One-Eyed Jacks (A Wild Cards Novel book 8) edited by George RR Martin (book review).

Slipping back into the past with an early volume of ‘Wild Cards’, the eighth book ‘One-Eyed Jacks’ even sees a younger Jack Creighton who in his 40s at the time but his shape-shifting ability made him look years younger, even more so when he uses 1940s film stars as his model.

You also get a demonstration of the difference between the two eras plus two new stories, ‘The Tower Of Gold And Amber’ by Kevin Andrew Murphy and ‘A Broken Thread in A Dark Room’ by Carrie Vaughn, for those who aren’t sure about updating their book collection. Murphy’s story deals with a Republican ball and a couple Aces thieving plaques off the wall in front of everyone. There’s a slight tie-in later with Vaughn’s story when Joann Jefferson, the energy-absorbing Lady Black, is asked to investigate possible Wild Card interference when animal skins with no damage are found in the Midtown parks.

There is also the first reference to jokertown police station being called ‘Fort Freak’ by Chris Claremont in his story ‘Luck Be A Lady’, long before it became a book tile decades later.

The real bones of this story is the rise of the jumpers who belong to the Immaculate Egrets street gang who can take over bodies and literally get away with murder and their victims taking the blame before returning to their own bodies. No one is safe. Well, maybe the Oddity, but only two-thirds. The build-up will catch you by surprise showing it’s all about the timing.

It’s very weird reading this book again and making some odd connections. Two of the aces, Cap’n Tripps has multiple personalities but Lazy Dragon and the Oddity (whose on the cover by the way) share bodies with relatives and friends and changes determines who’s in charge and with what abilities. Speaking of the Oddity, they also become the centre of the story ‘Sixteen Candles’ by Stephen Leigh when a jumper releases one of their number, Patty Roberts, into his body and trapped in their body instead.

Oh, in case you wondered about the book title, it might have something to do with how people become jumpers. As Tachyon’s grandson, Blaise, thinks, it’s a small price to pay to get the infection for such an ability. Remember you’re jumping into somebody else, commit an atrocious crime, jumping out and you taking the blame. I’m repeating it just in case you think it wasn’t me who said it the first time. Be very afraid.

‘One-Eyed Jacks’ is a pivotal moment in this reality’s history and one of the scariest ones and this is only build-up to the next two volumes of ‘The Rox Triad’ which has a great pay-off so you really do need to read this book first.

GF Willmetts

March 2019

(pub: TOR/Forge. 461 page enlarged paperback. Price: $19.99 (US), $25.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-250-16809-2)

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