George R.R. Martin.
Photo: Steve Snowden/Getty Images for AMC Networks
In an interesting turn of events, George R.R. Martin’s latest project isn’t fantasy. Don’t worry, though. It has an alternate post-WWII timeline, an alien virus, mutants, superpowers, and a loose playing-card theme, which is fun. Surely it’s enough to fill that dragon-sized void. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hulu is reportedly creating a writers room for two series based on Martin’s Wild Cards, a collection of sci-fi novels and shared anthologies edited by the Game of Thrones creator.
Written by multiple authors, Wild Cards is an extensive literary universe edited by Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, both of whom will reportedly executive produce at Hulu. Based on a long-standing campaign of the role-playing game Superworld engineered by the pair, Wild Cards takes place in an alternative American timeline in which an alien virus released in 1946 wreaked havoc on humanity. Some survivors, the “Jokers,” were horribly rearranged by the “Wild Card” virus, which essentially shuffles the human genome. Only a few people, the “Aces,” survive with superhero-like powers.
The effects of the virus were passed down through the generations to modern day, where they can still be triggered by traumatic events, meaning the carrier might be “killed, mutated or granted god-like powers — effects that are largely a manifestation of the victim’s emotional state, making them vulnerable to reverence or ridicule on a deeply personal level.” People can also end up Deuces, humans with relatively unimpressive superpowers, which somehow seems worse.
As of this fall, 27 Wild Cards books and counting have been published since 1987, not including the graphic novels and other works inspired by the campaign, with over 40 authors contributing. If things go as planned, both HBO and Hulu will end up with a nearly inexhaustible George R.R. IP to draw from, no mutant superpower virus necessary.