Read Jokers Wild by George R.R. Martin Online


The streets of New York have erupted in celebration of Wild Card Day -- the annual event held every September 15th to remember the dead and cherish the living. It is a day for fireworks and street fairs and parades, for political rallies and memorial banquets, for drinking and fighting in the alleys. With each passing year, the festivities become larger and more fevered. AThe streets of New York have erupted in celebration of Wild Card Day -- the annual event held every September 15th to remember the dead and cherish the living. It is a day for fireworks and street fairs and parades, for political rallies and memorial banquets, for drinking and fighting in the alleys. With each passing year, the festivities become larger and more fevered. And this year -- 1986, the fortieth anniversary -- promises to be the biggest and best Wild Card Day ever. The media and tourists have discovered the celebration, and taverns and restaurants expect record-setting business. But lurking in the background is a twisted genius who cares nothing for fun and festivity. The Astronomer has only one concern: destruction......

Title : Jokers Wild
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743434898
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 528 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jokers Wild Reviews

  • Nathan Burgoine
    2019-03-12 02:35

    The third book in the "Wild Cards" series by George R.R. Martin (editor), this is a "shared world" series, where various authors get together and write in the same world. The world is one where an alien virus was dumped into the air shortly after WWII, and still randomly infects people nearly forty years later.The virus - called the Wild Card for its very random results - proliferated in earth's atmosphere. First, nine in ten people who contract the Wild Card virus "draw the Queen of Spades," and die. Of the survivors, nine in ten people "draw a Joker," and end up hideously disfigured. Of the non-Joker survivors, some draw a "deuce," and get a power or ability that's pretty much useless ("I can change my hair colour at will!"), but many who survive as non-jokers "draw an Ace," and gain super-powers. The massively telekinetic Turtle, the projective teleporter Popinjay (who I really liked in this book), the any-lizard shapeshifter Kid Dinosaur - these are some of the Aces. They're solid, fun to read, and quite well drafted.This story all takes place in one day, and the novel is very well sewn together (especially given the different tones and styles of the various authors) and has a very complicated and complex interwoven plot. Kudos to Martin for wrapping it up so well.This forty years later is the anniversary and what is likely to be the largest "Wild Card Day" celebration ever - except one recurring villain is using this day to kill off all the Aces who bested him in the previous books... Who will survive?As Martin is well known for in his "A Song of Fire and Ice" series - there are no holds barred in these books - heroes die. And horribly. Very solid stuff.

  • Anna
    2019-02-28 00:51

    A different format than before - the chapters are divided by HOURS & then all PoV characters shuffle thru that particular slice of time, It honestly does the overall book no favors as each person's writing style occasionally clashes painfully24hours: Wild Card Day (lets celebrate 40th anniversary of virus release!). A few seemingly random events ("oriental" syndicate VS local italian mafia turf war, mcguffin theft & one joker's revenge) drag plenty of Aces and Jokers into it as those major plots overlap & tangle everyone upWould have liked it more if there was waaaay less Fortunato. Just.. there are freakin' annoying characters & then there's that asshole. Bagabond's parts were alright when with Sewer Jack, but booooring with Rosemary (her plot was lame)Wraith plotline needed less of the book practically tripping over itself reminding us of her black string bikini (alright, we get it! even when near passing out from lack of energy teh girl will still keep that part of clothes on) ... and ... err.. Tachion/Roulette plot was a thing..

  • Maria Kramer
    2019-03-07 00:48

    This is the book that lost me. The writing is I know there are multiple authors, so I might pick it up in the future, but this volume was so clunky and erratic. Could not keep going.

  • Fantasy Literature
    2019-02-28 23:56

    Another Wild Cards romp!

  • Francis
    2019-03-05 07:47

    This book got better and better as it went on. Unlike the first two Wild Cards books, this one takes place over the course of one day...the fortieth anniversary of the Wild Card virus. Whereas the first two books had each individual author write their own short story about the events, this one was broken into the hours of the day with each author contributing his or her own part. Crazy editing must have been needed to make the book make sense!!There were about seven primary characters the book focused on. It took a while to really get into who was who again, and who had what power. Once I figured that out, the book was much more fun to read. Looking forward to reading the next volume!

  • Sara Lilkas
    2019-03-24 02:56

    2.5/5 I think the what initially threw me off was the difference in formatting from the previous Wild Card books. I think part of the problem was the different writing styles didn't always flow together in my opinion. However with all the Wild Card books once the action picked up at the end I couldn't put it down, it was just getting to the end that was challenging.

  • Shawne
    2019-02-27 01:38

    If Aces High (Wild Cards #2) presented Earth's fledging new aces and jokers with an external menace in the form of a giant alien Swarm, Jokers Wild drags the action back to this stratosphere and pins it very firmly to the ground. The threats faced by the protagonists in this novel are all painfully, recognisably human - whether or not these threats have been twisted into monsters by the wild card virus. Jokers Wild unequivocally makes clear that the potential for great evil and corruption exists in anyone, and sometimes that malevolence is enhanced out of all proportion - whether by masses of ill-gotten gains, or through a spectacular range of psychic powers bequeathed by the Takisian virus.The novel is made up of several strands of stories woven together into a surprisingly coherent whole - many different characters set out to accomplish many different goals (some to escape/destroy the villainous Astronomer from the previous novel, others to work their way through the tangled web of conspiracy and corruption that surrounds uber-criminal mastermind Kien). The ghostly Wraith starts the ball rolling by stealing some extremely valuable notebooks, but eventually the paths of all the characters cross as they hunt or are hunted by the Astronomer. Characters earlier introduced all return, like Bagabond and Jack, Fortunato, Tachyon and Hiram Worchester, the deceptively portly proprietor of Aces High.If that sounds like a rather vague description, it's because there really isn't much point to my attempting to summarise each character's storyline - there are probably at least eight major character perspectives contained within this mosaic novel, all of which interweave with one another as the action, stakes and power balance shift across Manhattan and among players. All of this mayhem unspools over a period of just twenty-four hours - in fact, over the fortieth Wild Card Day anniversary - so, as you can imagine, the pace of the narrative is fairly brisk.Jokers Wild is a true testament to Mr Martin's talents as an editor - the first two novels comprised individual stories written by various authors, compiled more or less chronologically, with connecting material created (as necessary) by Martin himself. With this novel, he artfully slices up the various stories written by his stable of collaborators and skilfully weaves these threads into an unexpectedly smooth narrative that flows and ebbs with its own dramatic pace and style.If the climax seems a little too pat and disproportionate to the build-up throughout the entire book, there's still much to enjoy in Jokers Wild - mostly in getting the chance to delve deeper into the lives and minds of some of these wonderfully complex characters. The insights provided into Demise's power and motivations are both gruesome and intriguing, and it's great fun to learn more about Aces High, its traditions and clientele from the very proper Mr Worchester.If you still feel this review is rather vague, I'm afraid I can't help you there for fear of spoilers - but rest assured that Jokers Wild is a good, punchy, FUN addition to the series that rewards fans without being too confusing for newcomers.

  • Teàrlach
    2019-03-07 06:36

    This instalment was somewhat better than the last one. I liked that the action of the novel (which was still written by several authors so I'm shelving it as an anthology to keep with the spirit of the series thus far) took placed over 24 hours; I liked that 24 hours was enough time for several storylines to begin and conclude, and for justice to be served to some extent. That's not to say there was nothing wrong with the book. If that was the case, it would have at least 4 stars. I don't, have the time to get into all the issues I had with Jokers Wild, but here is my main complaint: the treatment of women, an issue which seems to span the entire book series. I can't think of a single important, or at least named, female character, who wasn't thought of in some half-predatory sexual manner by the male characters, or who wasn't reduced to an object in some way or another due to her status as uterus bearer. In fact, one female character seems to be driven purely by her reproductive needs at the moment (Suzanne/Bagabond), and another's arc was all about losing the monstrous baby she gave birth to, and also about literally releasing neurotoxins from her vagina during sex and thus killing her sexual partners.To add to that, older male characters "catch themselves wondering" about whether at least two female characters (barely legal girls, if that) are still virgins, which is one of the skeeviest things I can imagine. Another character can ghost her way through solid matter and walks around wearing a black bikini because she can't ghost the rest of her clothes with her. That this draws a lot of sexual comments from other characters isn't surprising in the least; what I want to know is why she was constructed in this way to begin with. An author, a real person, made the decision to have her walk around almost naked for the better part of 24 hours, and I simply have to question the motivation of that.There was also more ritual deathsex, and it was as gross as the deathsex scene from the previous volume. I really could have done without that. Fortunato was also as creepy as he normally is, so there was nothing new there. On a sidenote, the Wild Cards series leads me to believe about half of New York is involved in the sex trade. I can't explain all the pimps and prostitutes and weird sexual incidents otherwise.On the other hand, Popinjay was an excellent character, funny and clever and written very well. It's why I gave the book 2 stars in the first place. He's just not enough to keep me reading this series beyond the one other volume I have - I thought I only had the first three, but I apparently also have a copy of Inside Straight that I got for free from my local bookstore. After I read that one, I think I'll put this series on hold.

  • Alytha
    2019-03-19 00:57

    This one takes place during the 24 hours around Wild Card Day, on the forthieth anniversary of the release of the Wild Card virus.It continues the Mason storyline from the last volume. After the aces tore their headquarters apart at the end of the last volume, The Astronomer swears bloody revenge on everybody involved, through his followers Roulette, who can kill men through releasing a poison during sex, and who has a grudge against Tachyon, because she had a joker baby, who also destroyed her marriage, and Demise, who also has a grudge against Tachyon, because he brought him back from the dead, and he always feels the pain of dying. Thus, Roulette is set on Tachyon, while Demise somehow manages to lose his boss' good graces and becomes hunted himself.In another plotline, the ace Wraith, who call walk through walls, steals some notebooks from the safe of a Vietnamese businessman. That wouldn't be so much of a problem if said businessman wasn't also high up in the mafia. As different parties find out about the books, she is hunted across the city, and eventually comes across Brennan, who does not commit any crimes against the noble art of archery in this volume.The books themselves are also lost, stolen, hidden, eaten and recovered countless times throughout the story.Another storyline is about Rosemary, the mafia daughter doubling as assistant DA, a telepathic bag lady, and Jack, who turns into a big alligator sometimes. While generally supporting Rosemary in her bid to become the new Don, they also get drawn into the whole business with the books. Meanwhile, Jack is also looking for his niece, who ran away from home (and of course runs into all the wrong people throughout the day)Still meanwhile, Hiram, the owner of the restaurant Aces High, is trying to organise his annual dinner despite the thread of the mafia, and The Astronomer threatening to blow up the party.I didn't like this one quite as much. The Rosemary storyline wasn't that interesting and didn't appear to be of that much importance in the big picture, and I find Bagabond extremely irritating. The whole Wraith thing was also too drawn out, and getting a bit ridiculous, as every ace, joker and their dog get drawn into it.Something else I really hate them for is killing Kid Dinosaur (and, possibly even worse, admitting that he was only created as cannonfodder in this volume). Damn you, GRRM!!! :p(At least the Turtle came back. The attack on him was pretty horrifying)In general though, although there were some annoying elements, this book is easily readable and entertaining. 7/10 in general.

  • Mark
    2019-03-07 02:30

    So let's say you take everything that's cool from the first couple of Wild Cards books, like people discovering their new powers, the world getting a handle on people having new powers, the assorted social commentary that comes along with a new class of people who aren't understood, people with awesome powers fending off ALIEN INVASIONS... ... and fucking forget all of it because instead we're just going to spend a whole book where seemingly half of the pages are spent on people whose powers literally involve having sex with people. Both of these naturally involve embarrassingly poor sex scene descriptions, like the actual kind of awful shit that belongs in mockery of romance novels. One that stands out and that I wish I could forget involved some kind of comparison of a sexual act to a horse, but not in like a "He was a wild stallion, BABY" way that would make me roll my eyes but not actively be revolted. Instead it somehow involved a comparison to a newborn foal trying to nuzzle into its mother. Just don't ever write stuff like this. Jesus.So yeah, you've got Fortunato whose power derives from being a pimp who has a lot of sex with a lot of people, Roulette whose power derives from killing people while she's having sex with them, and Dr. Tachyon, missing everything that made him cool in the first book, who instead just goes around having a lot of sex as a way to handle his guilt.This should have been cool, because it's Joker Mardi Gras on Wild Card Day, the 40th anniversary of the unleashing of the Wild Card virus. How can you go wrong with that premise? This book is the answer to how you go wrong with that premise. My favorite aces like Croyd and the Turtle only appear for a couple of pages, and the side plots are frankly far more interesting than anything to do with the main plot of the Astronomer trying to get revenge on a bunch of aces, because again, this involves the entirety of all of the weird sex ace powers. Stop with weird sex ace powers.I really enjoyed the first Wild Cards book, and parts of the second were also good, but I'm coming to understand why these things were largely consigned to obscurity before people realized there was money to be made from reprinting old George R. R. Martin-connected material.

  • Rob
    2019-03-03 23:35

    ...That being said, the novel does show some of the shortcomings of a work with so many authors. In depth characterization is mostly absent and here and there, fault lines in the style of writing are noticeable. Martin has done a wonderful job in editing it so the very compressed time line of the novel makes sense however. It must have been particularly challenging to get everything to fit in just a twenty-four hour time span. It's not the most challenging reading material but it is fast and fun and hard to put down once you've started. I don't think it is quite as good as either Aces High or Fort Freak but a decent entry in the series nonetheless. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Tor reissue some more of the older Wild Cards books.Full Random Comments review

  • Andrew
    2019-02-22 23:37

    This book like the others before is part of the shared Wild cards universe however here it is credited ti George R R Martin. The book consists of a series of short stories by various authors with various styles and characters but all sharing (in varying degrees) a common thread, and this is where I think the hidden strength of the Wild Card series really lies. You get to see individual styles and characters being given full and centre stage while still feeling there is a commonality to the book. Yes there is a storyline here which I struggle not to give away in spoilers but also there are the lesser characters here too. There is the start of a story arc here but for now have fun with the Jokers and Aces and see where it takes you

  • Olethros
    2019-02-28 01:30

    -Más novela coordinada, por fin.-Género. Ciencia-Ficción.Lo que nos cuenta. El día del cuadragésimo aniversario del Día Wild Card, el despiadado villano conocido como el Astrónomo comienza su plan de venganza y destrucción que implica terminar con los héroes que abortaron su último plan. El submundo de la delincuencia de Nueva York está inquieto y sus actividades se relacionan, de cierta manera, con el ataque de el Astrónomo. Tercer libro de la serie Wild Cards.¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

  • Fantasy Literature
    2019-03-21 01:56

    3.5 starsAnother Wild cards romp!

  • Jasper
    2019-02-23 07:46

    originally posted at: Wild Cards series has been on my to read list for quiet some time now, I haven't read the first book in the series yet but jumped right into the fray with Inside Straight the 18th book in the series. It was the only book available at the time. Tor "rebooted" the series back in 2008 with Inside Straight but the first book Wild Cards goes back as far as 1986! I encountered these books when I was searching for new superhero books and was more than pleased with the outcome. Recently I read Dangerous Women which featured a short story that really rekindled my need to read more of this amazing universe of superheroes. It's definitely not the superheroes you have come to know from the D.C comics or Marvel. For me this is actually much, much better!!Besides the new books in the Wild Cards universe, the "Tor Revival" that will see Lowball published later this summer, they are also reprinting the earlier books that were originally released by Bantam press. Hooray for us! Each year a new book will feature, I do hope they will make this into perhaps two or even three a year, else the wait will be too long... (hint). Jokers Wild is the third book in the series and the first conclusion of a trilogy, books four, five and six make up the second and so forth all going to the twenty-first book. The Wild Card universe is made up of the following premise. An alien virus better known as the Wild Cards virus was released upon Earth in 1946, this virus has the ability to change the DNA of humans. The majority of the people that come into contact with this virus see their life forfeit and only a small percentage have their cards turned in a favorable way becoming an Ace, one that has significant superpowers. Some that have their cards turned in a less favorable way are known as Jokers, they become hideous creatures, disformed and the likes. Not all superpowers will turn you into an Ace, your powers can also be useless not contributing to anything and will leave you marked as a Deuce. Picking up directly after the events of Aces High, Jokers Wild sums up the first two books with a big clash. The Astronomer's plans have been countered by a set a brave Aces in the earlier books and he has had enough. The Astronomer is out on revenge and wants to get rid of all the Aces that saw his plans fall in the water. He is particularly keen on revenge on the Ace Fortunato. Fortunato is one of the most powerful Aces out there and the same goes for the Astronomer. This final showdown all takes place on the most memorable day for many Jokers and Aces: Wild Card Day, the day where everyone stands still to remember those that have perished and celebrate the living, and the one that has a special place here is the famous Jetboy, who sacrificed himself to stop the Wild Card virus from spreading. Anyway the Astronomer is out for revenge and he will get it, whatever the cost. Accompanying the Astronomer are Roulette and Spector/Demise. Though Spector's relation to the Astronomer is with some reluctance. This part of the Astronomer is just one of many different storylines that you follow throughout Jokers Wild, there are many more and the first is set into motion by an Ace known as the Wraith, Jennifer Maloy, who steals a very valuale set of notebooks from a gangster known as Kien, one that could bring him down and the Wraith hasn't thought about these consequences. Another one is that of Sewer Jack who searches for his lost niece, this storyline features another Ace, Bagabond, one that I really enjoyed reading about. And certainly last but not least, Ace Hiram Worchester is prepping his diner for the Wild Card Day celebration. There are indeed many leads pursued in Jokers Wild and when I first found out that these Wild Cards books are written by many different authors I did have some reservations since every author does have its own style. But here is a really nice working of George R.R. Martin's skills he seemlesslt weaves the whole story in to one part, the story flows naturally, ace work!Superheroes come in many different forms and in Joker's Wild and the Wild Cards series, they are something else than what you have come to see in the current media. Or at least I am of that opinion. They seem to be much much more. With the advent of many more movies in the making I feel that the focus of many of today's heroes lies with making everything as flashy and cool as possible. In the Wild Cards series, this is to a certain degree also the case however for I think it doesn't only lie in showing how tough the Aces are but there is also a great emphasis on the character interactions, maybe even going as far as saying that it is heavy on the emotional side and personal relations. This is an aspect that I really like to see explored and the best thing in Joker's Wild is that is doesn't follow the usual cliches. Does this make Jokers Wild a cuddly kind of story? Far from it. There is a great build up from the beginning towards the ending of the story with action and tension only further increasing. There are some scenes in the beginning of the book that mainly focus on the Wraith that show a nice rapid fire action, and with her powers only make it that much cooler. After the action packed introduction the story does focus more on layering the different storylines and telling where the story currently stands, only being thrown in a different rapid once the Astronomer takes it place in the center and Fortunato trying to stop him. When the action does take place and the aces start to unleash their powers it is the kind of flashy display that is rightly suited for the bigger screen. The powers of the different Aces aren't storyboard and show a high creativeness in first being thought of and secondly how they are being used. I was very intrigues on many parts by the Ace Hiram Worcherster and what he can do, pretty awesome. But also the relation between the Astronomer and Fortunato, where one is death and the other is life and how they draw their strengths and lets not forget Tachyon, the alien who can do some pretty cool things, but one that I was perhaps most impressed with was Demise, who has a wicked power, but his character goes through some very fine developments and the struggle accompanied make him a well rounded character. Jokers Wild is a solid conclusion to the first trilogy of the Wild Cards universe. It is a fine display of building up and finally delivering a strong and pretty heated closing of the story, well this first one... because there are 19 other books that make up the remained of this series! The Astronomer is one of the baddest bad guys that I have read about in superhero fiction, I found myself almost shouting to Fortunato and his friend to kick his ass! He is nasty. The ending of the book really surprised me, especially with the mention that Fortunato is one of the most powerful Aces, it might seem a bit anticlimactic, but it's very cool (no I wont spoil the ending, it's put a smile on your face I dare to reckon). Jokers Wild and the whole Wild Cards isn't you standard run of the mill comic book superhero story and perhaps you can see a bit of the old style writing in Jokers Wild since the book does date back from the 1980's and when I compare it to Inside Straight the latter is just a bit more catchy in writing style, BUT this doesn't take away that this is an awesome book and should be read by everyone. George R.R. Martin has garnered a lot of publicity with his A Song of Fire and Ice, I do have to warn you this is something completely different... Too bad I have to wait till January 2015 for the fourth book too be released, luckily there is Lowball (Wild Cards #22) later this summer!!

  • Adam Whitehead
    2019-02-25 01:27

    The alien Swarm has been driven back into deep space. The band of villainous aces and jokers who tried to summon the Swarm, led by the Astronomer, have been defeated in battle and the victorious aces are taking some time out to enjoy Wild Cards Day 1986, the fortieth anniversary of the arrival of the alien virus on Earth. Unfortunately, the Astronomer hungers for revenge and sets out to murder all of the aces responsible for his defeat.Jokers Wild is the third novel in the Wild Cards series and follows on directly from the events of Aces High. Having lost the battle in that book, the Astronomer is now out for revenge and begins cutting his way through the ranks of aces in New York City. Jokers Wild is interesting in that the entire book takes place across one day, so it's pretty unrelenting in pace, and also that it's the first "mosaic novel" in the series. Earlier books were collections of short stories which shared some events and characters, but mosaic novels actually intertwine around one another. The book reads as a regular novel, but each chapter is written by a different author and sometimes even sections and paragraphs within each chapter are written by different authors, who handle different characters and subplots.This is a pretty noticeable phenomenon and for the first half or so of the book I found it seriously distracting, with sometimes jarring shifts in tone, atmosphere and prose style taking place. The somewhat relaxed and even jovial Hiram Worcester storyline (written by George R.R. Martin) and the adventurous Wraith plot (written by John J. Miller) didn't feel like it was really taking place in the same world as the sleazy, sexually explicit Fortunato stuff (written by Lewis Shiner) and the traumatising Roulette/Tachyon material (written by Melinda Snodgrass), despite the storylines all interacting with one another. This, combined with the disparate and wildly disconnected nature of the plots, made the first half of the book very tough going.Fortunately, things gelled into place in the second half. The storylines start coming together and the way the heroes are working at cross-purposes without realising it becomes is quite cleverly structured. Eventually all of the scattered storylines come together in a massive, explosive and reasonably satisfying finale, even if the willingness of major characters to walk away and leave villains (who've just killed several of their friends) alive rather than either finishing them off or putting them in jail seems a bit implausible.Still, if Jokers Wild (***½) is an experimental novel in structure and writing style, it is ultimately a successful one but takes quite a long time to get there. Accordingly, this is the weakest of the first three Wild Card books, but still a worthwhile read. The book is available now in the UK and USA.

  • Bob Gilson
    2019-02-28 04:31

    I had read this book when it came out originally. This audio book version was fun to listen to. The different narrators for each of the point a view characters was a good touch. It is funny what you forget and what you remember in a book you read 30 years ago. Still if was a fun read, I had forgotten how harsh it was too. The final showdown with the evil Astronomer got very messy at times.

  • Beverly
    2019-03-18 03:38

    I had a little trouble keeping the characters straight, especially the ones who were called by two names. Still, I enjoyed the book. Lots of action (and sex) and a satisfying conclusion. I will read more in the series.

  • Perrin
    2019-03-08 07:48

    Continue to read these little by little between other books. Such a fun series!

  • Jim Smith
    2019-03-07 00:40

    Cool seriesNice flow as several authors put together a fine fantasy series, looking forward to the next hoping the flow stays consistent

  • AdamJa
    2019-03-02 02:38

    "Jokers Wild" was a much better book than "Aces High".Really enjoyed it!

  • Tracy
    2019-03-19 03:53

    Out of the Wild Card books so far it’s been my favorite. Plenty of action

  • Peyton Banks
    2019-02-28 06:29

    I love when this series goes into full blown mosaic form. I also love this installment because it highlights some of my favorite characters from this arc. Yeoman, Wraith, and Roulette are all pretty fantastic. I also enjoy Hiram about 80% of the time. However, this is also the installment that most prominently features my least favorite character in this series, Fortunato. I can't stand him. I also thought this novel was lacking in that the Rosemary story line felt kind of unearned. It was only saved by the adorableness that is Bagabond. I also hate that the Astronomer's motives don't really seem to be well laid out. I still find this installment to be enjoyable. 3.5 stars

  • Matt Mitrovich
    2019-03-20 02:57

    See link to original review here: http://alternatehistoryweeklyupdate.b...Jokers Wild takes place shortly after the events of Aces High on Wild Cards Day, the 40th anniversary of the day when an alien virus was released over New York City, killing most of the people that contracted it and horribly disfiguring the few survivors, except for those lucky enough to gain superpowers. The Astronomer and his followers are taking revenge on those Aces who defeated their attempt at world domination by killing them one by one. While Fortunato and others race to stop him, an Ace named Wraith steals some notebooks from a wealthy New Yorker, but soon discovers he is a powerful criminal who will stop at nothing to get his property back. On top of that, Sewer Jack learns his niece ran away from home and is alone somewhere in New York City. As he seeks her out he enlists the help of his friend Bagabond who also...okay lets just say there are a hell of lot of subplots going on at once.If everything above sounds confusing, it is. Not only is Jokers Wild a book where you need to read what came before, the problems are compounded by the fact that this is a "mosaic novel", where different short stories from various authors are edited together to tell one story. Now the previous two books in the series had overarching themes that tied many of the stories together, Jokers Wild on the other hand, is presented as one story told by seven different authors, including Martin, with each author writing for a different point of view character. I have to give them credit for putting together a readable novel with that many minds/egos, but the finished product is still rather rough. Transitions don't always flow well with characters changing drastically as points of view switch. I can forgive them, however, since this was their first time and considering the Wild Cards series now has over twenty volumes, perhaps later mosaic novels are more polished now that they have more experience.I am not going to nitpick all the issues with the book, but I do want to point out how clumsily the Sewer Jack "reveal" was handled. Turns out he is gay and before you get angry, trust me, it really isn't much of a spoiler. They pretty much broadcast that fact on a giant neon sign almost straight from the beginning. A beautiful woman wonders why he is uninterested in her advances, he looks for his niece in a gay bar that he implies he has visited once or twice, he gets really upset when a random stranger calls him a "fag", his male friend who he has strong feelings for has HIV, he knows a lot about women's makeup...wait, what? Maybe its just because I am a heterosexual, but I don't think being gay means you immediately know how to apply makeup competently!To be fair this book was originally published in 1987, and presumably the stories themselves were written even earlier, so just having a gay major character in a book marketed to the general public was a pretty big deal. I mean there were some states that still were enforcing anti-sodomy laws. Critics I listen to have pointed out that writers in the 80s and 90s really didn't know how to write gay characters and often fell back on stereotypes and cliches. So perhaps everyone involved can be forgiven for this issue, especially because even with all of my negativity above, I can still recommend this book.What is great about Wild Cards is that it presents a surreal superhero universe where things don't quite work out the way they would in the comics. Most of the people who survived the Wild Cards virus are grotesque monstrosities and have been relegated to the lowest rung of society because of it, even if they do have a superpower. Even those who kept their normal, human looks don't always get useful powers (i.e. being able to fly, but not lift anything up because you are not strong enough or gaining magical-esque powers, but to recharge you have to have sex and never ejaculate). Even the "heroes" come off more like reality TV stars than actual heroes and the few traditional vigilantes are often viewed at best as menaces and at worst serial killers. That is all on display throughout the book and it was those elements that kept me reading until the end.Jokers Wild is a bizarre and fun breakdown of the usual superhero tropes and if the technical side of the book is rather weak, the universe Martin and his friends created more than makes up for it. Go check out Jokers Wild, but make sure you read the first two books first.

  • Michael
    2019-03-08 05:29

    1. If you like fiction, stories about superheroes and super villains you will love this book. 2. The book is the third in the series Wild Card, and the plot is continuously evolving with characters unpacked and developed throughout the series. The grand unfolding of the plot happens in this book. 3. George R.R. Martin is the editor and likely the mastermind of the book. This book was written by multiple authors each developing their character who co-operate, interact and intermingle within the universe created for the series. Mr. Martin does a fantastic job putting the book together and preserving the individual writing styles, which add to character uniqueness. 4. It will quench the adolescent's curiosity with a barrage of adult scenes, from sex described in vivid details to gore dismemberment and violence in lifelike descriptions.

  • Shannon Appelcline
    2019-03-08 07:42

    Structurally, this book is a masterpiece. The shared world anthologies of the '80s were giving writers the opportunity to tell loosely linked stories set in the same world, but Wild Cards was the first series to really go beyond that, by using those shared stories to tell coherent epics. However, Jokers Wild goes a step beyond even that, creating an actual novel with individual writers writing individual sections that were then carefully grafted together by master wordsmith George R.R. Martin. The result feels entirely cohesive, like it was the work of just one author, not seven. It's an amazing bit of cooperative storytelling.The plot is pretty good too, with its focus on two major elements: the Astronomer seeking revenge for his defeat in Aces High and a few of Wild Cards' gangs circling around for advantage. However, when you get down to the level of the individual story threads, then the writing is a bit more clunky, because too much of it depends on wheel-spinning and water-treading, intended to keep each character active through the 25 hours depicted within this novel.Fortunato (Shiner), Spector (Simons), and Roulette (Snodgrass) form the core of the book, because they're the ones focusing on the central Astronomer plot. And, it's kind of an interesting grouping as we have one dark hero and two villains — very much presenting the ethos of both the upcoming '90s and the Wild Cards books. Their stories are generally the strongest in the book, especially Fortunato who gets to have a few climatic moments against the Astronomer and who is paying off old plot threads. Spector is a good return, and he seems to have the same funny, loser storytelling as before. Finally, Roulette is OK, but she has squickiest power ever (death by orgasm) of an increasingly squicky world (cf, Fortunato, especially in his introduction). It wasn't good foreshadowing for the direction Snodgrass would be moving (cf., the Jumpers Trilogy). With all that said, these plots also had the water-treading problems endemic to the novel: Fortunato is always searching for the Astronomer, Spector is always trying to get away, and Roulette is always deciding whether to kill Tachyon. The authors generally overshadow these problems with strong action and characterization, but they're there.Wraith (Miller) and to a certain extent Bagabound (Harper) give some focus to the book's lesser plot about the gangs, as Wraith steals from Kien and Bagabound watches from the sidelines as Rosemary takes over the Gambione mob. The Wraith plot is OK because both she and Miller's Yeoman are interesting characters. The Bagabound plot is problematic (no surprise!). As a baglady-when-she-feels-like it, the character herself is problematic, but then we get this half-assed plot where she's not actually the interesting character. We got no solid closure on any of these mob plotlines, but they're interesting bookmarks for the future.Hiram (Martin) nicely ties everything together, but goes far beyond being the role of the narrator's spokesman. He gives us some critical scenes, such as the Astronomer's attack on Aces High, but also nicely ties together the Astronomer and mob plots. And he's an interesting character too. Oh, and then there's Sewer Jack (Bryant) who has the one totally wasted plot in this book as he spends most of a day endlessly chasing after his niece and then at the end gets coffee, dresses hair, and does other things that show he's not that worried. If Jack were cut, the book would be improved.As a whole, the individual plots of Jokers Wild are weaker than the overall idea. But this is still quite a good book that continues to expand and dramatize the Wild Cards universe. It's more like a 4.5 than a 4, and it gives me great hope for what future mosaic novels will be like if the authors can get away from characters spending most of the book spinning their wheels.

  • Johnny
    2019-03-01 05:43

    Although the last time I read a Wild Cards volume was in the late ‘80s, I was intrigued to run across Wild Cards III: Jokers Wild in a used bookstore. I was quick to note that some things had changed (perhaps, only my sensitivities) and some things had not. Where the earlier volumes had been anthologies of intriguing short stories with a very loose overarching plot, this third volume attempted what George R. R. Martin called a mosaic novel. In this story, all of the events happen around the core celebration/mourning of a Jokers Day where different individuals affected by the virus which both disfigured and empowered the characters of this universe end up reacting to and attempting to preserve or destroy this universe, as a result. So, there is a strict time line in effect and Martin as the overall editor shepherds the multiple protagonists through the day in a zig-zag fashion which whipsaws readers like me, but may read like a documentary full of overlaying textures to others.The idea of the virus which permeates this shared universe is that it was released by an alien, one Dr. Tachyon, with good intentions. Yet, as with many bio-engineering plots, it had rapidly evolutionary successes and failures. The successes were those that we might call super beings and the failures were what we might call cursed minorities. The former were called “aces” and would choose between the exigencies of heroism or the enticements of villainy. The latter were called jokers and learned to exploit the benefits of their “differences” and embolden themselves against the inevitable prejudices faced by “their kind.”The “aces” represented in this book, besides the pivotal presence of Dr. Tachyon, are such that one can transform himself into dinosaur forms but (owing to physical laws) must maintain equivalent mass such that they are often “tiny” dinosaurs, another can (assuming she is suitably undressed) move through solid barriers, and another can adjust gravity at will such that one can experience the incredible lightness of being or the inevitable weight of his opposition. There is one ace with ability to kill with memories of his own death though he seems to have been revived and be living in an essentially deathless state. And there is another ace called Captain Tripp. His ability seems to be causing accidents at the appropriate times in order to advance a given agenda. In between these fortuitous accidents, he bores everyone with tediously politically correct monologues. Perhaps most interestingly, a joker has the ability to kill by unleashing poisonous enzymes at will during coitus. The overall agenda seems to be for one of the villainous aces to destroy all of the enemies who foiled his nefarious plan at an earlier time. As a suitable villain, he perpetrates sinister machinations even against his own allies and he manipulates at least two characters in what one suspects from early on could well contribute to his downfall.Alas, the results of this frenetic day and complex mosaic were less than satisfying to me. The pacing (perhaps a result of each individual writer trying to get her/his “best bits” in) often seemed sluggish and insignificant. I truly wanted to like this innovative and courageous attempt, but it just fell flat for me.

  • Stephen Dorneman
    2019-03-13 04:56

    JOKERS WILD is a strong entry in the Wild Cards series, where all the action takes place in one hectic day. The threads of the various characters (and products of the various writers) are woven together tighter in this mosaic novel than in the previous volumes. Some backing off at the most climactic moments dampens the impact in a couple of the threads but overall, Recommended

  • Keith
    2019-03-23 03:40

    It turns out I don't like these books. Any of them so far. They're not awful, many of you might love them. I stop reading when I read Wild Cards. Instead of my usual pace of reading a few nights a week for a good book and nearly non-stop for a great one, I limp through these at a rate of a few pages every few weeks. Compelled to try and finish it later, just not right now, because they are good books, I mean that. Anyway, I didn't finish this book, I'm not going to finish this book. You should read Wild Cards 1. If you like it maybe read your way to this one and beyond. Or don't, I'm completely indifferent to the plots, characters, concepts, etc of this whole, well written, but still somehow bad series. In the end they collectively failed to do the most important thing a book can do. They failed to make me care.

  • Ben
    2019-03-05 05:47

    Wild Cards was a really interesting book which impressed me a lot despite, or perhaps because of, not being especially keen on short stories. Aces High was not really quite as good and I was not as keen on the central theme of tying all the short stories in together to address a single plot. Here with Jokers Wild the trend continues and we have a whole bunch of short stories which are about the same 24 hours and the events which are happening over them, and then they are cut and pasted together to turn it into a single novel. Now, to be fair this is done rather more skilfully than I imply with my casual 'cut and paste' comment, but that does not make it a particularly good read. There are a lot of characters - some of them are more important to the story than others. Those others sometimes feel like they are a bit shoe-horned into the story. It is the kind of thing which would probably work better as a mini TV series, and then it would not lack a the cohesiveness of a single storytelling voice.Making matters worse is that the plot revisits the previous book in a major way and that whole plot did not grab me then, and seeing it being resolved now was not exciting. With the 24 hour style it quickly seemed clear that there would a whole lot of running around doing nothing much while we prepare for the major events to happen some 20 odd chapters later, and once that happened it seemed as if the story were just killing time. Further, the illustrations which come with the book are clearly drawn by someone who did not actually read the prose and in almost every picture there are examples of how people are wearing different clothes or look somewhat different - making the point of the pictures entirely pointless.The afterword about what a great shared universe and the process behind the book was interesting, but I felt it was somewhat self congratulatory and the comment that these three books form a trilogy and will set the pattern for future books has definitely put me off. I suspect I will avoid this series from now on.