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One-Eyed Jack
By Elizabeth Bear

Discussed March 2015

Buy from Amazon.com

Questions

  1. Bear’s One-Eyed Jack features several types of supernatural creatures: Mages, genii loci, vampires, and several types of ghosts (legendary ghosts, media ghosts, and “unquiet dead”). How did this “mix” affect your enjoyment of the novel?
  2. The “media ghosts” are described as “ghosts summoned up out of the collective unconscious”. Does Bear’s depiction of the media ghosts meet your expectations about the TV or film characters? Do you think their inclusion in this novel makes One-Eyed Jack a form of “fan fic”?
  3. The “legendary ghosts” are described as “New World demigods in the making”. (I suppose the same could also be said about the genii loci.) What do you think about Bear’s handling of this concept? If you have read other novels or stories containing a similar concept, how does Bear’s novel compare?
  4. One-Eyed Jack is filled with duos, partners, twins, and pairs. How well has Bear worked this theme into the novel?
  5. What do you think about Bear’s depiction about the relationship between Jack and Stewart? Is that the only LGBT content in the story?
  6. Do you think Jack is a “trickster” or a “culture hero” or both?
  7. The novel consists of two first-person narratives and a number of third-person narratives, each centering on a specific character. How did this affect your enjoyment of the story?
  8. The storyline contains several time-shifts. Do you think they were effectively worked into story?

Dramatis personae:

Animae (genii loci):

  • One-Eyed Jack (John Henry Kinkead) – Las Vegas
  • Suicide King (Stewart) – Las Vegas
  • Angel – Los Angeles
  • Goddess – Hollywood

Media Ghosts:

  • The Russian (Nikita) and the American (Sebastian)
  • The Scholar and the Athlete
  • The Widow and the Englishman (James)
  • The Assassin

Others:

  • Tribute (King) – vampire (formerly Elvis)
  • Jesse – ghost of Tribute’s twin (“unquiet dead”)
  • Sycorax – elder vampire
  • Ben “Bugsy” Siegel – ghost of the famous gangster (“unquiet dead”)
  • John Henry – legendary ghost
  • Doc Holliday – legendary ghost
  • Felix Luray – Mage (the last Promethean)

Promethean Age (novels):

  • Blood and Iron (2006)
  • Whiskey and Water (2007)
  • “The Stratford Man” duology:
    • Ink and Steel (2008)
    • Hell and Earth (2008)
  • One-Eyed Jack (2013)

Promethean Age (short stories):

  • “The Slaughtered Lamb” - The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity (2012)
  • “King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree” - Naked City: New Tales of Urban Fantasy (2011)
  • “Inelastic Collisions” - Inferno (2009)
  • “The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder” - Tor.com (September 2008)
  • “Sonny Liston Takes the Fall” - The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2008)
  • “Black is the Color” - Subterranean Magazine (Summer 2007)
  • “The Rest of Your Life in a Day” - Jim Baen’s Universe (October 2007)
  • “Cryptic Coloration” - Jim Baen’s Universe (June 2007)
  • “The Cold Blacksmith” - Jim Baen’s Universe (June 2006)
  • “Long Cold Day” - Sci Fiction (September 21, 2005)
  • “House of the Rising Sun” - The Third Alternative #42 (Summer 2005)
  • “One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King” - Lenox Avenue (March–April 2005)
  • “Botticelli ” - The Agony Column (February 2005)
  • “Follow Me Light” - Sci Fiction (January 12, 2005)
  • “Old Leatherwings” - Lenox Avenue (July 2004)
  • “The Company of Four” - Scheherazade issue #20
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