Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Aces Abroad (Wild Cards Volume IV) edited by George R R Martin

Review of Aces Abroad (Wild Cards Volume IV) edited by George R R Martin

While there are some downsides to them, I can’t helping loving long series of books. I started reading Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire a few years ago and was hooked, and, wanting read the rest of his ‘back catalogue’, I eventually got hold of a copy of the first Wild Cards book, entitled, er, Wild Cards. Aces Abroad, while not the best in the series so far, was still a very good read.

The problem with it was that it followed an extended junket by Senator Gregg Hartmann and other wild card virus-related notables to, well, everywhere. They travelled round the world visiting various countries to see what conditions the world’s jokers (people made into mutants by the virus) lived in. At the same time, various things go off in these countries: a peasant/joker uprising in Guatemala, a vampiric telepath in Haiti and so on. These subplots distracted from the main story. In fact, it’s more acurate to say that the main story was a series of subplots linked by the junket and its participants. Stuff happens by the end of the book, but it didn’t feel like a self-contained plot.

Despite this, I still found it a compelling read. It had that ‘I just want to read on a bit further to see what happens’ quality. The writing was solid, journeyman stuff – it may not have been poetic or devastatingly insightful, but it had a story to tell and it got on and did just that. Once again, the consistency of the book was remarkable, the writers and the editor pulling together to make it seem like all the various and differently-authored stories were part of a constistent whole. Although once again, Melinda Snodgrass was something of a weak link – the part of Aces Abroad she wrote was one of the most important in the book, and she wasn’t quite up to the task.

It seems clear that Martin et al are deliberately structuring the books and the series. Wild Cards itself was a kind of prologue to the whole project, volumes two and three, Aces High and Jokers Wild, constitute between them another phase of the story, as do Aces Abroad and Down & Dirty. The road trip format of the current book is an interesting device and shows a more marked division of responsibilities than the very smoothly constructed previous two ‘mosaic novels’.

One further commendation: while I usually try to vary my reading diet and not read two thing by the same author in quick succession for fear of getting weary of the same voice, I’m already halfway through book five (which makes sense, as it’s essentially the continuation of the story started in book four) in the series and have just ordered book six.

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Categories: Literature, Reviews
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