Aces High 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.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Subverted, it's less than a hundred years old and very obviously built around its founder's idiosyncrasies.
- Alien Invasion: The Swarm.
- The Atoner: Golden Boy. he starts his redemption fighting off the Swarm.
- Broken Ace: Captain Trips.
- Diabolus ex Machina: The Great and Powerful Turtle gets this. He manages to find love, happiness, and a new life where he doesn't have to be a superhero - only to discover that if he has children they will have a 99% chance of either dying horribly or becoming Jokers.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Modular Man's inventor.
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Modular Man has the robotic version of this.
- Jerkass: Modular Man's creator takes this up to 11.
- Morality Pet: Mai for Yeoman.
- The Quisling: The Astronomer and the Fraternity appear to be this.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: Modular Man.
- Robosexual: Cindy.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Swarm. The Network.
- The Swarm: Literally.