Detailed view for the Book: Aces High (Anthology)

If the first volume was more or less a collection of loosely connected short stories, then Aces High is the first actual novel of the series. Although it has the same basic structure as volume one, here each individual chapter is connected by an interlinking narrative (Jube by George R.R. Martin) running throughout the story. In this case, we get a 'B' movie on paper as an alien entity called the Swarm makes its way towards our planet to cause untold destruction, while on earth, the new leader of an ancient sect of Masons conspires to help it on its way.

The book begins with a prologue of sorts with Pennies from Hell (by Lewis Shiner) which takes place in 1979 as Fortunato continues his quest begun a decade ago and starts to see how serious this whole Mason thing is.

The first of seven Jube interludes brings us to 1985. These chapters let us in on a few secrets of the walrus who provides Jokertown with its news, and connect the various plot points as he becomes aware of the Swarm and tries to do something about it.

With the Unto the Sixth Generation Prologue (by Walter Jon Williams) we get our first glimpse of the Swarm before getting another Jube interlude, and then we're off and running into another Croyd Crenson story, Ashes to Ashes (by Roger Zelazny) as the Sleeper is hired by Jube to do a little bodysnatching.

Unto the Sixth Generation Parts One & Two (by Walter Jon Williams) deal with the introduction (and creation) of another heavy-hitter, the sentient android Modular Man, before dropping us into the action as the first wave hits earth and aces start showing what they can (and can't) do.

A brief Jube episode and we're back one year later with If Looks Could Kill (by Walton Simons) which introduces the sociopathic ace, James Spector to the Wild Cards universe as well as the Astronomer, both of whom will feature more prominently in the third volume.

Another spell with Jube and a brief epilogue to Unto the Sixth Generation before we catch up with the Turtle and his continuing problems in Winter's Chill (by George R.R. Martin).

The fifth Jube chapter is followed by Relative Difficulties (by Melinda Snodgrass) in which Mark Meadows meets Dr Tachyon for the first time as well as some of his less than savoury relations. With a Little Help From His Friends (by Victor Milan) follows right on as Mark and Tachyon discover the second wave might actually be under way.

The penultimate Jube chapter is next before we're introduced to Jane Dow (or Water Lily) in By Lost Ways (by Pat Cadigan) along with a bunch of aces and a skirmish with the Astronomer. Mr Koyama's Comet (by Walter Jon Williams) prepares us for the final chapter, Half Past Dead (by John J. Miller) which sees the return of Brennan and Forunato and the final confrontation with the Swarm.

The seventh and final Jube acts as an epilogue wherein an old face returns and Jube has to make a painful choice.

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