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Inside Straight:
A Wild Card Novel

Edited by George R.R. Martin

      Imagine an alien virus hit the world in 1946 - a virus that rewrites human DNA. Most of those affected died; the rest...changed. For some, the changes made them rejects, too mutated for human tastes. Women with snakes for fingers. Men with animal heads. Freaks. Jokers. For a tiny number, the changes were fantastic, giving them super powers. These were the Aces. And the virus was called the Wild Card.

Given those kinds of changes - what would the world of 2008 be like? What would the United States do with these Aces? Well, put them on a reality television show, of course. And that is the premise for Inside Straight. Aces are competing to become The American Hero - and the competition has them acting anything but heroic. Still, for some of the group, there is a longing to be real heroes, and an opportunity just might be brewing for exactly that.

This novel has a huge cast of characters and you spend time inside the heads of several of the Aces - both in the competition and not. At first, that can be a bit confusing as it weaves its web of international intrigue. Also, for a novice to the Wild Card stories, the references to past Aces are sometimes a little confusing. But the whole premise of the novel - the reduction of a major world change to a reality game show - is fascinating.

I enjoyed the grayness of the book - just when you're absolutely sure you know what is good and what is bad, the story shifts to give you a new perspective, forcing you to see just how complex life and human emotion really are. Funny, tense, annoying and satisfying - this is a book that just won't let you become too comfortable with the reading ride. And it lingers long after the cover's closed. What more could you ask from a story?

The Book

January 2008
ARC of Hardcover
0765317818 / 9780765317810
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The Reviewer

Jan Fields
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Jan Fields is the editor of Kid Magazine Writers emagazine and has written dozens of stories and articles for the children's magazine market.
© 2008