George R.R. Martin (editor)
Tor, Dec 2008, $25.95
The pandemic disaster that changed the modern world occurred in 1946 leading to the establishment of the United Nation's Committee on Extraordinary Interventions. These wild cards have worked for years to solve global catastrophes and failures. Their current leader John Fortune is a former Ace operative so he knows how difficult field work is as there is never enough resourcing especially manpower to deal with all the calamities.
Recruiting and training a new group of Aces who think 1946 is ancient history, he sends the squad out into the world though his gut questions whether they are ready. He knows they are out of time so they must do their best with the hand dealt them. He sends rookies with vets as much as possible. The crews go to the powerful Caliphate Islamic Empire whose leaders are causing economic havoc everywhere; they deal with genocide in Nigeria and its African neighbors; a hurricane in New Orleans leaves them to battle the aftermath of zombies attacking the survivors; and a nuclear explosion in Texas has led to a deadlier new arms race. This and much more including nasty lethal stuff inside the government is the normal world chaos for a new generation of Aces to contend with as best they can.
The latest Aces interrelated anthology is held together by Melinda Snodgrass’ delightful "Double Helix" whose depressed hero makes all the superheroes seem real. Each entry is strong and enhances the overall mythos. Fans of the saga will relish the latest calamities and superheroes contending with them; while newcomers will enjoy this entry that can be read by it self but also seek at least the previous compilation of the new generation of Wild Cards (see INSIDE STRAIGHT).