Inside Straight

As I have mentioned before, I don’t really like short stories, but Inside Straight, edited by George R.R. Martin, was simply fantastic. The novel is classified as a “mosaic,” a term I haven’t seen applied to books before, and is a collection of stories written by different authors, all contributing to a centralized purpose. Rather than a lose thematic tie, there was clear collaboration between the contributors, and each story, though written by a different person, furthered the overall plot of the book.

It seemed that one author in particular guided the work, as his stories comprised the majority of the book, but I was very impressed nonetheless. A mosaic method of book creation brings a refreshing variety of styles and viewpoints to the novel, and with a solid editor such as Martin, the concept shines. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in parallels to our modern day world, fantasy or scifi, or superheroes. Inside Straight is far more than a collection of short stories, so check it out.

Wild Cards

While we were at the library last night, I picked up a scifi/fantasy book of short stories that I hadn’t heard of before. Apparently, it is written/organized by George R.R. Martin (he had edited this particular book, at least, and the website mentions him prominently), but I’ve somehow never heard of it before.

The premise is that, shortly after World War II, some alien virus spreads over the world and everyone gets some sort of “Card” effect. I don’t know if there’s a literal deck from which people draw or if that’s just how the people have come to explain it, but the books seem to (at least in the first two stories I’ve read) relate the tales of those who “drew cards” that gave them amazing powers and abilities.

Specifically, the book I’m reading talks about those who are Aces. Individuals with super powers, like the ability to fly or teleport or, in the case of the second story, turn into bugs. They are not really superheroes because they don’t necessarily do heroic things, but they are super. And while I don’t normally like short stories, the idea intrigues me.

As a general rule, I avoid books like this because the story always ends just as I get really interested. Short stories tend to climax quick, then end, and I’m always left wanting more. They’re not satisfying. But I get the impression that this book (and hopefully the others published along the same lines) have an overarching theme or some sort of plot to tie them together. A common thread that will make itself known throughout or by the end of the book that will have made it worthwhile.

Of course, it may not. That’s just the impression I have gotten in the first twenty  pages, and if it’s off-base, I’ll probably never read one of these books again. But it’s worth a try (especially when I haven’t read anything just for entertainment in so long).