‘Wild Cards’: What We Know About the Show From George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin is known by most in the universe of pop culture as the mastermind behind Game of Thrones. First released in 1996, Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series has since proliferated into one of the most popular shows on television. With all that being so, it’s easy to forget that Martin is an accomplished sci-fi writer outside of just the Game of Thrones mythology, having written upwards of 16 novels, 10 collections of short stories, a host of teleplays, and tons more. One such work is Wild Cards, the latest from his collected works to get the green-light for a TV adaptation.

Martin broke the initial news on his blog in August 2016, giving fans plenty of exciting information to pore over. Let’s dive in and see what’s coming, shall we?

1. The original Wild Cards story

Wild Cards Series - Bantam Books

Wild Cards | Source: Bantam Books

The first question we need to answer: What the hell is Wild Cards? Interestingly enough, it actually pre-dates Game of Thrones by almost a decade, first releasing in 1986. The series is a shared universe of short stories, anthologies, mosaic plots, and standalone novels, penned by upwards of 30 separate writers. Martin’s role has largely been as an editor and overseer, rather than the one actually writing the stories themselves. He has been working alongside former Star Trek writer Melinda M. Snodgrass.

The story is set in alternate version of post-World War II America, where a deadly virus has killed 90% of the population. Of the 10% that survived, 9% were deformed to varying extents (known as the Jokers), while 1% received superhuman powers (the Aces). In total, there are 22 separate books in the series, with at least one more set to release in August of 2016.

2. Who’s broadcasting the series?

NBC Universal Logo

NBCUniversal Logo | Source: NBC

It’s too early in the process to know much in the way of showrunners or actors, but what we do know is that the TV rights were bought by Universal Cable Productions, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. The shorter version: NBC now owns Wild Cards in its adapted television form. The obvious home for the series would be the NBC network, although the company also owns a large share of Hulu, so perhaps a streaming series is an option as well.

3. The decades long history behind Wild Cards

Wild Cards Graphic Novel

Wild Cards | Source: Del Rey

As we mentioned earlier, Wild Cards dates back all the way to the mid-’80s, having released a whole bunch of books, graphic novels, and everything in between. Back in 1986, it was even a finalist for the vaunted Hugo Award, losing out to none other than Alan Moore’s Watchmen. It arrived on the scene in a time when comic books were taking a grimmer, most realistic outlook on the world, marked by the likes of the aforementioned Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. In terms of the narrative flow of the expansive Wild Cards universe, The Guardian tracks its lengthy history.

Martin and his co-editor Melinda Snodgrass used a variety of big-name science fiction and fantasy authors to compile a shared universe that wasn’t quite a short story anthology and not quite a collaborative piece but something in between — what they called a ‘mosaic novel’, with different stories featuring different characters written by different writers, but interlocking into a wider narrative.

Throughout the run of stories, Martin and Snodgrass employed a wide range of talented sci-fi authors, including Cherie Priest (Boneshaker) and Chris Claremont (the X-Men comic series). What this afforded Wild Cards was a variety of writing styles that still managed to interlock into a broader, connected shared universe of stories.

4. George R.R. Martin won’t be working on the series himself

george r.r. martin

George R.R. Martin | Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

For HBO’s Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has been involved in the writing and crafting of the series from the start. He’s penned the screenplays for various episodes, acted as a consultant for showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and generally been a key cog in adapting his novels to TV. That won’t be the case for Wild Cards though as Martin will be stepping aside. As he laid out in his blog post announcing the series, his “own development deal is exclusive to HBO,” making it so he’s contractually restricted from doubling up on another network. Not for nothing, he’s also still in the process of getting the next Game of Thrones novel out, giving him a full plate of work in the meantime.

5. Melinda Snodgrass is still on board

Wildcards writing team, with George R.R. Martin

The original Wild Cards writing team| Source: WildCardsOnline.com

While Martin won’t be involved in any of the day-to-day for the Wild Cards adaptation, co-editor Melinda Snodgrass is still signed on as an executive producer. Outside of her work on the novels, she’s most known as the story editor on Season 2 and 3 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Suffice to say, her sci-fi credentials are unassailably awesome. Snodgrass will also be joined by fellow executive producer Gregory Noveck, the former head of the SyFy Films division, who before that was the senior vice president of creative affairs at DC Comics.

Stay tuned for more info on NBC’s Wild Cards series as it arrives!

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