cover image George R.R. Martin Presents Wild Cards: Sleeper Straddle: A Novel in Stories

George R.R. Martin Presents Wild Cards: Sleeper Straddle: A Novel in Stories

Edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass. Bantam, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-35783-5

Martin and Snodgrass continue the long-running Wild Cards series (after Pairing Up) with a fascinating anthology exploring the elusive character of the Sleeper. In 1946, an alien virus forever changed the course of humanity. Many who survived were transformed into inhuman jokers or blessed with amazing powers as aces—or some combination thereof. One of the first victims was 14-year-old New Yorker Croyd Crenson, who became known as the Sleeper for the way in which his powers change every time he sleeps, becoming folk hero, urban legend, and cautionary tale throughout the decades. In Christopher Rowe’s interstitial “Swimmer, Flier, Felon, Spy,” Croyd hires joker information broker Tesla to find five alternate versions of himself, the multiplicity a bizarre consequence of his latest manifestation. In tracking them down, Tesla interviews others who’ve met Croyd over the years, resulting in a grab bag of stories, including Carrie Vaughn’s “Days Go By,” set in 1961 Greenwich Village; “The Bloody Eagle” by Mary Anne Mohanraj, set in 2003 Sri Lanka; and Max Gladstone’s 2019-set “The Boy Who Would Be Croyd.” Despite the vast timeline, this volume barely scratches the surface of Sleeper lore. Nevertheless, it’s a satisfying sampling of Sleeper anecdotes, paying homage to the Roger Zelazny creation while reflecting the versatility of the Wild Cards franchise as a whole. Fans will be pleased. (Feb.)