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Aces High by George R. R. Martin
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Aces High

by George R. R. Martin (Editor)

Other authors: Pat Cadigan (Contributor), George R. R. Martin (Contributor), Victor Milán (Contributor), John J. Miller (Contributor), Lewis Shiner (Contributor)4 more, Walton Simons (Contributor), Melinda M. Snodgrass (Contributor), Walter Jon Williams (Contributor), Roger Zelazny (Contributor)

Series: Wild Cards (2)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.
3.5 stars

Aces High is the second volume of George R.R. Martin??s long-running WILD CARDS anthology. In the first volume, Wild Cards, we learned how aliens from the planet Takis decided to test their new virus by using humans as their guinea pigs. In the 1960s, they let loose what has now become known as the Wild Card virus on Manhattan. Much of the world population died and many of the survivors became grossly deformed and are now referred to as ƒ??Jokers.ƒ? A much smaller proportion of those who were infected gained one or more superpowers and are now known as ƒ??Aces.ƒ? In Wild Cards, we followed several Aces and Jokers as they dealt not only with their new status in life, but also with the social and political events of the 1960s.

Aces High, which is named after the upscale restaurant at the top of the Empire State Building that caters to Aces, is set in the early 1980s. The Wild Card virus continues to exert its effects on the Earth, regularly producing malformed Jokers and occasionally creating a new Ace. One thing that makes this series so interesting is that the Wild Card virus mixes with each individualƒ??s unique DNA, resulting in a completely different species of Joker and Ace each time it strikes. I donƒ??t really believe that this is how an alien virus would manifest (thereƒ??s just not enough diversity in the human genome), but thereƒ??s always something fresh and new in WILD CARDS ƒ?? itƒ??s not constrained by the character types laid down at the beginning of the series.

This installment contains stories by Lewis Shiner, George R.R. Martin, Walter Jon Williams, Roger Zelazny, Walton Simons, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Victor Mil?­n, Pat Cadigan, and John J. Miller. Amazingly ƒ?? and this is another thing that makes WILD CARDS work so well ƒ?? though itƒ??s an anthology, Aces High reads like a novel written by one author. This is a testament to Martinƒ??s excellent editorial skills, Iƒ??m sure. For one thing, all of the stories are written in a similar style ƒ?? theyƒ??re all fast-paced, focused on character and action, and have similar amounts of description and dialogue. A couple of the stories are divided into several parts that appear as interludes between the other stories, making it feel like a novel with chapters from different points of view. But more importantly, every story fits snugly in its place and refers to characters and events in the other stories, always getting the other storiesƒ?? particulars correct but never repeating anything in a clumsily obvious attempt to show that theyƒ??re connected. I envision Martin taking all of these individual stories and adding in these clever little details to make it flow so smoothly. The end result is brilliant.

This time the Aces are dealing with an Egyptian Masonic Temple and the Swarm aliens they want to bring to Earth. Meanwhile, Dr. Tachyonƒ??s relatives have tracked him down and want him to come home. Then thereƒ??s the crazy old bag lady whoƒ??s carrying around a Singularity Shifter in her bag. All of these threads are eventually weaved together.

Some of the characters in Aces High are ones we met in the first volume: Fortunato the pimp, Croyd Crenson the sleeper (who is now considered and Ace rather than a Joker), the Magnificent Turtle, Dr. Mark Meadows (Captain Trips) and Yeoman. Weƒ??re introduced in this installment to Jube the Walrus, the paperboy who is really an alien; Modular Man, the sensitive robot who has a conscience (heƒ??s one of my favorites); Demise, who can kill people by staring at them; The Astronomer, the evil guy who runs the Masonic Temple; Water Lily, who can suck all the water out of a human body; and Kafka who, as his name implies, has metamorphed into a giant cockroach. Though most of the villains in Aces High are comically two-dimensional (the whole series has a superhero comic strip vibe), the stories themselves are unique and exciting and thereƒ??s even a couple of touching love stories for the tender-hearted reader.

I listened to Brilliance Audioƒ??s version of Aces High, read by Luke Daniels. That last phrase, ƒ??Read by Luke Daniels,ƒ? should be Enough Said for anyone whoƒ??s listened to him before. Heƒ??s flawless and entertaining as always. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This was pretty good, not quite a 4. Again it was short stories, but much more tightly bound together over the course of the book. There were several definite objectives that went through each story. Very well done. Several new characters were also introduced, but one of my favorites is Cap'n Tripps. Croyd also makes several short appearances. Lots of fun. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Jun 19, 2013 |
More Wild Cards! I actually enjoyed this a little more, because I found the hardcore McCarthyism that the first volume was written around both distasteful, which was the point, and tedious, which probably wasn't. The alien invasion was not really as interesting as the surrounding social commentary, but at least it kept people busy for a while. ( )
  JeremyPreacher | Mar 30, 2013 |
...I guess this volume signals change for the reader. It exchanges some variety and distinctness found in the first volume for a more solid story arc in the second. I don't think the series would have lasted twenty-five years and produced twenty-one volumes (I understand there is a twenty-second in the works continuing the Fort Freak story line). It also shifts the focus a bit from the Aces and Jokers to the various alien races that inhabit the Wild cards universe. Maybe doing both at once is a bit too much of a good thing but who can resits a dose of horrific extraterrestrials, superheroes who are both tragic and heroic (and never end up with the girl) and some fine over the top fighting scenes to keep the adrenaline going? Aces High is both massively entertaining and a solid foundation for the rest of the series. I can't wait for the reissue of the third volume: Jokers Wild.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Jan 18, 2012 |
Aces High is a high class, and high up restaurant catering to the Aces, the Wild Card victims with powers. It is expensive and snooty, run by one of their own, a man named Hiram Worchester, who has the ability to control weight.

The Aces have two serious problems in this book, and the stories all relate to these somehow, the menace of the alien Swarm, and the crazy black magic style power use of the Astronomer, a geeky crazed black magician type.

The other memorable nasty, Demise, with his death gaze and regeneration abilities, also is introduced in "If Looks Could Kill".

Wild Cards 02 : 01 Pennies from Hell - Lewis Shiner
Wild Cards 02 : 02 Jube: One - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 03 Unto the Sixth Generation: Prologue - Walter Jon Williams
Wild Cards 02 : 04 Jube: Two - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 05 Ashes to Ashes - Roger Zelazny
Wild Cards 02 : 06 Unto the Sixth Generation: Part One - Walter Jon Williams
Wild Cards 02 : 07 Unto the Sixth Generation: Part Two - Walter Jon Williams
Wild Cards 02 : 08 Jube: Three - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 09 If Looks Could Kill - Walton Simons
Wild Cards 02 : 10 Jube: Four - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 11 Unto the Sixth Generation: Epilogue - Walter Jon Williams
Wild Cards 02 : 12 Winter's Chill - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 13 Jube: Five - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 14 Relative Difficulties - Melinda M. Snodgrass
Wild Cards 02 : 15 With a Little Help From His Friends - Victor Milán
Wild Cards 02 : 16 Jube: Six - George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards 02 : 17 By Lost Ways - Pat Cadigan
Wild Cards 02 : 18 Mr. Koyama's Comet - Walter Jon Williams
Wild Cards 02 : 19 Half Past Dead - John J. Miller
Wild Cards 02 : 20 Jube: Seven - George R. R. Martin

Fortunato meets a nice girl to go along with his geisha collection, but his pursuit of the Masons through rare coins has terrible consequences.

5 out of 5

Walrus boy ain't what he seems.

4 out of 5

An ally makes a desperate teleportation attempt to warn Jube of the Swarm.

4 out of 5

The death of his alien ally and the loss of the singularity shifter and a garbled message of warning distracts Jube from the xmas cheer.

4 out of 5

The death of his alien ally and the loss of the singularity shifter and a garbled message of warning distracts Jube from the xmas cheer.

4 out of 5

Jube hires Croyd to find the alien corpse, and anything with it. Devil John biffo.

4 out of 5

Modular Man made, Swarm invade.

4 out of 5

Singularity shifting. Don't try and mind-control androids.

3.5 out of 5

When Jube realises his ally meant the Swarm, he knows he needs the power of the Singularity Shifter rather more urgently.

3.5 out of 5

Astronomer hires Demise eyes.

4.5 out of 5

Jube enlists the transparent infobroker.

3 out of 5

Punks find Shifter.

2.5 out of 5

Girl shy Turtle.

4.5 out of 5

Astronomer, Swarm, Takisians all prove to be a little overwhelming.

3 out of 5

Captain Trips drops back in, as Tachyon's relatives show bad timing, capture them, Turtle, and others.

5 out of 5

Tachyon and Trips vs Takisians and Swarm for the fate of the world.

5 out of 5

On the Mason trail.

3 out of 5

Astronomer has hostages and Shakhti machine, but the Aces rally for a raid.

4 out of 5

Swarm sighting.

3 out of 5

Yeoman finds the Singularity Shifter while taking out Egrets. When Tachyon learns of this, he has a plan to take the fight to the Swarm.

5 out of 5

Jube tells Red about some aliens and decides his allegiances are local.

3.5 out of 5

http://superprose.blogspot.com/2006/11/wild-cards-2-aces-high.html ( )
  makenew3 | Aug 18, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin, George R. R.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cadigan, PatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martin, George R. R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Milán, VictorContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miller, John J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shiner, LewisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simons, WaltonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Snodgrass, Melinda M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, Walter JonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zelazny, RogerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553264648, Mass Market Paperback)

30 years later, the victims of the gene-altering 'Wild Cards' virus face a new nightmare. From the far reaches of space comes The Swarm, a deadly menace that could very will destroy the planet. Aces and Jokers must form an uneasy alliance and prepare for a battle they must not lose. When a group of SF's most imaginative writers discovered they shared a secret love of the larger-than-life heroes of the four-colour comics and Saturday matinee serials, they gave each other a challenge: What would our world be like if these superhuman heroes and villains had been real flesh-and-blood men and women who lived through this century's most turbulent history? In WILD CARDS 2, the year is 1970. The place is New York City, home of Aces High, the glamourous lounge atop the Empire State Building, and Jokertown, the squalid residence of the city's underclass. The victims of the Wild Card Virus are no longer new and strange, but neither are they accepted by a world that still fears them. But as the '80s dawn, all eyes are drwn to the skies, and the Wild Cards may be the planet's only hope, as an abomination called the Swarm arrives to threaten Earth.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:11 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"After the alien virus struck humanity in the wake of World War II, a handful of the survivors found they possessed superhuman powers. The Wild Cards shared-world volumes tell their story. Here in book two, we trace these heroes and villains through the tumultuous 1980s, in stories from SF and fantasy giants such as George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Pat Cadigan, Lewis Shiner, Walter Jon Williams, and others"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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