Ace in the Hole
is the sixth volume in the Wild Cards
shared universe series edited by George R. R. Martin. Like the third volume in the series (Jokers Wild), 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 plot of Jokers Wild centers on the 1988 Democratic Convention held in that universe's fictional Atlanta, Georgia. Following many years of inadequate recognition and inaction, the plight of the unfortunate victims of the Wild Card virus, the jokers, now forms a large part of the Democratic campaign.
With this backdrop, numerous aces, jokers and "nats" (normal humans) converge on Atlanta to support or attempt to kill various candidates, lobby for more specific causes or just create and revel in chaos.
The main plots that make up this book are:
- Golden Boy's efforts to redeem himself by winning the nomination for Hartmann;
- Puppetman ensuring his victory by controlling all those around him;
- Mack the Knife enacting Hartmann's brutal whims;
- Sara Morgenstern's desire to stop Hartmann, the man who killed her sister and controlled her mind;
- Demise seeking to fulfil an assassination contract against Hartmann; and
- Dr. Tachyon searching for a way to keep Hartmann from gaining power without revealing his terrible secret.
This book contains the following tropes:
- The Ace: Golden Boy gets to be one of these again.
- The Atoner: Golden Boy.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Fleur would be this, if not for the fact she's a Democrat. Her Democratic views, however, are what modern Americans would associate with the extremist Right Wing.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Golden Boy says Doctor Tachyon suffers from this.
- He's right. The entire disastrous affair could have been avoided if Doctor Tachyon just told him Hartman was a psychopath.
- Dropped A Bridge On Her: Chrysalis. We don't find out the circumstances of her death until Book 7.
- Go Seduce My Archnemesis: Fleur and Doctor Tachyon.
- High Heel-Face Turn: Questionable with Fleur.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Puppetman gets destroyed and everything seems well for Senator Hartman until all of his manipulations come back to hit him at once.
- Humiliation Conga: Gregg Hartman goes through this.
- Knight Templar: Leo Barnett.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire novel could be described as a series of these events, one after the other.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: There's a strong case that Leo Barnett may be a young Pat Robertson. More likely, it seems that he's a combination of a number of popular evangelical figures.
- Averted with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who plays a significant role in the book as a supporter of Joker rights.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Gregg Hartman., Leo Barnett.
- Villainous Breakdown: Senator Hartman undergoes one of these.