It’s early in the process, but Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin’s other long-running book series, Wild Cards, seems poised to make the jump to television. Martin announced the move on his LiveJournal, “Universal Cable Productions (UCP) has acquired the rights to adapt our long-running Wild Cards series of anthologies and mosaic novels for television. Development will begin immediately on what we hope will be the first of several interlocking series.”
Wild Cards originated with Martin and several other New Mexico-based sci-fi authors in the late ’80s and is still going with 23 volumes published to date. The stories focus on the human victims of an alien virus who either mutate into deformed creatures (Jokers) or gain superpowers (Aces).
Beyond its central conceit, Wild Cards remains grounded in the real world. It has fewer of the secret identities and crime-fighting tropes common to the more familiar Marvel and DC Comics universes. The political and pop culture landscape of the Wild Card universe is one familiar to most Americans. Fidel Castro and Buddy Holly, Richard Nixon and Grace Kelly all exist, but their lives have been altered by the alien virus too. For example, after the virus hit, Castro stays in the U.S. to play baseball, so Cuba’s revolution doesn’t take place.
The Genre-Defying Challenge
The series includes stories from many different genres, so there’s no telling just how it will be adapted. Martin says they have some impressive names on the team with long-time Wild Card editor and screenwriter Melinda M. Snodgrass attached as an executive producer, and DC Comics Animation production executive Gregory Noveck.
Snodgrass is best known for her time on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but also served as Martin’s partner and assistant editor on the entire Wild Card series. She’s responsible for some of the series’ more memorable characters like Dr. Tachyon (alien aristocrat) and Double Helix (magician/assassin). Noveck was behind the scenes on several DC Animation titles, including All-Star Superman, Green Lantern: First Flight and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
Martin himself will not be part of the project due to his exclusive deal over at HBO. However, the author says the series is in good hands. “I have every confidence in Melinda Snodgrass and Gregory Noveck. They know and love the Wild Cards universe almost as well as I do, and I think they will do a terrific job. Wish them luck.”
Universal Cable Productions also boasts an impressive track record. The USA Network hit Mr. Robot and SyFy’s series adaptations of Twelve Monkeys and The Magicians are among the dozen or so UCP series currently on TV. Despite the quality of the Wild Cards development team, Martin urges patience and caution. “Of course, Hollywood is Hollywood, and nothing is ever certain in development… but I think, I hope, I cross my fingers that the Wild Cards will be coming to your home screens in the next year or two.”