Saturday, 8 January 2022

RIP John Jos Miller

News has sadly broken that science fiction and fantasy author John Jos Miller has passed away at the age of 67. He was best-known for his contributions to the Wild Cards superhero shared universe.

John J. Miller and his wife Gail Gerstner-Miller were science fiction fans living in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the early 1980s. They joined a roleplaying group for a Superworlds campaign hosted by George R.R. Martin, after Victor Milan had bought him the game as a birthday present. The resulting campaign lasted over two years and involved other writers including Melinda Snodgrass (soon to become a writer on Star Trek: The Next Generation) and cyberpunk author Walter Jon Williams (author of Hardwired). Realising the game sessions were efficiently creating material for fiction, Martin floated the idea of turning the campaign into a series of shared world books, with the overall title Wild Cards. Martin was particularly inspired by the shared world fantasy series Thieves' World, co-edited by Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey.

Miller contributed characters and ideas for most of the books in the series, but he wrote actual stories for Wild Cards (1987), Aces High (1987), Jokers Wild (1987), Aces Abroad (1988), Down and Dirty (1988), Dead Man's Hand (1990), One-Eyed Jacks (1991), Jokertown Shuffle (1991), Dealer's Choice (1992), Black Trump (1995), Deuces Down (2002), Inside Straight (2008), Busted Flush (2008), Fort Freak (2011), High Stakes (2016), Mississippi Roll (2017) and Low Chicago (2018).

His biggest contribution to the series was the 2006 entry Death Draws Five, a novel entirely written by Miller, and the final book before the series was transferred to Tor Books for its 2008 relaunch.

Miller also wrote the Wild Cards supplement for the GURPS roleplaying game and contributed several Wild Cards sourcebooks for the official Wild Cards RPG from Green Ronin.

Miller's work outside the Wild Cards universe comprised the books Dinosaur Samurai (1993) and Dinosaur Empire (1995), with Stephen Leigh; the Twilight Zone book Shades of Night Falling (2003); and the Witchblade books A Terrible Beauty (2002) and Witchblade Combo (2005), the latter with John DeChancie. He also wrote short fiction, most recently for Dreamforge Magazine, and was a Fellow of the Society for American Baseball Research.

John Jos Miller was a familiar sight at SFF conventions and was well-known as a friendly fan up for a discussion about science fiction in general or his work on Wild Cards in particular. He will be missed.

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