The fate of Terra hung on a turn of the cards
THE GRAND WHEEL
DAW 0-87997-318-8, 1977, cover art by Don Maitz
Fontana, 0-00-614863-8, 1979, cover art by unknown
Cosmo, 1983 (Italy) as "La Grande Ruota"
Cheyne Scarne was a gambler... and he took the big plunge when he bet his life to get to the inner circle of the Grand Wheel. Because the Wheel was the ultimate Syndicate - the final Mafia - that controlled all that was illegal in all the planets under human control.
But Cheyne was not to know whether he had won or lost when he gained his point. Because the Wheel had plans for him. And they made him the historic offer he could not refuse.
There was, it seemed, a similar gambling combine in the rest of the galaxy, bigger by far than the little group of stars held by Earthlings. And the Wheel wanted a cut in this. So Cheyne Scarne found himself selected to be humanity's own player in a game in which nobody knew the value of the cards and the rules of the game were infinitely variable!
Science fiction with a difference! By the author of COLLISION COURSE and THE FALL OF CHRONOPOLIS.
"Bayley has a delightfully fertile imagination, formulating his preposterous concepts with seeming ease, then slotting them into his vigorous narratives and developing them with such thoroughness that any reader with a sense of wonder cannot fail to be carried along by the sheer intellectual stimulus of the ideas." - Chris Evans
[read Colin Greenland's review of the book] - at your own caution!
Barrington Bayley: "In THE GRAND WHEEL I had two aims: to write an example of a pulp 'lead novel' and to follow in the footsteps of Philip Dick. In the latter I was too successful: the first outline I submitted reproduced the plot of THE GAME PLAYERS OF TITAN, which I hadn't read at the time."