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George R. R. Martin Presents Wild Cards: Pairing Up

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George R. R. Martin has edited an anthology of tls from one of my favorite series. Wild Cards: Pairing Up (hard from Bantam). In this alternate timeline, the Wild Card virus was dropped in New York shortly after WWII and modified our history with Jokers and superhero Aces. These tales start in 1957 with a telekinetic thief who hooks up with Jack Braun, a super strong actor playing Tarzan and filming in Mexico, where she hopes to steal a lost Mexican treasure. The final tale takes place in 2023 where a man with a psychic wolf inside him, falls in love with a black girl with wings and together they help stop a man causing riots. I love this series.

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George R. R. Martin Presents Wild Cards: Pairing Up: An Anthology
George R.R. Martin (Editor), Melinda M Snodgrass (Contributor) Kevin Andrew Murphy (Contributor), Marko Kloos (Contributor), Bradley Denton (Contributor) , Peter Newman
(Contributor), Gwenda Bond (Contributor), David Anthony Durham (Contributor) Christopher Rowe (Contributor)
448 pages, Hardcover
Expected publication July 11, 2023

This edition
448 pages, Hardcover
Expected publication
July 11, 2023 by Bantam
9780593357866 (ISBN10: 0593357868)

1957: Trudy of the Apes by Kevin Andrew Murphy
The story of movie stars, and golden heroes. It's a remarkable story showing the history and connection between movies and wild cards. I loved the multiple connections to historic golden day film stars and movies of the day. The connections to Mexican mythology with the wild cards makes the story multilayered. I think Trudy Pirandello is a great character with many more stories to come I hope.

1981: Cyrano D’Escargot By Christopher Rowe
This story has a connection to the Cyrano romantic character. The Wild Card twist shows the nature of acceptance of those afflicted by the wild cards virus. With many references to authors, and film stars the story shows how the burgeoning 80’s society allows technology to help and hinder those afflicted by the virus.

2010: in the Forests of night by Marko Kloos
Khan has an adventure in South America that may shape the future of the Wild Cards epidemic. It shows the nature of blessing and damnation that the virus brings to its victims.

2013: the wounded heart by Melinda Snodgrass
The aftermath of battle is the hardest struggle. We place high expectations on heroes, that they can face overwhelming odds and circumstances and come home whole and sane. Even in the world of wild cards heroes pay a cost for their heroics. Great nostalgic story of past wild card events.

2019: Echoes from a Canyon wall by Bradley Denton
Learning to accept yourself is a hard thing. Learning to accept your Wild Card, a whole different matter. From the outside view of the struggle and the inner monologue this story shows the levels of acceptance.

2020: The Long Goodbye By Walton Simons
A look at the beginning of the film age. We see two of our beloved characters interact with the glitz and glitter of silent film. A nostalgic story showing the historical nature of Wild cards, how it creates a connection between Era and genre. A wonderfully sentimental story of connection between love and grief.

2021: What's your Sign?Gwenda Bond and Peter Newman
A sweet introduction of Two new wild cards. The originality of the series I'd remarkable. This new set of characters is a whole new line of thought. A great introduction to new life in the series. The use of modern media fundraising is a new concept too. This series always grows with new concepts.

2023: the wolf and the butterfly David Anthony Durham

Great new character and love interest for a beloved character. The coming of age of one of our childhood wild cards.
I am continually amazed at the creativity of the authors. This new twist on wildcards powers is significantly fresh and new. I hope to see the character's development.

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George R. R. Martin has taken time away from his writing to edit another Wild Cards book of short stories, George R.R. Martin Presents Wild Cards Pairing Up. As a reader I have read most of the Wild Cards short stories as well as the mosaic novels. It is an Immense universe where wonders never cease and readers see the best and worst of those struck by the Wild Card and given the powers of an Ace, Deuce, or Jack or even the horrors of being a Joker or drawing the Black Queen. As the name implies, this was someone of a romantic outing, with the primary characters ”pairing up” with one another. Favorites included “Cyrano d’Escargot,” which is a play off of Cyrano de Bergerac. “Echoes from a Canyon Wall” and “Thw Wolf and the Butterfly” both had the Amazing Bubbles, Michelle Pond, off stage but haviinig a heavy impact on the storyline. Stella and Stewart were sweet in “What’s your Sign?” All in all, this was a lighter set of stories than one usually finds in Wild Cards, but enjoyable none the less.

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I got to read the new Wild Cards anthology, Pairing Up and with this being my first Wild Cards book, I’m all in. If like me, you’ve never messed with George RR Martin’s sci-fi alternate Earth series, the premise is actually given in the Introduction and I won’t ruin too much of it but essentially because of aliens and spores there is a mutant class of humans known as Wild Cards and given different nicknames and classes within the mutant community based on if they received powers, are deformed in some way, or died from interacting with the spores, with the specific nicknames being named after different types of cards. In this book, we get a collection of short stories by many fantastic authors from Kevin Andrew Murphy to David Anthony Durham that slowly take us through the timeline of this version of Earth starting with the 1950s and ending with the current year of 2023. Personally, I love the first story as we get to explore the late Hollywood Golden Age and how the existence of Wild Cards changes the idea of being a celebrity. The other stories are also fantastic and if you enjoy George RR Martin’s worldbuilding along with seeing other talented writers this is definitely the book to check out and is available now.

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Wild Cards: Pairing Up, edited by George R.R. Martin, will be published on July 11, 2023. Bantam Books provided an early galley for review.

I have been on-board with the Wild Cards anthology since its debut in 1987 (when I was in my final year of college). Stories set in an ever-growing super-hero world always interested me. It is so nice to see this series continue into its thirty-sixth year and its thirty-first volume. But for those who this might be their first encounter with the franchise, no worries. There is a two-page introduction at the start to get you up to speed.

The eight short stories in the collection do share a unique theme - one involving pairings. But they each stand on their own as the move through the timeline of the Wild Cards history. I have a thing for actors and Hollywood, so "Trudy of the Apes" by Murphy and "The Long Goodbye" by Simons both posed an interesting alure with characters I had read about previously. "What's Your Sign" by Bond and Newman is also a sweet tale about a couple of aces coming together in a most unexpected way. And there was something so universal with Rowe's "Cyrano d'Escargot" which takes a unique twist to a familiar scenario.

All in all, a strong collection of tales about finding love among those with powers.

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Anthologies are the best reference material I know of to find and explore new authors and genre. The Wild Cards anthologies take it one step further, combining talents and imaginations to give readers some of the best reading experiences around. I have now read several of the Wild Card anthologies with the remaining ones on my TBR pile. My reading time is precious, the best recommendation I can give is that I keep returing to these series of antholgies for more. Try them for yourself.

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