edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass
Format: Hardcover, 361 pages
Cover Art: Michael Komarck
Release Date: November 4, 2014ISBN-13: 978-0765331953
Like the previous book in the Wild Cards series, Fort Freak, Lowball focuses on the cops and the poor, deformed residents of Jokertown. In this book, jokers are going missing and except for a young cop looking to prove himself, the authorities are unwilling to investigate. This means that the jokers and other wild cards take matters into their own hands. The deeper they get, the higher the stakes get and the seedier the search becomes.
Like the previous books in this long-running series, the stars are the characters: the aces and jokers drastically changed by the Wild Card virus. Characterization and interaction are both mostly good. Most of the stories are good, though like Fort Freak I didn’t care for all the contributing authors. Cassutt’s writing has just never worked for me. And in Mohanraj’s story, a character makes a rather stupid decision that felt like it was done purely for drama.
Unfortunately, there also seemed to be an editing problem. While some of the stories are good, the whole was less than the sum of its parts. Stories by Vaughn and Tregillis were well written, but they featured characters from the previous series Committee “triad” and it felt like they were only included in order to carry the plot forward.
The plot was one of the weakest parts of the book. It took a little while to get going and felt a bit like a B-movie/TV story. It’s also a bit thin and while it mostly gets resolved by the end of the book, the reader suddenly gets a strange cliffhanger ending.
So all in all, Lowball is a decent Wild Cards book, but not a very satisfying one. It has good characters and interactions; however, the B-movie/TV plot feels a bit stretched. And while some of the stories are good, the whole is less than the sum of its parts.