Thirty Minutes over Broadway The Beginning
Tuesday Sept. 17 1946 2:45
Location Manhattan NY NY
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wild Cards is a science fiction and superhero anthology series set in a shared universe. The series was created by a group of New Mexico science fiction authors, and mostly edited by George R. R. Martin. There were 12 volumes published between 1987 and 1993 before it switched publishers, which released three new volumes between 1993 and 1995; a fourth appeared belatedly in 2002, and a fifth in early 2006.
While most of the books are made up of individual short stories, they generally focus around a central theme or event. There were also several longer storylines which run through several of the books. Some volumes use the format of a mosaic novel. This involved several writers writing individual story lines which were then edited together into one novel length story. Finally, some volumes are a complete novel written by a single author.
Wild Cards was inspired by superhero comics, and many of the authors play with the conventions of the medium, while some characters are based on existing heroes (for example, Jetboy was modeled on the Hillman Periodicals' character Airboy). Many of the original authors were also inspired by a long-running Albuquerque, New Mexico campaign of the role-playing game Superworld, gamemastered by George R. R. Martin, and many modeled their characters on their in-game persona. 
Major contributors to the series include Roger Zelazny, Lewis Shiner, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Walter Jon Williams, Leanne C. Harper, Chris Claremont, Victor MilŠn, John J. Miller, and Martin himself.
The series relates an alternate history of the earth after World War II. In 1946 an alien virus that rewrites human DNA is accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It kills 90 % of those who come into contact with it (referred to as 'drawing the Black Queen'). However, 9 % mutate into deformed creatures (known as 'Jokers') and 1 % gain superpowers (known as 'Aces'). There is also a class known as 'deuces' - Aces who have acquired useless or ridiculous powers, such as the ability to levitate up to two feet, or to grow bodily hair at will. The airborne virus eventually spreads all over the world, affecting tens of thousands.
The Wild Cards universe is distinguished from most superherocomic book fiction by several thematic elements. Early on the authors decided to pursue a more realistic, or naturalistic approach to storytelling. Few of the Ace characters in Wild Cards have secret identities, or are traditional crime-fighting superheroes in the mold of Spider-Man or Batman. Wild Cards remained set within a recognizably real world with recognizably real people and pop culture and, because of the historical setting of many of the stories, had characters who aged realistically during the course of the series. The majority of Wild Card victims live in the run-down ghetto of Jokertown, while the fortunate Aces become glamorous celebrities. In addition, Wild Cards took a more graphic approach to violence, and particularly to sex, than most superhero stories do.