Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Jokertown Shuffle edited by George R R Martin

Review of Jokertown Shuffle edited by George R R Martin

Jokertown ShuffleThis, the ninth Wild Cards book, continues the story begun in One-Eyed Jacks, and it works a lot better, although still not as well as earlier volumes.

The main problem (as it was with book eight) is the structure: short stories worked perfectly for the original Wild Cards book because each story showed one episode from the 30 or 40 years of the Wild Cards virus’s existence; here, though, it makes the narrative disjointed. For instance, Archer, one of the main characters of the overall series, has his climactic final showdown with his arch enemy in the very first complete story of Jokertown Shuffle.

On the plus side, there are two stories split into numerous parts and distributed throughout the book. These are the stories dealing with the core of the plot – the development of the joker/jumper base on Ellis Island, and the conflict between Dr Tachyon and his malevolent grandchild, Blaise. Also falling into this category is the two-part ‘While Night’s Black Agents to Their Preys Do Rouse’ about Black Shadow, an ace who has barely performed on the Wild Cards stage up until now. Quite Batmanish, ‘Shad’ is probably the book’s strongest character.

One minor innovation in the book is that the nine-part story ‘The Temptation of Hieronymous Bloat’ is written in the first person. I don’t think this has been done before in the Wild Cards books. It works reasonably well, given that Bloat can read the minds of everyone within about a mile (some of these overheard thoughts are presented in three columns, suggesting their simultaneity). The first part – which opens the book – suggests that Bloat is keeping a journal of his thoughts – the events he recounts come with the benefit of hindsight; this effect isn’t kept up very consistently in the later parts.

On the whole, a reasonable effort. I’ve already started on book ten, Double Solitaire.

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