After a long wait, “Game of Thrones” will finally air its seventh season on July 16th. And it’s about damn time.
If you’re anything like me, these last few months have been dull, boring and far too empty of dragons. Those spring Sundays spent gathered with friends and family, waiting with morbid excitement for beloved characters to meet gruesome ends have been replaced by the monotony of April showers and May flowers.
In just 25 days (but who’s counting?) this vast wasteland will find some purpose. Winter, at last, is coming.
If you’re a cable TV purist who keeps an HBO subscription all year long, finding decent entertainment outside of GoT season might not be a problem. But for the rest of us, VEEP just doesn’t cut it.
Thankfully, George R.R. Martin, the author of “Game of Thrones’” isn’t a one hit wonder. The fantasy architect has been writing longer than most of his fans have been alive, with some of his most acclaimed work exploring worlds outside of Westeros.
One of Martin’s longest running projects is a lesser known gem called “Wild Cards.” The twenty-two volume series, written by various authors and edited by Martin, explores an alternative earth left devastated by an alien “Wild Card Virus” shortly after World War II. Ninety percent of the world’s population is dead after drawing the “black queen,” 9% have been mutated into deformed “jokers” and one percent (“aces”) were blessed with extraordinary powers.
Perhaps one of the most interesting backdrops from the series comes from its 1988 fourth volume, “Aces Abroad,” which finds previously established characters thrust into a twisted version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Martin’s universe, the two state conflict was not born out of the 1967 occupation, but rather a Palestinian terror attack which saw the destruction of the Western Wall, as well as a failed attempt at coexistence.
If “Aces Abroad” makes one thing clear, it’s that such a coexistence (at least in this universe) is impossible. Martin does not shy away from the complexity of the conflict, and the political influence of the 1980’s is clear within his writing. With tragedy and plot twist galore, “Aces Abroad,” and the rest of the “Wild Card” series is a must read for any Martin fan withdrawing from “Game of Thrones” glory.
And better yet, “Wild Cards” is slated for its own small screen release.
Michael Heckle is the Forward opinion summer fellow and ASME associate.