01/02/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: TOR/SciFi Channel. 399 page hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $27.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1782-7.
check out website: www.tor-forge.com
The threads of 'Busted Flush, this latest 'Wild Cards' novel carry on from the previous mosaic novel, 'Inside Straight', with new alliances and menaces, with some resonance with events in our own reality. Like ours, they have an oil crisis taken to extremes and hurricanes, with added zombies around New Orleans that needed investigating, are equally rife. When you add to that a nuclear explosion wiping out a town leaving a small boy who is deemed to be an ace - a Wild Card virus infectee not given to physical manifestation of their abilities - then the UN team, the Committee, has to stretch itself pretty widely. Added into the mix are aces and jokers with different agendas and alliances and you need a score card to keep up with what is going on. More so when there are nine writers involved segueing their way through events and editors George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass pace them through the novel.
In many ways, this novel steps in really at the gallop, giving the reader or the characters time to reflect on what they are doing as the events carry on. When they do, however, the order of things changes yet again.
The latest 'Wild Cards' books are not something you should come into totally cold. At least buy 'Inside Straight' first and acquaint yourself with the current cast. One thing I did find a little disjointing was having to remind myself who some of the characters were when switching between segments. No doubt this wasn't probably a consideration when each writer contributed their parts, mostly I suspect the divisions hadn't been finalised, but took a little mental gear shifting and I'm a fan.
Oddly, the return of two of the older Aces, Cameo and one I can't reveal without acting as a spoiler acted as a stabiliser into this mix and I hope the team considers doing this more, if only to remind people of the series roots. I'd love to know more about what happened to characters such as the Turtle and Sleeper for instance.
With the third book on the horizon, 'Busted Flush' being in the middle is more of the current TOR contract looks more like preparing for what happens next. Events are happening and I suspect their world is going to change even more after this. Aces are down but not out. What they really need now is a lucky hand with the world becoming a greater mess.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA