Wild Cards Volume IX — Jokertown Shuffle
Jokertown Shuffle directly follows the events of One-Eyed Jacks, but concentrates more on the jokers' point of view as Bloat consolidates his hold on the Rox and his relationship with the jumpers. His stories, The Temptation of Hieronymous Bloat, Parts I-XI, make up the bulk of this book, tracing his evolution from tenuous leader of a growing resistance against the nats, to an operation that brings money, food and safety to the jokers under his care. Bloat's story runs in conjunction with Lovers, Parts I-VI, which deals with Blaise’s vendetta against Tachyon, who is kidnapped, jumped into the body of teenage girl, and made his sex slave.
The cover shown here depicts Bloat surrounded by jumpers on the Rox. Bloat looks very small here compared to how he is described in the book. Note that Kafka can be seen at the far left. The art was by comic book artist Timothy Truman.
- A triptych by Heironymous Bosch, The Temptation of St. Anthony, appears in Bloat's storyline. This is an actual work of art located at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. In Jokertown Shuffle, the triptych is stolen and given to Bloat as a gift. At the climax of his story the triptych is destroyed.
Black Shadow "You gave me the name, but I haven't said yes to the deal."
The Bloat "Yes, you did. You just never said it out loud."
Jokertown Shuffle contains the following stories:
|"The Temptation of Hieronymous Bloat"||Stephen Leigh||The eleven chapters of Bloat’s story follow him from being an ineffectual leader with one parlor trick (Bloat’s wall) to a respected and even feared power. Bloat comes up with schemes that turn the Jumpers into a money-making enterprise, instead of a dangerous pack of disturbed teens. The island is attacked by U.S. Army and police forces, but they survive. When space on the Rox becomes tight, the Bloat's rapidly maturing powers magically create caverns below the island (which was built on landfill).|
|"And Hope to Die"||John Jos. Miller||Kien Phuc orders the assassination of Daniel Brennan and Jennifer Maloy. Brennan escapes harm, but Jennifer is injured. Taking Jennifer and the remaining Manikins to the Jokertown Clinic, Brennan seeks Dr. Tachyon’s help, little realizing Tachyon’s own plight. The mysterious ace called Trace steps in, sending Brennan into a shadowy dreamworld to draw Jennifer from her coma. Brennan's rescue mission becomes the final battle with Kien when the crimelord tries to finish the job his flunkies couldn’t.|
|"Lovers"||Melinda Snodgrass||In six parts, Lovers tells of Blaise Andrieux’s abuse of his grandfather, trapped in Kelly Ann Jenkins’s body. Raped by Blaise, Dr Tachyon eventually realizes that he/she is pregnant and demands better treatment. While trying to rebuild some measure of telepathy, Tachyon comes into mental contact with the Bloat. Months later, she is rescued, and when Blaise realizes his plans have all failed, he flees to Takis with Tachyon’s body. Tachyon remains stuck on Earth, a blessed event looming in her near future.|
|"Madmen Across the Water"||Victor Milán||Mark Meadows is hiding out on the Rox, biding his time when he meets K.C. Strange. Together they plot to rescue Sprout from the Reeves Diagnostic and Development Institute. K.C. is also feeding information to Blaise, who decides to use the rescue as an opportunity to kill Mark. The rescue becomes and ambush with police forces thrown in to boot. Mark eventually escapes, but at a great cost.|
|"While Night’s Black Agents to Their Prey Do Rouse"||Walter Jon Williams||In this two chapter story, Black Shadow encounters an old acquaintance who has been ‘jumped for money’ With Croyd Crenson’s help, Shad breaks up the “Jump the Rich” scheme, killing some jumpers and rescuing a warehouse full of jokers and rich nats. After a slight side-trip to the USSA, Shad reaches the Rox with plans to kill all the jumpers, but the Bloat convinces him to rescue Dr. Tachyon instead.|
|"Riders"||Lew Shiner||Veronica, one of Fortunato's former geishas, investigates Hannah Jorde’s death and uncovers a tapestry of lies, deceit and more death. Her reunion with fellow WORSE member Zelda doesn't go well.|
|"Nobody Does It Alone"||Walton Simons||All of Jokertown assumes Dr. Tachyon to be dead, killed by jumpers. Jerry Strauss continues his investigation into the jumper's creator, "Loophole" Latham, and once again crosses paths with Veronica. After a few nasty situations, they plot to get past Zelda, the Bodysnatcher, to assassinate Prime but things never go exactly to plan.|