George R.R. Martin’s other long-running series is coming to TV

You may be familiar with George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series which led to HBO's Game of Thrones but for even longer he”s been involved with a science fiction and superhero fantasy anthology called Wild Cards. And he's just announced it's coming to a television near you.

Back in 2011 Wild Cards was optioned for a movie by Syfy Films and Universal Pictures. That didn't quite pan out but Martin himself announced the latest news on his LiveJournal which still has Universal involved:

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. Melinda M. Snodgrass, my assistant editor and right-hand man on Wild Cards since its inception, the creator of Dr. Tachyon, Double Helix, and Franny Black, and a seasoned television writer/ producer whose credits include STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (“Measure of a Man”), REASONABLE DOUBTS, THE PROFILER, and STAR COMMAND, is attached as an executive producer on the project, together with Gregory Noveck of RED, Slow Learner, and SyFy Films.

Originally published back in 1987, the series includes not just novels but graphic novels and games as well. Stories are vast and varied and have been told by Martin, Snodgrass, Roger Zelazny, Caroline Spector, Paul Cornell, and many others. Here's how he describes it:

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. The world was never the same.

The first volume of the Wild Cards series was published in 1986, and was a finalist for that year's Hugo Award, ultimately losing to Alan Moore's WATCHMEN. Twenty-two volumes have been published to date, with a twenty-third (HIGH STAKES) scheduled for hardcover release later this month, and three more in the works. Translations and reprints of many of the Wild Cards books and stories have been published around the globe, in France, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Comic books, graphic novels, and role-playing games have also chronicled the adventures of the aces and jokers of the WC universe.

“Most of all it is a universe, as large and diverse and exciting as the comic book universes of Marvel and DC (though somewhat grittier, and considerably more realistic and more consistent),” Martin said, “with an enormous cast of characters both major and minor. There are thousands of stories to be told in the world of the Wild Cards, and Gregory and Melinda and UPC hope to be able to tell many of them.”

While Martin notes development is beginning on just one series, he's hopeful more could spin-off from it. “Of course, Hollywood is Hollywood, and nothing is ever certain in development,” he said, “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.”

For those who are familiar with the anthology series and are looking to know which actual stories or characters will be adapted, Martin said it's hard to say at this stage. “Only one thing I can say for (almost) sure. You will be seeing Croyd Crenson, no matter shape the eventual show or shows ends up taking. It wouldn't be Wild Cards without the Sleeper.”

And if you're an ASoIaF fan who's worried about the writer's schedule, don't fret. Martin assures us he won't actually be hands-on for Wild Cards.

“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,” he wrote, “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.”