george r r martin

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

Co-edited by George R.R. Martin, the ‘Wild Cards’ books could turn into a massive sci-fi franchise.

With Game of Thrones nearing its final season, George R.R. Martin fans needed some good news. This weekend, that announcement came in the form of a LiveJournal post: the long-running Wild Cards series has been optioned for TV.

Wild Cards is a cult favorite, but it’s very different from Game of Thrones. Edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass and George R.R. Martin, it’s a 22-volume “shared universe” written by multiple authors, incorporating elements of superhero fiction and alternate history.

According to Martin, the TV rights were bought by Universal Cable Productions, the company behind series like The Magicians, Killjoys, and Mr. Robot. In Martin’s words:

“The shared world of the Wild Cards diverged from our own on September 15, 1946 when an alien virus was released in the skies over Manhattan, and spread across an unsuspecting Earth. Of those infected, 90% died horribly, drawing the black queen, 9% were twisted and deformed into jokers, while a lucky 1% became blessed with extraordinary and unpredictable powers and became aces.”

Martin compares the Wild Cards universe to Marvel and DC, and while it’s considerably less well-known, it has plenty of geek credibility. Not only is it a sci-fi narrative about superpowered people, co-edited by the creator of Game of Thrones, but it was heavily influenced by roleplaying games. Bizarrely, it even has a distant link to the iconic Sandman comics. Back in the 1980s, a young Neil Gaiman pitched the idea of a Dream character as part of the Wild Cards universe. Martin turned him down, and Gaiman wound up writing Sandman for Vertigo Comics instead.

Considering the popularity of Game of Thrones, we imagine there will be a lot of interest in a George R.R. Martin-adjacent sci-fi series. But as Martin reminds us on his blog, “Hollywood is Hollywood.” Wild Cards has only just been optioned for TV, so fans shouldn’t take anything for granted until a pilot episode has actually been filmed. 

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