is the third volume in the Wild Cards
shared universe series edited by George R. R. Martin
. Unlike the previous two volumes in the series (Wild Cards and Aces High), this volume uses the format of a mosaic novel, where several writers write individual story lines which were then edited together into one novel length story.
The action of Jokers Wild
takes place on September 15, 1986, the fortieth anniversary of the release of Xenovirus Takis-A, the so-called "Wild Card virus". The anniversary of this event is observed as Wild Card Day and celebrated or cursed depending upon each individual victim's reaction to the virus.
This particular Wild Card Day sees the Aces of New York City stalked by the evil Astronomer, whose plans had been defeated in the previous volume. Determined to get revenge on all the Aces who beat him, and Fortunato in particular, he and his minions Demise and Roulette stalk and kill several characters throughout the course of the book.
The main character's stories are:
- Fortunato and his vendetta against The Astronomer;
- Roulette's goal of seducing and killing Dr. Tachyon;
- Sewer Jack hunting the streets for his missing niece;
- Wraith dealing with the implications of a difficult theft;
- Hiram Worcester opening Aces High as a safe haven for The Astronomer's victims;
- Bagabond choosing between her two closest friends in their respective times of need; and
- Demise continuing to see just how much he can get away with working for the Astronomer.
This book contains the following tropes:
- Anyone Can Die: Seemingly everyone is at risk.
- Death by Sex: Roulette.
- Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Peregrine. Wings? Check. Former Cheerleader? Check. Superheroine? Check. Smoldering Sexuality? Check.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Kid Dinosaur
- Evil Plan: The Astronomer tries to pull off one of the 'ultimate revenge' variety.
- Hidden Depths: The Astronomer has them as he's revealed to have originally been planning to rule the world by saving it.
- Humiliation Conga: The Astronomer has a well deserved one.
- Infant Immortality: Averted.
- Killed Off for Real: The Howler and Kid Dinosaur
- Existential treaties can be written on whether this applies to Modular Man or not.
- Ms. Fanservice: Peregrine, Wraith and Roulette.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Fortunato gets one of these. He discovers that the device the Astronomer had in his possession would have allowed him to destroy the Swarm.
- Red Shirt: Howler and Kid Dinosaur were revealed to be this.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The book that Yeoman and every thug in New York is chasing is blank.
- Not exactly. The book is originally full of important writing. However, the writing is "lost" when Wraith ghosts with it through a wall. Of course, as Yeoman realises after a bit of thinking, the villains don't know that the book is now blank...
- The Starscream: Demise, surprisingly, is the one to finally put down the Astronomer.
- Superpower Lottery: The Astronomer, Fortunato.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Fortunato gets a couple of these.
- Specifically, one of his "Geishas" points out they're hookers who sleep with him, and no matter how much he dolls it up, he's no different from any other pimp.