Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The latest anthology in Martin's Wild Cards shared universe—inhabited by a multitude of humans irrevocably changed by an alien virus—features eight never-before-published stories revolving around superheroes and villains impacted by love. Longtime fans will recognize that most of the authors—including Melinda M. Snodgrass, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Christopher Rowe, Marko Kloos, and Walton Simons—have been featured extensively in previous Wild Cards anthologies. While none of the stories presented here could be considered exceptional, most are satisfying, featuring deeply developed characters and well-constructed storylines. Kloos’ “In the Forests of the Night” is set in an exclusive ecotourist lodge deep in the jungles of Colombia and revolves around Khan, a half-tiger, half-human who is a joker-ace: both mutated and gifted with superhuman abilities. A bodyguard for a powerful crime lord, Khan’s job is to protect his boss during a potentially dangerous business meeting. But when he has a fortuitous sexual encounter with a beautiful stranger named Maryam, she turns out to be much more than she appears. Featuring two memorable and downright cool fight scenes, this story has a fitting conclusion that makes it noteworthy. Murphy’s “Trudy of the Apes” is set in 1957 and follows Trudy Pirandello, a thief whose superhuman ability is to teleport small objects into her hands. After befriending (i.e.: seducing) Jack Braun, a wild card who is the strongest man in the world and plays Tarzan on TV, she follows him to the set in rural Mexico, where she attempts to locate a mythical treasure. The theme of love—and its unforeseen consequences—is on full display in selections like Simons’ “The Long Goodbye,” a heart-rending story about two time-traveling lovers who part ways, and “What’s Your Sign?” by Gwenda Bond and Peter Newman, in which a date for charity between a real-life hero and a famous television fortuneteller becomes more than just a publicity stunt. The lack of new voices notwithstanding, a solid addition to the Wild Cards universe. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.