#ShortStoryMonth Day Fourteen — Wild Cards


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I waffled over this one quite a bit, but in the end it really is the experience of shared world short fiction that I love—with that one, frustrating caveat that is almost always the case: as far as I recall multiple anthologies go by and there are zero queer characters.

But! Onward. The Wild Cards shared universe was a series I bumped into ages ago, and it was aligned with what I loved to read about and how: superheroes, and short fiction. I devoured them (there are many, many books in the series), and it wasn’t until at least five or six books into the series that I petered out because, again, a complete lack of queerness. (It’s been years, so I’ll say it’s possible I’m mis-remembering, but if so, that’s how little impact any queer character that might have been had on me as a reader at the time).

The premise of the Wild Cards shared universe was one of a viral outbreak (alien in origin, I believe) that affected those who caught it in particular ways. Most people “drew the black queen” and died. Some people became hideously deformed (though that often came with benefits like tough skin or great strength) and were called “Jokers.” Some people got really odd like abilities that didn’t do much (like being able to change their hair colour at will) and were referred to as “Deuces.” But the “Aces”? They were the rarest of the rare, who instead developed super-powers like telekinesis or teleportation or phasing.

The stories begin in the McCarthy era (and indeed, the intersection there with McCarthyism was really cool in the first story) and move on from there, with characters appearing, aging, dying (or being killed) and growing throughout the series, and with characters from various stories showing up in the hands of other authors for their own tales. I loved them. I really did.

And every now and then I see there are newer books I’ve not read and I wonder if anyone ever got around to writing a queer Ace or not.

Another shared-world anthology I recently picked up but haven’t read yet was put together by Julie Czerneda, Tales from the Plexis, is set in her Trade Pact Universe and has stories from many authors all set at the massive space-market.

What about you? Do you have any shared world love?

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