George R.R. Martin (Editor)
Tor, Feb 2008, $24.95
Although his grandfather will never forgive him as he was part of the age of chivalry before JFK and Jetboy died; Jonathan Hive and twenty-seven extraordinary marvelous superheroes (that word is used loosely) sign onto a survivor reality TV show. In actuality, the chosen 28 have never been heroic, but each has a superhuman skill. These “aces” will initially belong to one of four “suits” while competing in staged contests as only LA-LA land could dream up with losers voted off the show until the greatest American Hero is left standing.
However, as the weeks go by those left standing are stunned by appalling sickening events in the Middle East. There inane games look pathetic when compared to those without superpowers risking their lives. Stunningly several including Jonathan whose grandfather is probably smiling, leave the set to become real American Heroes not just Hollywood Heroes even knowing they may die in their endeavor.
The latest round of the Wild Cards thrillers starts a new saga in which several authors (
Daniel Abraham, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Carrie Vaughan, Michael Cassutt, Caroline Spector, John Jos. Miller, George R. R. Martin, Ian Tregillis and S. L. Farrell) contribute. The well written tale reads smooth (a trademark of the previous entries) in spite of the numerous contributors while satirizing reality TV and world affairs. INSIDE STRAIGHT entertains the audience but also asks readers to ponder two key points. First who is a hero reminds us of Charles Barkley’s "I am not a role model. Parents should be the role models”; in this case soldiers are the heroes. Second that with great power comes greater responsibly beyond “Bring em on” bravado from a safe house or Hollywood set. This is an excellent exciting and thought provoking royal flush as the whole is greater than the individual sums.