Saturday, 6 August 2016

George R.R. Martin's WILD CARDS optioned for television

Wild Cards, the second-most-well-known book series developed by George R.R. Martin, has been optioned for television with Universal. Up until a few months ago SyFy held the film rights to the book series but they have since lapsed. It looks like SyFy are still involved with the project, but are now coming at it from a different angle.

It is unknown if these superpowered cats will be in the TV show.

Universal Cable Productions has had a hand in a lot of recent successful SFTV shows, including Mr. Robot, 12 Monkeys, Killjoys, The Magicians and Colony, and has partnered with networks and providers including SyFy, USA and Amazon.

Wild Cards is the story of an alternate history of the world, starting in 1946 when an alien virus is released over New York City and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States (although the airborne virus eventually spreads across the globe). Most people are fortunately unaffected, but of the people it does infect, 90% die, 9% turn into mutated freaks and 1% turn into super-powered individuals: heroes...or villains.

The original Wild Cards book was published in 1987. There are now twenty-two books in the series, with a twenty-third to be published later this year. As an anthology series, each Wild Cards book consists of stories written by different authors. Some of the stories are stand-alone, whilst some books are "mosaic" novels, with several stories combining to form one longer narrative, and in some cases several mosaic novels in a row form a trilogy featuring a much larger story. Two of the books in the series are also full-length novels from single authors. George R.R. Martin wrote stories for many of the earlier books in the series but has not done for some time now as he focuses work on A Song of Ice and Fire. Instead, he edits most of the books alongside Melinda Snodgrass.

Snodgrass, a respected SF and fantasy author with more than thirty years in the field and numerous television credits, including a run as a writer and producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, will be spearheading the new TV project as a producer, alongside SyFy's Gregory Noveck. Martin will not be directly involved in the new TV project (it is rumoured he is working on a top-secret novel, reportedly involving chilly flatulence) due to his exclusive HBO development deal. I'm actually surprised this didn't go to HBO, but their bizarrely risk-averse decisions over the last couple of years may explain that.

Universal re-optioning the franchise as a TV show is a good idea. The series is too big to have worked as a series of films and on TV they will have the flexibility to adapt the whole series, or just certain stories, or even just create a whole new set of stories involving new and established characters. It's also interesting that Universal, SyFy's parent company, has optioned the series themselves. It means that it could end up at SyFy (which, in the wake of The Expanse, isn't as worrying as it would have been a couple of years ago) but it also means it could end up on a cable network or Amazon, who would likely be interested in a hard-edged, unorthodox "superhero" series.


Ghost said...

No surprise here since George R.R. Martin has been in talks to get his other properties into television. Wild Cards always look the most likely to get optioned though I do wonder which time period the TV series will be set in.

John said...

Frankly - this just means the likelihood that the tale of Westeros will never be finished has just risen significantly, as now GRRM will get distracted even more. This is a disaster for those of us who have been hoping for a book to tell us what happens to John Snow will arrive this century!

Dymon Enlow said...

Good news John! George addressed this concern on his blog...

"I won't be working on the series myself... my own development deal is exclusive to HBO, and I am writing THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I believe most of you will recall... but 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."

Siderite said...

Why do people talk more about ASOIF than Wild Cards on this post? I loved the Wild Cards stories and the part that was actually written by GRRM is tiny. With dozens of books and so many authors this could be milked for decades, maybe even evolve in a cinematic universe. The ideas are fresh, without being stuck to the comic book credo of perfect heroes that never die, while being wild enough to satisfy the needs of the most avid science fiction consumers. If they put the same effort in the show(s) as they did with The Expanse, I will probably die happy (and still watching new episodes when I am old and brittle)