Wild Card Volume XXVII - Knaves Over Queens

Knaves Over Queens Cover

Published By
Harper Collins
First Published
2018 (hardcover)
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Knaves Over Queens is the twenty-seventh novel in the Wild Cards series edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass. It is the first Wild Cards novel to be set entirely in the United Kingdom.

It was first released in the United Kingdom in June 2018 before being released in the United States in August 2019.


Knaves Over Queens covers the arrival of the wild card virus to the UK and the events that followed. The virus reached the UK via the ocean liner Queen Mary, which became a plague ship after it was exposed to spores from the original release of Xenovirus Takis-A in 1946 while on its way to New York. Much like the original Wild Cards, Knaves Over Queens covers a long time period, from the initial outbreak of the wild card virus to the present day, and the stories describe some of the ways that the virus has altered both individual lives and the course of British history. Notable deviations from our reality include the death of Princess Elizabeth due to her drawing the Black Queen, the subsequent coronation of her sister, Queen Margaret, the founding of the Order of the Silver Helix, as well as significantly extended lives and political power for both Winston Churchill and Alan Turing. However, there is also increased unrest due to joker extremists like the Twisted Fists, led in the UK by the Green Man, as well as a prolonging of the Troubles in Northern Ireland to the present day through the actions of an ace known as Babd, the Goddess of Battle.


Knaves Over Queens contains the following short stories:

Story Author Description
"A Flint Lies in the Mud" Kevin Andrew Murphy The first story describes how the Queen Mary became a plague ship after exposure to the wild card virus after its release in New York in 1946, from the perspective of Brigadier Keneth Foxworthy, a survivor of the wild card virus who becomes known as Captain Flint due to his appearance as a joker-ace. He takes charge of the surviving crew of the ship, who now consist mostly of jokers and aces. He disobeys orders to keep the Queen Mary from landing, as he fears this is an excuse by the British government to sink the ship, and so allows the virus to reach the UK. He is falsely believed dead after he descends into a coma-like state shortly after returning to the UK.
"The Coming of the Crow" Peadar O Guilin In 1951, a young Irish girl, exposed to the wild card virus by a weapons shipment from New York sent to her father and forced to hide her bleeding skin in bandages, discovers that she can gain power, including regeneration and power over crows, from the death of "heroes" after her uncle is killed fighting against British troops. She believes herself to be the incarnation of Babd , an Irish goddess of battle and crows.
"But A Flint Holds FIre" Kevin Andrew Murphy Captain Flint awakens in 1952 and is recruited by Queen Margaret to catch Spring Heeled Jack, an ace thief who is actually searching for the pieces of her brother's corpse, which the wild card transmuted to silver. This leads to the founding of the Order of the Silver Helix, a group of aces and Jjkers lead by Captain Flint.
"Needles and Pins" Caroline Spector Constance, an ace with the power to create impenetrable garments, finds herself caught up in the violent world of the 1960s East End of London after drawing the attention of the Kray twins, and is instrumental in their downfall
"Night Orders" Paul Cornell In 1973, Secret Service analyst Charlie Soper realises that Prime Minister Winston Churchill is becoming increasingly unstable, despite his apparent immortality thanks to the wild card virus, and forces the prime minister to resign after discovering that a drunken Churchill had ordered his own assassination, to end his premiership with "a certain degree of spectacle."
"Police on my Back" Charles Stross In 1981, Allen Crippen, a pale joker-ace with the power to tunnel, finds himself working for a gang in London hiding bodies and contraband. He develops a relationship with Jenny, another joker working undercover for the London Metropolitan Police, placing both of them in grave danger.
"Probationary" Marko Kloos In 1982, the Silver Helix sends two of its aces to the Falklands - Sub-Lieutenant Rory Campbell, who can remotely disable electronics by generating EMPs, and Major Ramjit Singh, the Lion, who has enhanced strength.
"Twisted Logic" Peter Newman In 1984, Roger Barnes, a reserved and conservative speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, is infected by the wild card virus, leaving him with bark-like flesh. At the request of Churchill, Barnes goes undercover in the Twisted Fists, a terrorist organisation that avenges attacks on jokers. Eventually, the cause of joker rights becomes more important than Barnes's family, and after Churchill's death and a fight against both the Lion and his own daughter, Barnes embraces his role as the Green Man, leader of the Twisted Fists after the death of the Black Dog in 1994.
"The Cracks in the City" Peadar O Guilin In 1987 Babd, while causing unrest in Belfast, meets and begins to manipulate a joker called Billy O'Donnel.
"The Ceremony of Innocence" Melinda M. Snodgrass After revealing his ace abilities of shapeshifting and teleporting in 1996, Noel Williams is recruited and trained by Captain Flint and Alan Turing to become Double Helix. After his first mission Noel is disturbed to discover that he rather enjoys killing.
"How to Turn a Girl to Stone" Emma Newman In 2003, a the ability of a young ace called Kerry to turn animals and people into stone is exploited by her parents as a way to make incredibly detailed stone statues to sell in order to save their family farm. Eventually, Kerry turns her parents to stone, as they feared she would all along.
"The Visitor" Mark Lawrence In 2017, a completely paralysed young woman called Angela develops the ability to "visit" the bodies of people she has been in contact with after contracting the wild card virus.
"Feeding on Entrails" Peadar O Guilin In 2017, Babd has ensured that the Troubles still continue in Belfast, and Billy is still her unwitting accomplice. However, once he realises the role he has played in Babd's crimes, he turns on her and leaves her to die, trapped inside a coffin. Babd uses her control of crows to kill him, but he remains defiant until the end. Since Billy died as a "hero", his death renews Babd and empowers her to escape from the coffin and continue the conflict in Ireland.


"So, with the Wild Card, are there Knaves?" - Captain Flint

"I don't know - it might be a good term for those of us who got dealt a mixed hand." - Handsome Harry

"It's in my power to create orders of chivalry as I see fit, and moreover I could use my knights for purposes other than pointless ceremony. So I could create an order for wild cards, but since wild card sounds too American, I'll make it British. Spring-heeled Jack keeps stealing silver? Fine, silver is a good heraldic metal. Make it the Order of the Silver..." - Queen Margaret

"Helix. The Order of the Silver Helix." - Alan Turing

Wild Cards Series Novels
Previous Novel
Wild Cards Volume XXVI:

Texas Hold'em

Wild Cards Volume XXVII:

Knaves Over Queens (novel)

Following Novel
Wild Cards Volume XXVIII:

Three Kings

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