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Melinda Snodgrass

Melinda Snodgrass(1951- )
Melinda Snodgrass was a story editor and executive script consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her acclaimed episode, “The Measure of a Man,” was nominated for the Writer’s Guild Award for outstanding writing in a drama series. With George R.R. Martin, she co-created the popular Wild Cards series of shared-world novels and anthologies. She lives in New Mexico. Learn more at Melinda Snodgrass’s website.

The Edge

The Edge — (2008-2015) Publisher: Since the dawn of consciousness, a secret war has been fought between the forces of magic and religious fanaticism, and the cause of reason, understanding, and technology. On one side are the Old Ones, malign entities that feed on the suffering of mankind. On the other are the Lumina, an ancient order dedicated the liberation of the human spirit. Officer Richard Oort of the Albuquerque Police Department is caught in the middle of this primal battle when he rescues a mysterious teenage girl from a trio of inhuman hunters. Recruited by the Lumina to serve as their latest paladin, Richard ends up fighting beside a handful of unlikely allies, including an adolescent sorceress, an enigmatic philanthropist, a sexy coroner, and a homeless god with multiple personalities. The Old Ones and their mortal pawns are determined to destroy Richard — or subvert him to their cause. And they have all powers of magic and organized religion at their disposal. As the gates between the universes shred apart, it may be up to Richard to save humanity from the endless horror of a new Dark Age. Provocative as The Golden Compass or the Illuminatus! trilogy, The Edge of Reason dramatizes the fundamental conflict behind the hot-button issues of today… and the future of the human race.

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The Edge of Reason: Rationalism vs. religion

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The Edge of Reason: Rationalism vs. religion

Richard Oort, a police officer in Albuquerque, finds out that he is a paladin for the forces of rationality and science. He is recruited in the fight against the forces of evil: Cthulhu-esque beings from another dimension who feed on humanity's fears and pain to break through to our world and use religion to gain power by spreading hatred and fear.

The Edge of Reason is set in the present day but successfully ties the history of various myths and religions into its background. At times, the "religion = bad" message is a bit heavy (and I can imagine some people taking offense to it), but at the same time, it manages to turn this fantasy novel into a sharp social commentary that, depending on your political views, may or may not make you nod in agreement. Regardless, the connection between religion and a Chtulhu-type in... Read More

The Edge of Ruin: Science vs superstition, round two

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The Edge of Ruin by Melinda Snodgrass

The Edge of Ruin is a direct sequel to The Edge of Reason, an excellent present-day fantasy novel by Melinda Snodgrass in which Chtulhu-esque beings use religion to generate emotions like fear and anger, enabling them to enter our dimension. It's an unusual and original concept that led to a fascinating novel.

Unfortunately The Edge of Ruin is not quite as strong as the first novel in the EDGE series. At the start of the novel, things are in extreme disarray: Lumina's leader, Kenntnis, is incapicated; Richard Oort, the cop-turned-paladin-of-reason, is trying to get a handle on both the Lumina enterprise and his family; and worst of all, the invading Chtulhu beings have established a beachhead in our dimension, making it all the more urgent for Richard &... Read More

Busted Flush: Not very satisfying

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Busted Flush edited by George R.R. Martin

Busted Flush is the nineteenth entry in the Wild Cards series of mosaic novels edited by George R.R. Martin. The previous book, Inside Straight is something of a new beginning for the series, a new trilogy with new characters and a couple of new writers. It's a good point to get started. Unfortunately Busted Flush falls a bit short of the standard set in the first book of the Committee trilogy.

The story picks up some time after the events in Inside Straight. The UN secretary-general has snapped up the new American heroes after their dramatic performance in Egypt and formed the Committee — a group of Aces dealing with everything from genocide to natural disasters.There is plenty of work; our heroes are spread thin. In fact, the cracks in their organis... Read More

Wild Cards: Now on audio

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Wild Cards edited by George R.R. Martin

Sept 15, 1946: Wild Card Day. When aliens from the planet Takis wanted to test their newly developed virus on a species that is similar to them, naturally, they brought it to Earth. Though they were thwarted by one of their own princes, a foppish alien who has become known to Earthlings as Dr. Tachyon, the virus fell into the hands of evil Dr. Tod, a Nazi sympathizer who, thinking it a biological weapon, decided to drop it on New York City. His archenemy, Jetboy, tried to stop him in a now-legendary air battle above Manhattan, but Jetboy was unsuccessful. When the virus was dumped on New York City, it killed 90% of the people it infected. Nine out of every ten who lived mutated into strange, often hideous, creatures who became known as “Jokers” while one in ten developed a special superpower and became an “Ace.”

WILD CARDS i... Read More

Aces High: There’s always something fresh and new in WILD CARDS

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Aces High edited by George R.R. Martin

Aces High is the second volume of George R.R. Martin’s long-running WILD CARDS anthology. In the first volume, Wild Cards, we learned how aliens from the planet Takis decided to test their new virus by using humans as their guinea pigs. In the 1960s, they let loose what has now become known as the Wild Card virus on Manhattan. Much of the world population died and many of the survivors became grossly deformed and are now referred to as “Jokers.” A much smaller proportion of those who were infected gained one or more superpowers and are now known as “Aces.” In Wild Cards, we followed several Aces and Jokers as they dealt not only with their new status in life, but also with the social and political events of the 1960s.

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Jokers Wild: Another WILD CARDS romp

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Jokers Wild edited by George R.R. Martin

Jokers Wild (1987) is the third in George R.R. Martin’s WILD CARDS series. The WILD CARDS books are anthologies and mosaic novels set in a shared world and containing a large cast of regular characters. Authors contributing to Jokers Wild are Edward Bryant, Leanne C. Harper, George R.R. Martin, John J. Miller, Lewis Shiner, Walter Simons, and Melinda M. Snodgrass. Each author handles the perspective of a particular character and, under George R.R. Martin’s amazing editorship, the different perspectives and plotlines magically... Read More

Aces Abroad: Aces and Jokers tour the world

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Aces Abroad edited by George R.R. Martin

Aces Abroad is the fourth WILD CARDS anthology edited by George R.R. Martin. It was originally published in 1988, released in a new print edition by Tor in 2015, and released in audio format by Random House Audio in March 2016. It would be best to read the previous volumes (Wild Cards, Aces High, Jokers Wild) first, not only because they introduce the most important characters and provide a lot of background information that you’ll need to fully appreciate Aces Abroad, but also because those first three books are more entertaining than this one is and represent the series better, I think.

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Down and Dirty: Lacks cohesion, but still entertaining

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Down and Dirty edited by George R.R. Martin

Jube: Hear who won the Miss Jokertown Beauty Pageant last week?
Croyd: Who?
Jube: Nobody.


I continue to listen to the new audiobook version of the WILD CARDS books as they are released by Random House Audio. Down and Dirty, the fifth volume, was published a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read the previous volumes (Wild CardsAces High, Jokers Wild, Aces Abroad), you should do so before reading this review. I’ll assume you’re familiar with the format of these anthologies / mosaic novels, and the story so far.

Down and Dirty (originally published in 1988) has a strange structure which, as Read More

Ace in the Hole: WILD CARDS gets back on track

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Ace in the Hole edited by George R.R. Martin

Ace in the Hole (1990), the sixth WILD CARDS mosaic novel, is a vast improvement over the last two novels (Aces Abroad and Down and Dirty). Down and Dirty, especially, lacked cohesion due to George R.R. Martin’s lack of editorial control over his authors, something he laments in that book’s afterword. I suspect the experience was a good lesson because he’s fixed the issue in Ace in the Hole. You’d never know the story was written by several different authors ( Read More

Inside Straight: A WILD CARDS reboot

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Inside Straight edited by George R.R. Martin

The year 2008 saw the (second?) rebirth of the WILD CARDS series edited and co-written by George R.R. Martin. These are ‘mosaic’ novels — stories written by several authors and set in a shared universe. The first book, Wild Cards, appeared in 1987. Inside Straight (2008) is book 18. To make this 18th book a good entry point, Martin and his companions created something of a Wild Cards: the Next Generation to reboot the series.

What do you need to know about the back story of the Wild Cards? Not a lot really. In 1946 an alien virus hit earth. It killed ninety percent of those infected, disfigured nine percent and left a lucky one percent with su... Read More

Suicide Kings: Surprising depth

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Suicide Kings edited by George R.R. Martin

Suicide Kings is the third part in the latest reincarnation of the long-running WILD CARDS series. Together with Inside Straight and Busted Flush it forms the Committee trilogy. I guess you could consider this trilogy WILD CARDS the next generation. These books are meant to be an entry point for new readers. Like most of the previous novels, Suicide Kings is a collaborative effort. This volume is written by six authors — Daniel Abraham, S.L. Farrell, Victor Milán, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Caroline Sp... Read More

Fort Freak: A WILD CARDS novel that can be read as a stand-alone

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Fort Freak by George R.R. Martin

Fort Freak is the twenty-first entry in the WILD CARDS universe, a long running series of mosaic novels edited by George R.R. Martin. It is not necessary to have read the previous twenty volumes to read this one; Fort Freak works fine as a standalone. There are numerous references to earlier books and cameos by characters that starred in them, but nothing that makes it absolutely necessary to have read earlier volumes. That is probably a good thing. The WILD CARDS series is currently published by Tor, the fourth publisher to take on this series. Some of the older volumes are pretty hard to find these days. The original WILD CARDS novel (1987) has been reprinted by Tor recently, with a number o... Read More

Songs of Love and Death: Tales of star-crossed lovers

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Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Songs of Love and Death is the third anthology that George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have edited together. Like Warriors and Songs of the Dying EarthSongs of Love and Death brings together some of the biggest names that SFF has to offer and they set these authors to work on a common theme.

Martin and Dozois offer a cross-genre anthology that ranges from Robin Hobb’s epic fantasy “Blue Boots,” which tells the story of a romance between a young serving girl and a silver-tongued minstrel, to  Read More

More speculative fiction by Melinda Snodgrass

Circuit — (1986-1988) Publisher: The setting is the moon, where newfound industrial strength gives the frontier communities a chance to show independence from the Earth nations that established them. A leading constitutionalist and friend of the U.S. president, Justice Cabot Huntington is sent in to regain control. The stiff-necked judge looks forward to writing precedents for space law, but when his first decision leads to the death of Soviet miners he must reevaluate his position and acknowledge his own complicity in the deadly power struggle that comes to implicate both the Russian and American leaders in the miners’ murders.

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Stand-alones:

science fiction book review Melinda Snodgrass Runespear

Runespear — (1987) With Victor Milán. In this adventure fantasy set in pre-war Germany, three old friends meet. Their reunion is interrupted by the Gestapo. They are taken to see Himmler who despatches them to Greenland in search of a mythical spear belonging to God Odin. Victor Milan has also written “The War of the Powers” trilogy.Queen's Gambit Decliined


Queen’s Gambit Declined — (1989) Publisher: William, Prince of Orange, learns that it is not political machinations but black magic that is keeping him from the throne, and he enlists the powers of The White Goddess to stem the rising tide of darkness.


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World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Two

I'm reporting about Day 2 today. Read about Day One here.

There were lots of interesting panels today, and it was frustrating to try to boil them down into the ones I wanted to see.

My first choice was “Retelling Old Stories: The New Fairy Tales.” I’ve got all the modern fairy tale collections edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow and many other rewritings, so I was eager to hear this discussion, and it didn’t disappoint. The first question addressed by the panel was the obvious one: why rewrite fairy tales? Jessica Day George Read More