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Aces High (Wild Cards) [Paperback]

George R R Martin


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Mass Market Paperback 4.66  
Paperback, 20 Dec 2011 --  
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Product details

  • Paperback: 399 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reissue edition (20 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765326167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765326164
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.1 x 2.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 858,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Volume I 28 Dec 2011
By Art - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note that there are 10 reviews for the prior printing of this book if you want to look at them.

The main difference between this book and book 1 is that there is a unifying plot here -- bad monster from space, and evil cult type helpers on earth. If measured against the standards for a good plot in traditional books, it, lets be honest, falls pretty short. That said, the point of the series is the creativity and fun of the individual stories of the aces and jokers, and on that level this book succeeds even better than book 1. You get more Croyd (always fun), more Turtle, more Mark Meadows, who may or may not be the ace known as Radical, but displays new and fun "abilities" here, more Tachyon, the introduction of Jube as a main -- and very entertaining -- character, and the introduction to Modular Man, another great ace. Fortunato, who I dont really care for, is also here big time, as is the non-ace archer out for vengence.

I wish the plot was better, and the villains had more meat to them. But everything that made first book entertaining is here, plus a unifying plot which, while not great, definitely adds a little something over book 1.

If you liked book 1, no reason to hesitate.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Change of Pace From Wild Cards I 6 Sep 2012
By A. Harmon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For those who haven't read the first book in this series, Wild Cards I, it is a large composition of cooperative storytelling that involves the events and consequences surrounding an outbreak of superpowers. It is at turns complex, meaningful, intriguing and suspenseful - and as a concession to its medium of inspiration - a little bit cheesy. Great fun.

This book is a change of pace, and it set a pattern that many of the contributing authors would use for the series. (Kindle availability is spotty, so this may yet not be a big deal to you.) Instead of more than a dozen stories with their own beginnings and ends, Wild Cards II engages in fewer stories, all of which follow the same global event. The reading is just as enjoyable, but markedly different. Here's where I'll start dodging spoilers.

The event itself involves a threat from deep space that has some reminiscent ties to Lovecraftian horror. I feel it ties in to four-color comic book horror, which is to say there needn't be advanced motivations or sympathetic villains. The bad guys in this book are definitely bad guys. The good guys are incidental, though, and they maintain their heart-wrenching weaknesses from the first book. Turtle, Fortunato, Peregrine, Chrysalis, and Jube have all emerged from Wild Cards 1 with more than a couple scars and here we see the cracks showing. Dr. Tachyon is back as well, but as opposed to his arc in Wild Cards 1, he's better composed and wanting to fight the good fight.

Wild Cards has some popular legacy of being "realistic" but that term always bothers me in comics, sci-fi and fantasy. Realism isn't what we're here for, and it's highly subjective, so I'll try and put it another way: Wild Cards is about complex, vice-stricken characters whose weaknesses are sometimes physical and always emotional. They're strange, damaged goods, all wanting to fit into a world that doesn't want to accommodate them. You won't see spandex-clad poster children with paragon virtues. You'll see addicts, emotional burn-outs, grief-stricken has-beens, misguided egotists, and preening divas.

If you like the iconoclastic rejection of Four-Color Simple Times, you'll like this. If you're up for more of a campy, easy-going and broad story, you should consider other things.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun series, great on audio! 21 Feb 2012
By Kat Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:MP3 CD
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 "Jokers." A much smaller proportion of those who were infected gained one or more superpowers and are now known as "Aces." 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 individual's unique DNA, resulting in a completely different species of Joker and Ace each time it strikes. I don't really believe that this is how an alien virus would manifest (there's just not enough diversity in the human genome), but there's always something fresh and new in WILD CARDS -- it'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 Milán, Pat Cadigan, and John J. Miller. Amazingly -- and this is another thing that makes WILD CARDS work so well -- though it's an anthology, Aces High reads like a novel written by one author. This is a testament to Martin's excellent editorial skills, I'm sure. For one thing, all of the stories are written in a similar style -- they'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 stories' particulars correct but never repeating anything in a clumsily obvious attempt to show that they'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. Tachyon's relatives have tracked him down and want him to come home. Then there's the crazy old bag lady who'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. We'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 (he'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 there's even a couple of touching love stories for the tender-hearted reader.

I listened to Brilliance Audio's version of Aces High, read by Luke Daniels. That last phrase, "Read by Luke Daniels," should be Enough Said for anyone who's listened to him before. He's flawless and entertaining as always.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book 20 May 2014
By Shea Hagensicker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great read. Love the flaws that are obviously apparent in many of the leading characters. Doesn't follow character archetype to heavily. Really good book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book in the series. 15 April 2014
By Peter_A - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wasn't certain that the second book would be as good as the original Wild Cards but I was wrong. If you have read the first Wild Cards, you will not be disappointed by the follow up.
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