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Literature / Jokertown Shuffle

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Tor Books re-release cover spotlighting Lady Black

Jokertown Shuffle is the ninth Wild Cards book and the second in the "Jumpers" trilogy, continuing the events of One-Eyed Jacks.

New York City is gripped in fear as the Jumpers crisis escalate. Where once the Jumpers, special Wild Card victims who can switch minds with anyone they look at, were content with acts of vandalism and establishing their own society on Ellis Island, aka the Rox, they have since escalated to kidnapping, robbery, extortion, and murder. Their favorite tactic is to jump into someone wealthy, steal all their money, and ransom the body back.

At the center of crisis are the two opposing leaders of the Rox: Bloat, governor of the Jokers, and Blaise Tachyon, head of the Jumpers. While Bloat wants to establish a society for Jokers free from prosecution Blaise wants power over others. The book covers several interconnecting stories involving different people and their relation to the Rox:


  • "The Temptation of Hieronymus Bloat": Bloat narrates his own chapters about his governing of the Rox, his dealings with Blaise, his own self-worth, and his attempts to save Dr. Tachyon.
  • "And Hope to Die": Crime lord Kien Phuc decides to finish off his Arch-Enemy Yeoman once and for all, but only incurs his wrath when Yeoman's girlfriend Jennifer is shot.
  • "Lovers": A recurring story about Dr. Tachyon getting kidnapped by his grandson Blaise and held beneath the Rox.
  • "Madman Across the Water": Mark Meadows, the former Captain Trips, plans to break his daughter out of juvie.
  • "While Night’s Black Agents to Their Prey Do Rouse": Black Shadow conducts his own investigation into the Jumpers after running into an old friend.
  • "Riders": The continuing story of Veronica from One-Eyed Jacks and her recovery following the death or her lover Hannah.
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  • "Nobody Does it Alone": Jerry "Mr. Nobody" Strauss teams up with Veronica to take down Edward Latham, a powerful figure in the Jumpers hierarchy and the murderer of Jerry's brother.

The 2019 re-release added two more stories:

  • "The Unintended": A recurring story about detective Leo Strauss looking into a shoot-out at the Jokertown clinic.
  • "Unraveling": Justice department agent Joanne Jefferson conducts her own off-the-books investigation into the Rox.

This book contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Bloat and his Jokers commit unlawful acts but its in the service of creating a Joker haven; Blaise just wants to loot and pillage and control everyone and everything.
  • Body Snatcher: Besides the Jumpers doing this in general a specific instance happens to Dr. Tachyon getting his mind forcibly switched with a sixteen year old girl.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Tryptich of the Temptation of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch is looted by the Jumpers and delivered to Bloat at the beginning of the story, and serves as representation of how Bloat feels about the Rox. When the military accidentally destroys it at the climax Bloat snaps and uses his developing Reality Warper powers to bring the demons in the painting to life and chase off the military.
  • Hidden Depths: In the previous novel Bloat came off as a Fat Bastard Giggling Villain. Here in the chapters he narrates Bloat is shown to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who hides his insecurities behind creepy behavior, and is an art lover.
  • Monumental Damage: When the army attacks the Rox a jumper hijacks a helicopter pilot and accidentally knocks off the arm of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Rape as Drama: After Blaise switches Dr. Tachyon's body with his girlfriend he rapes Dr. Tachyon several times.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Why Bloat and Blaise cannot kill each other. Bloat needs Blaise's Jumpers to bring in supplies, and Blaise needs Bloat's psychic wall to keep out the authorities.