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Mississippi Roll: A Wild Cards novel Hardcover – December 5, 2017
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Praise for the Wild Cards series
“Perhaps the most original and provocative of the shared worlds books.” ―Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn
"Delicious...Everything I hoped for in a new Wild Cards book. The character interactions and plot twists have exactly the complexity, surprise, and unsentimental realism I'd expect out of a George R. R. Martin project." ―Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will be Invincible on Inside Straight
“This is a wild ride of good, blood-pumping fun that packs a surprisingly emotional punch for a book that looks on the surface like just another superhero adventure.” ― Publishers Weekly on High Stakes
“Emotionally powerful. Wild Cards deals up the variety of short fiction without losing the continuity of a novel.”―The Seattle Times
“A delightfully imaginative speculation.”―The Toronto Star
"Martin has assembled an impressive array of writers. . . . Progressing through the decades, Wild Cards keeps its momentum to the end." ―Locus
"The shared-world series known as Wild Cards has had a long and illustrious history of contributors and achievements." ―SciFi.com
"New readers and fans of the long-running series will both love the fast-paced plotting and the ever-expanding history of the Wild Card virus on this alternate Earth, where even the superheroes are human." ―Shelf Awareness on Lowball
"Highly recommended." ―SFRevu on Lowball
About the Author
GEORGE R. R. MARTIN is the author of the acclaimed, internationally bestselling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the basis of HBO's popular Game of Thrones television series. Martin has won multiple science fiction awards, including 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, the Bram Stoker, the Locus Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Daedelus, the Balrog, and the Daikon (Japanese Hugo).
Top customer reviews
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"An alien bomb is detonated above the planet, shedding an indiscriminate gene virus on an Earth barely recovered from the horrors of World War ll. The result: Wild Cards. ACES blessed with superhuman powers and JOKERS cursed with bizarre physical and mental disfigurements."
While the Wild Cards novels are edited by George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame, the stories themselves are written by a wide cast of authors. Mississippi Roll boasts the talent of Stephen Leigh, David D. Levine, John Jos. Miller, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Cherie Priest, and Carrie Vaughn. You may be asking yourself how Mississippi Roll can be classified as a novel with so many authors having taken part. Isn’t it by definition a collection of short stories? The answer is both yes and no. There is an overarching storyline that’s moved along via each individual story and a continuity that’s established by each author’s contribution picking up where the last story left off, though from a different character’s perspective. What binds all of the characters and their disparate, individual storylines together is the fact that they are all onboard the same steamboat, the Natchez, and they all cross paths with one central character: the Natchez’s captain, Wilbur Leathers.
It is the year 1951 when we are first introduced to Wilbur Leathers, a vibrant river captain who shares the steamboat he calls home with his wife, Eleanor. Tragedy strikes and Wilbur is changed into what he thinks is a ghost. Given that this is a Wild Card novel, though, chances are he’s actually become an Ace, Joker, or something in between. Regardless, this life change brings about a separation from Eleanor, who leaves the Natchez forever, and a seemingly eternal captivity for Wilbur, who finds he is unable to leave the boat at all. Years pass as the Natchez finds herself with new owners, captains, and guests. All the while, Wilbur Leathers “haunts” the steamboat, becoming something of an urban legend.
That’s the setup for Mississippi Roll. From there, the reader is introduced to a menagerie of colorful characters, their interactions while onboard the Natchez becoming the basis of each of the stories. Even though each tale is penned by a different author, I found the reading experience to be very level and smooth. This is the mark of a good editor; you can’t do much better than Mr. Martin. The characters are a mix of unchanged humans, Aces, and Jokers. The latter have talents that either get them into trouble or cause trouble, though all types of people alike are simply getting by in this world, some trying to make their mark more than others. There is no evil, per se, though there is certainly an alignment of better and worse as the stories progress and the central plot eventually comes to a head.
The writing is top notch all-around, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the list of contributors. That being said, no particular story stood out to me above any other in terms of quality, though I can’t say the opposite, either. Overall, it’s a well written set of stories with some imaginative plots and characters. Mississippi Roll is appropriate for all ages. The stories range from lighthearted to suspenseful with some violence mixed in here and there. Only one story has strong violence as one of its central themes, but that one also involves forbidden love (so of course things are going to get violent).
What really stands out in Mississippi Roll is the character and story of Captain Leathers. He binds all of the disparate stories together but also has one of the most interesting and intriguing storylines of them all. I felt for his situation and applauded his final fate, though it is not necessarily a good one. But he does find some peace, which is, I think, the best one could hope for given his situation.
Mississippi Roll is an entertaining jaunt onboard a steamboat of old. The stories flow together seamlessly (a credit to the editor) and the overall story is fun and engaging while fitting nicely into the Wild Cards world. I’m giving it four rockets and a recommendation to add it to your TBR list.
I was not aware of the "Wild Cards" series...there are a ton of them! This being my first experience with the series, I had a little catching up to do (mostly on the virus, as well as the descriptions of the aces and jokers.) But this was a perfect stand-alone book, and I fell in love with the characters immediately (here's looking at you, Wilbur). The writing style was absolutely addicting. (I'm not kidding. I bought the first book in the series before I finished this one.) The characters are magnificent, with their own personalities and quirks. They stay with you long after you have closed the book. And apparently some of these characters are in the other books! (SCORE.)
Dear Publisher: If you ever feel like giving away the other books in the series for review, I am your MAN. Well...woman. But you get my drift.
A bit of background-the Wild Card virus was unleashed at the end of WWII. It turns people into either Aces (superhero types) or Jokers (not so useful powers), or seems to have no effect. Most have physical changes. It can lay dormant in the body for many years. There is great prejudice against Jokers.
This book brings back the Ace from the first book I read, Leo Storgman, now a private eye retired from the police force. He and his wife are written really well.
This book address serious issues, like prejudice, PTSD, and greed, but doesn't slam us over the head with it, or pretend to have all the answers.
I got this from my local library.
I enjoyed it a lot. The Amazon listing suggests the series is still being considered for television. Review printed by Philadelphia Free Press
A solid read.