Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time to Get Freaky

Yep. Today’s the day. Fort Freak (Wild Cards) hits the stores. I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy. It’s a really fun and interesting series, and I think our offering this time is quite a strong one.

Here's how the book is described on the jacket:

In 1946, an alien virus that rewrites human DNA was accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It killed ninety percent of those it infected. Nine percent survived, mutated into tragically deformed creatures. And one percent gained superpowers. The Wild Cards shared-universe series, created and edited by New York Times #1 bestseller George R. R. Martin (called “the American Tolkien” by Time), is the tale of the history of the world since then—and of the heroes among the one percent. Now, in the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel, we get to know the hardbitten world of Manhattan’s Fifth Precinct—or “Fort Freak,” as cops and malefactors alike call the cop-shop where every other desk sergeant, detective, and patrol officer is more than human.

You may say, “Yeah, but… mutants and weirdos? Not really my thing.” To which I’d say, “Well, that’s good. Mutants and weirdos can be dangerous.” But they can be a lot of fun to write about.

I first came across Wild Cards when I read a few selected stories published in George RR Martin’s Dreamsongs 3: Selections from Wild Cards and More Stories from Martin's Later Years. They weren’t the type of thing I expected to be interested in, but I got sucked in right away. Part of it is the wildly imaginative details of the stories. Part is that they can be sexy and profane and push some bizarre boundaries. Part is that they deal with a surprising number of serious issues and themes. Part is that I have a perverse attraction to stories of outsiders trying to make their way in the world. A lot of Wild Cards characters are that. In a big way.

I’d only read that handful of stories when George approached me about writing for the series. I was honored, surprised, excited and terrified in equal measure. Of course, I said “Yes” before I knew what I was getting into. And then I began throwing character ideas at him. The main one that stuck was Marcus Morgan, aka Infamous Black Tongue. He’s actually a joint creation thought up with the help of my son, Sage. In Marcus we have a teenager stricken with a massive physical change right in the middle of those difficult teen years. It’s a little more extreme than puberty, I assure you that. Writing about him was partially delving into comic book hero and mutant territory. His story has all the trappings of those genres. But at it’s also very much a story about a young man dealing with being rejected from his family, finding his way on his own, trying to figure out what he can be in the world, and if the future even holds a place for him at all.

Marcus is only one character in the book, though, and that part of the beauty of it. Fort Freak features stories by Cherie Priest, Paul Cornell, Stephen Leigh, John Jos. Miller, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Victor Milan, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Ty Franck. The different stories have very different tones and focuses, but they all build on a central story spine. Before I took part I wasn’t sure how vastly different writers writing different stories from their different cubby holes could possibly end up with a cohesive narrative. Now that it’s behind me… I’m still not sure how it all happened, except to verify that George is tough, smart, effective editor. Truth be known, he taught me a thing or two about writing in the process. I’m thankful for that.

That’s all I’ll say now, except that… Just for the record, I do think this could be an entry point for someone new to the series. There are some continuing threads in it, but there are lots of new, never before seen characters on display here. And the cool thing is that if it does tickle your fancy there are twenty some earlier books already out there in the world. It’s like the reverse of starting a new epic fantasy series!

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