The “Wild Cards” series is a captivating blend of science fiction and superhero genres, offering readers an alternate history of post-World War II United States. The series is a collaborative effort, written by a collection of over forty authors, collectively known as the “Wild Cards Trust.” The masterminds behind this shared universe are none other than George R. R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass.
- Wild Cards (1987) – The book that started it all, introducing readers to the aftermath of the alien virus.
- Aces High (1987) – Delving deeper into the lives of Aces, the individuals blessed (or cursed) with superhuman abilities.
- Jokers Wild (1987) – A closer look at the Jokers, those who bore visible scars from the virus.
- Aces Abroad (1988) – Taking the narrative global, this installment explores the impact of the virus outside the United States.
- Down and Dirty (1988) – A gritty portrayal of the battles and politics within the Wild Cards universe.
- Ace in the Hole (1990) – A deep dive into the political intrigues surrounding the Wild Cards.
- Dead Man’s Hand (1990) – A thrilling tale of vengeance and justice.
- One-Eyed Jacks (1991) – Exploring the darker side of the Wild Cards universe.
- Jokertown Shuffle (1991) – A focus on the Jokers and their struggles in society.
- Double Solitaire (1992) – A solo novel by Snodgrass, adding depth to the series.
- Dealer’s Choice (1992) – The stakes get higher as the Wild Cards universe expands.
- Turn of the Cards (1993) – A solo novel by Milán, bringing new perspectives to the series.
- Card Sharks (1993) – Introducing a new threat to the Wild Cards universe.
- Marked Cards (1994) – As the name suggests, marked individuals play a pivotal role in this installment.
- Black Trump (1995) – A game-changing book that reshapes the Wild Cards universe.
- Deuces Down (2002) – Shining a light on the lesser-known characters of the series.
- Death Draws Five (2006) – A solo novel by Miller, adding another layer to the series.
- Inside Straight (2008) – A fresh take on the Wild Cards universe, introducing new characters and challenges.
- Busted Flush (2008) – The stakes get even higher as new players enter the game.
- Suicide Kings (2009) – A thrilling installment filled with suspense and action.
- Fort Freak (2011) – Exploring the lives of those affected by the virus in Fort Freak.
- Lowball (2014) – Delving deeper into the underbelly of the Wild Cards universe.
- High Stakes (2016) – As the name suggests, the stakes have never been higher.
- Mississippi Roll (2017) – Taking readers on a journey down the Mississippi.
- Low Chicago (2018) – A thrilling tale set in the windy city.
- Texas Hold ‘Em (2018) – Bringing the Wild Cards universe to the heart of Texas.
- Knaves Over Queens (2019) – A fresh perspective on the Wild Cards universe.
- Joker Moon (2021) – A deep dive into the world of Jokers.
- Three Kings (2022) – Introducing new rulers and challenges in the Wild Cards universe.
- Full House (2022) – A culmination of various storylines, bringing them together.
- Pairing Up (2023) – The latest installment as of 2023, taking the series to new heights.
- Sleeper Straddles (TBA) – An upcoming book that promises to bring new twists and turns.
The series traces its roots back to a campaign of the Superworld role-playing game, gamemastered by Martin. The idea for the series was born out of the desire to approach superhero stories in a more mature and gritty manner, diverging from the typical narratives of the 1980s.
The “Wild Cards” universe is unique in its approach to superpowers, attributing them to a single source: a virus. This virus, known as the Wild Card virus, was an alien bioweapon designed to rewrite DNA. Its effects are unpredictable, leading to a range of outcomes from death to superhuman abilities.
The story kicks off with an airborne alien virus being released over New York City in 1946. This virus, which was intended to be a bioweapon, was brought to Earth for testing on humans by an alien noble family from the planet Takis. The virus proves to be lethal for 90% of those infected.
The survivors, however, undergo significant transformations. Some, known as Jokers, develop physical deformities, while others, termed Aces, gain superhuman abilities. A smaller group, referred to as Deuces, possess minor powers that aren’t particularly significant.
The “Wild Cards” series, with its intricate blend of science fiction and superhero elements, has enjoyed a rich publishing history that spans over three decades. This journey, marked by changes in publishers, the introduction of new authors, and the ever-evolving narrative, is a testament to the series’ enduring appeal and adaptability.
The Inception with Bantam Books
The journey began with Bantam Books, a renowned publishing house with a penchant for groundbreaking narratives. In January 1987, they introduced the world to the “Wild Cards” universe with the release of the eponymous first book.
The initial reception was overwhelmingly positive, leading to the rapid release of subsequent titles in the same year, such as “Aces High” and “Jokers Wild.”
Transition to Other Publishers
As the series gained traction, it caught the attention of other publishing giants. Baen Books, known for its science fiction and fantasy titles, took the reins after Bantam. Their association with the series brought a fresh perspective and expanded the readership. Following Baen Books, the series found a home with ibooks Inc., a publisher that further broadened the series’ horizons.
Tor Books, another heavyweight in the science fiction and fantasy domain, also played a pivotal role in the series’ journey. Their expertise in the genre ensured that the “Wild Cards” series received the attention and promotion it deserved, introducing it to a new generation of readers.
Return to Bantam Books
In a turn of events that can only be described as poetic, the series made its way back to Bantam Books by 2023. This homecoming was celebrated by long-time fans and the authors alike. Bantam’s renewed association with the series promises to uphold the legacy while introducing innovative approaches to engage the readers.
Who is the mastermind behind the “Wild Cards” series?
The “Wild Cards” series was conceived by George R.R. Martin, the renowned author of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. While Martin played a significant role in its creation, the series is a collaborative effort, with contributions from numerous talented authors.
Are there any spin-offs or related works to the “Wild Cards” series?
Yes, aside from the main series, there are several short stories, graphic novels, and other related works that delve deeper into the “Wild Cards” universe. These provide additional context and explore side stories that aren’t covered in the main books.
Is the “Wild Cards” series suitable for younger readers?
The series delves into mature themes, including politics, personal relationships, and societal issues. While some books might be suitable for mature teenagers, it’s advisable for parents or guardians to review the content before recommending it to younger readers.
Has the “Wild Cards” series been adapted into other media formats?
As of now, there have been discussions and plans for adaptations, including potential TV series and films. However, it’s always best to check the latest updates from official sources or the authors’ websites for the most recent information.
How does the “Wild Cards” series compare to other superhero narratives?
The “Wild Cards” series offers a unique take on the superhero genre. Instead of focusing solely on the heroics, it delves deep into the personal, social, and political ramifications of having superpowers. It’s a more mature and nuanced exploration of the genre, making it stand out from typical superhero tales.
Are all the books in the series standalone, or do they need to be read in order?
While each book in the “Wild Cards” series offers a unique story, it’s recommended to read them in order of publication to fully grasp the overarching narrative and character developments. Some books might be enjoyed as standalone, but reading them in sequence provides a richer experience.
The “Wild Cards” series offers a fresh perspective on the superhero genre, blending it seamlessly with science fiction. Its unique premise, combined with the collaborative efforts of numerous talented authors, has cemented its place as a must-read for fans of both genres. Whether you’re diving into the series for the first time or revisiting it, the “Wild Cards” universe promises a roller-coaster ride of emotions, action, and intrigue.