Review: Aces Abroad

Series: Wild Cards: #4

After Jokers Wild , I’m glad to see Aces Abroad move on from Fortunato/the Masons (although Fortunato isn’t gone for good just yet). After listening to the afterward by George RR Martin, that seems to have been intentional: the first three books were ordered together and made a self contained arc. A similar pattern will continue through the rest of the books.

It’s also interesting this time that where we were mostly limited to New York and Jokertown before, now we’re getting a look at the rest of the world–in the guise of a world tour taken on by a number of famous Aces, Jokers, and Nats (listening to the audiobooks, I was wondering why in the world they’d be called gnats… swattable? nats makes much more sense). The Wild Card virus may be rare the further you get from New York, but it seems to have impacted every corner of the world in various ways.

We’re also back to the collection of short stories style, which I do appreciate.

Overall, a solid collection of stories. I’m mostly enjoying the Puppetman arc much more than the Masons. We’ll see how that holds up through the next two books though.

One random thought in the stories that I didn’t really think of: the Wild Card virus predates AIDS (or at least clinical reports and public knowledge thereof) by decades. There’s some interesting commentary where from my point of view Jokers can represent AIDS victims, when in their world, it would be the other way around.

Individual stories:

The Tint of Hatred : The Puppetman is an interesting villain, especially having points of view. Creepy as all get out.

From The Journal Of Xavier Desmond : Interludes between all the other stories. Not as interesting as most of the stories, although he does catch a few things that only the reader knows the significance of.

Beasts Of Burden : Seeing Hatai in the world of the Wild Cards is interesting, with it being left vague what is real (courtesy of the Wild Card) and what is still myth. Seeing Blasie without knowing who exactly he is just yet was interesting in hindsight.

Blood Rights : Guatemalan/Mayan myths writ large in another story about revolution. Interesting, although I’m not sure if we’ll see more about this.

Warts and All : Powers originally from Frog and Toad? Gone a bit sideways (and upwards (and upwards))? Sure! I like Troll. Another I hope to see more of.

Down By The Nile : Peregrine’s surprise pregnancy , especially given that Fortunato is the father was a lot better than I expected. It feels ‘real’, which is always a plus in a world like this. The Living Gods are an interesting idea as well–really, the entire idea that beliefs and situation around you when you turn your Wild Card influences your powers.

The Teardrop Of India : The fact that for several books, no one realized that the Wild Card doesn’t impact animals… is actually really cool, since I doubt many readers (or even the authors) did either.

Down In The Dreamtime : Fun look at Austrailian tribal beliefs and just how strange of things the Wild Card can turn into reality.

Zero Hour : Oh hey. Fortunato. He’s much better post-Astronomer. Still not my favorite.

Always Spring in Prague : I particularly like stories featuring Prague and Golems and Lady Black is an interesting manifestation of the ‘can’t touch or you’ll kill them’ power that’s a fairly common trope. I hope to see more of her.

Puppets : Man the Puppetman is creepy. And now he has a new weapon…

Mirrors Of The Soul : Dr. Tachyon is interesting and I’m never sure how much I like or dislike him. I think that’s intentional. Giving him a taste of family–the one thing he thought he’d never have? Yes please.

Legends : Underwhelming, particularly after the more exotic feeling (to me) stories of the first half of the book. That’s about it.