cover image Suicide Kings

Suicide Kings

S. L. Farrell, Victor Milan, Daniel Abraham, , assisted by Melinda M. Snodgrass. . Tor, $25.99 (445pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1783-4

The 20th Wild Cards shared-universe novel (after 2008's Busted Flush ), written by six authors, continues developing an alternate present while killing off characters right and left. An alien virus released in 1946 killed 90% of humanity and turned 1% of the rest into superpowered “aces.” Now many aces, like Noel “Double Helix” Matthews, want out of the superhero gig, but they reunite to challenge evil idealist Tom “The Radical” Weathers, possibly the world's most powerful ace. Noel and his comrades also discover children forced into experiments that will make ace soldiers of a few, while being horrendously lethal for the rest. Martin and his stable of authors have created a relentless story that will appeal to readers who like action gritty to the point of ruthlessness, cynical politics and only fragile bubbles of hope. (Dec.)