- Copertina rigida: 320 pagine
- Editore: Ibooks; New edition edizione (19 agosto 2002)
- Collana: Wild Cards Vol XVI
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0743445058
- ISBN-13: 978-0743445054
- Peso di spedizione: 494 g
Deuces Down (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 19 ago 2002
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George R.R. Martin's work includes many short stories which are dominated by visual imagery. His most recent work A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, a dynastic epic which includes A GAME OF THRONES has won him a number of fantasy writing awards.
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Also, if you're a fan of George R. R. Martin's work in the Song of Ice and Fire stories, you should know that the Wild Cards series is nothing like that. Martin does write a fair amount of material, particularly in the earlier volumes of the series, but this is a peculiar kind of science fiction without any of the elements that have made Ice and Fire so popular.
Fans of the series may find this new book disappointing. The theme is "deuces" --- wild cards with minor or even seemingly silly abilities --- and the stories are set in different time periods, from the late sixties till the present day. Although the title page carries the usual "mosaic novel" tag, this is really an anthology of seven stories, and since there is no connecting narrative or sequence of events to tie the pieces together, the book lacks the impact of earlier volumes. Part of the genius of the "mosaic novel" concept was the cumulative effect of several shorter pieces that fit smoothly into a greater whole, and that is noticeably absent here.
That's not to say that there is isn't the usual fine writing. I was particularly impressed by first time contributor David Abraham's story, which is touching, suspenseful, and moving. John J. Miller provides a brilliant baseball story, and Melinda Snodgrass's Hollywood tale is enjoyable. Kevin Andrew Murphy's piece is the weakest; although it bristles with fascinating ideas, the plot lumbers along and doesn't quite support the weight of the concepts. Michael Cassutt's and Walton Simons's contributions are good, but not spectacular; and Stephen Leigh's story is slightly below par for him.
Of course this is essential reading, but not quite up to the standard set by earlier books, particularly Volumes 1-7. It would have been more satisfying if the stories had been connected in some way to provide the extra punch of the "mosaic novel."
"Deuces" is a somewhat modest offering-- seven stories spread throughout history (a la Books One and Thirteen), with the loose theme being "deuces" (Wild Card lingo for characters whose powers are negligable compared to supercharged "aces"). The stories get better as the book progresses, with the opening story by Michael Cassutt being competent but uninteresting, and the final story by Kevin Andrew Murphy being an absolute joy -- partly by virtue of being the only story in the volume set in the present day, allowing longtime fans a glimpse into what the WC universe looks like in the new millennium.
Some breif commentary on each story...
Cassutt's "Storming Space" is a sequel of sorts to his offering in Book Thirteen. Cassutt's style is good, but his Wild Cards stories are so slight that they almost disappear. He tends to put some interesting things around the edges of his tales, but the actual meat doesn't really satisfy. It makes for an unfortunately modest opener.
John Miller's story is more fun. The story's primary flaw is that it gets bogged down in the details of baseball games -- and if you're not a fan of the sport, you might start to doze. However, his characterization of a teenage Digger Downs (a minor character in the series, most enjoyably utilized back in Book Seven) is affectionate and endearing. A good "origin" tale.
Walton Simons delivers a limp tale of two rather uninteresting new characters -- somewhat surprisingly, since his two primary Wild Cards creations, Demise and Mr. Nobody, are both great (indeed, both Demise and Nobody are used in "Deuces" by other writers-- and quite entertainingly!). Kind of drab, this one, and like Cassutt's, it's damaged by its feeling vaguely inconsequential.
The collection kicks up a notch in its second half, starting with Melinda Snodgrass' wonderful "Face for the Cutting Room Floor," a tale of Wild Cards Hollywood, every bit as good as Kevin Murphy's Hollywood excursion in Book 13. Starring Snodgrass' creation Bradley Finn (a "joker," or character with some unusual physical oddity rather than superpower-- in Finn's case, a body like that of mythical centaurs), it's filled with wonderful humor and clever little twists, as well as great characterization.
Daniel Abraham's story "Father Henry's Little Miracle" is quite nice. Abraham is a newcomer to the Wild Card Trust of writers, but he seems utterly confident in spite of this, weaving -- in fantastic prose -- a tale that takes place in the midst of the gang wars from Book Five. Abraham's new character, Father Henry, is fun and instantly likeable, particularly in an entertaining confrontation with Simons' Demise (perfectly characterized here).
Stephen Leigh's story, about a bit player from Book Fifteen, is warm, rich and evocative (if rushed in the beginning). Utterly inconsequential to the greater workings of the Wild Card universe, but still a great read in its own right. And it's restrained too-- mercifully not filled to bursting with the grotesquerie of Leigh's Puppetman and Bloat tales from earlier volumes.
Kevin Andrew Murphy's concluding story, "With a Flourish and a Flair," is alone worth the price of admission. A meditation on magic -- both real and artificial-- in the Wild Cards universe, it's layered and fascinating. It's also joyously packed with characters, some familiar to WC readers, and some of Murphy's own ingenious design. The "Jokertown Boys" are a fresh and fun new addition to the WC mythos, demanding more screen time in future volumes of the series.
Meanwhile, Murphy gleefully and unrestrainedly tosses in clever references to previous stories and old, half-forgetten characters-- his affection for the intricacies of the Wild Cards practically leaping from every page.
"Flourish" makes polishing off this latest Wild Cards volume a pleasure, and leaves the reader starved for the next installment in this happily-returned series.