is the second volume in the Wild Cards
shared universe fiction series edited by George R. R. Martin
. It was published in 1987 and dealt with two main plots that linked the stories in the volume: the arrival of the alien Swarm and a Masonic conspiracy led by a bookish villain named the Astronomer. In the end, these two storylines connect.
The title Aces High
comes from the name of a popular and ritzy restaurant of the same name that caters to a clientele consisting solely of Aces — those victims of the Wild Card virus who gain "superpowers" as a result of their exposure — and features in several of the stories, along with its proprietor Hiram Worchester (aka Fatman).
The stories that make up this book are:
- Pennies From Hell: Fortunato continue his investigation into the Masonic conspiracy he discovered in the previous book.
- Jube: A seemingly average Joker hides a huge secret and discovers an alien threat
- Unto the Sixth Generation: A newly constructed robot with a sophisticated AI discovers love and hate.
- Ashes to Ashes: The Sleeper awakes and takes a seemingly simple job that rapidly complicates.
- If Looks Could Kill: A man who drew the Black Queen but was returned to life learns to appreciate his new-found ability.
- Winter's Chill: The Turtle deals with problems both personal and intergalactic.
- Relative Difficulties: Dr. Tachyon reunites with some long lost family.
- With a Little Help From his Friends: Mark Meadows investigates a murder in order to clear an innocent's name.
- By Lost Ways: Water Lily gets swept up in the Masonic conspiracy.
- Mr. Koyama's Comet: The story of the Swarm Mother's designs upon Earth.
- Half Past Dead: Yeoman joins a small force to destroy the Swarm Mother from within.