Image of Wild Cards II: Aces High


Image of Wild Cards II: Aces High

Originally released in 1987, the second installment of the Wild Card series still reads fresh today. Comprised of short stories from various authors that follow two cohesive plot lines, Wild Cards II: Aces High delivers a slew of unique memorable characters, including lovable Jube the Walrus and the multifaceted Croyd Crenson (aka “The Sleeper”). Each story is distinguished by the unique voice of its author, but all nine tales come together to create a riveting adventure that will have you hooked on this long-running series.

Just after World War II an alien virus known as the Wild Card killed 90% of New York City residents. Of the survivors, 1% gained supernatural abilities and were turned into either “Aces” or “Jokers”. Aces appear as normal humans with special powers and Jokers are disfigured mutants. Notable stories in the collection include Lewis Shiner’s “Pennies from Hell,” in which Fortunato, an Ace who draws his powers from tantric sex, finds an odd coin that leads to an occult discovery. In Martin’s “Jube” stories, we meet a seemingly innocent Joker who is secretly an undercover alien sent to observe Earthlings and gets mixed up in a body-stealing scheme with criminal Croyd Crenson. Croyd’s story is continued in Roger Zelazny’s “Ashes to Ashes,” which follows the man on his search for a body that many Jokers and Aces are dying to get their hands on. (TOR, December 2011, 400 pp., $15.99)

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Reviewed by: 
Janine Johnston