperback version of an older series. I guess someonne is still buying them. :)


I read this series when it first came out and really enjoyed books 1-3, 6 and the last three. I thought 6 was the best, but that’s because two of my favorite characters were the stars. The series did slide into a gloom and doom tract, with real depravity in some of the events. I would not recommend reading them all at once as that would probably be tough to wade through.

The Astronomer was one creepy villain though.