George R.R. Martin's 'Skin Trade' Is Heading To Cinemax & It Might Just Be The Next 'Game of Thrones'
It's not Winds of Winter or a Game of Thrones prequel, but the news that George R.R. Martin's Skin Trade is being adapted by Cinemax is still exciting, especially for werewolf fans. If you have never heard of the novella, don't worry, you are probably not alone. Published in the 1989 horror compilation Dark Visions, Skin Trade was a huge hit among the fantasy community. Martin even nabbed the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella for his efforts. A detective story couched in werewolf lore, Skin Trade follows private detective Randi Wade and collections agent Willie Flambeaux as they try to discover who is skinning werewolves in their dying industrial town.
Skin Trade doesn't exactly sound like a Game of Thrones surrogate on the surface, but the horror series has the potential to keep Thrones fans busy while they wait for new seasons. Because the series will be on Cinemax (the network optioned the rights and ordered a pilot, according to Variety), there is no reason for Skin Trade to be a case of the week slog, and the short novella manages to build a complex mythos for the modern town. Thrones fans, Skin Trade is your next obsession, whether you realize it yet or not.
As Martin points out on his blog, it is early days for Skin Trade, but if all goes according to plan, Cinemax should be in the Martin business before long. The characters, the horror, and the family alliances are all set to thrill anyone who loves the author and Thrones. Here are seven reasons why Skin Trade has the potential to be the next Game of Thrones.
1. Martin Is Confident In The Creative Team
Just as Martin supports Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, he seems delighted to have Kalinda Vasquez (Once Upon A Time) heading up Skin Trade. "Cinemax and my agents set me up for meetings with close to a dozen different Tv writers, many of them very impressive, but Kalinda's take on the story and the characters blew me away," Martin wrote on his blog. "She loves the story and the world, and really seems to get Willie and Randi, and her pitch to Cinemax was one of the most polished and professional I've ever heard. I love her enthusiasm, and look forward to working with her."
It's a good sign that Martin is happy with the people he is handing his story over to, and hopefully Vasquez can side step some of the issues Game of Thrones has had over the years, particularly with its portrayal of women. The fact that there is a female showrunner and a female lead has me even more excited for the series.
2. Skin Trade Is To Werewolves What A Song Of Ice And Fire Was To Fantasy
Martin never settles for playing in a genre — he has to reinvent the whole thing. Just as A Song of Ice and Fire revitalized fantasy by grounding it in character driven stories, Skin Trade turned werewolf stereotypes upside down. Willie is a wheezy, small guy who is nothing like the werewolves you are accustomed to seeing, and the mythology surrounding who becomes a werewolf and why is far more complicated than being bitten.
3. There's A Cool Female Lead
Given the sheer number of amazing female characters populating Westeros, I can only imagine how much agency and power Randi will wield as a PI. I'm sure there will be other women in this world too and I can't wait to meet them. Having a confident, interesting female lead is always a bonus.
4. Randi & Willie Are Big On The Banter
The banter between Randi and Willie is going to give you serious Tyrion flashbacks. Even when their town is being plagued by gruesome murders, the dynamic duo make time to trade barbs.
5. It's All About Families
Martin's specialty is writing families with all of their loyalties, secrets, and quirks. There is a powerful family pulling the strings in Skin Trade, but there's also Randi's struggle to follow in her father's footsteps after his grisly murder. Just like in Game of Thrones, Skin Trade will find families fighting forces from within and without to keep each other safe.
6. There's Room To Grow
The first season of Game of Thrones was fairly insular, but later seasons saw the world expand. There is limited material for Skin Trade which not only gives Vasquez freedom to run with the story, but also allows her to expand upon the world. Based in an urban city where jobs are scarce, Skin Trade has the makings to be a deeper, bigger story onscreen than it was on the page.
7. It Begins With A Mystery
The mystery of who killed Randi's father and who is running the skin trade will surely drive the first season, just as all of the mysterious political maneuverings drove Game of Thrones Season 1. If Skin Trade can use its central mystery as a launching pad for bigger and better things, Cinemax could have an urban fantasy of G= Thrones proportions on their hands.
If Skin Trade makes it to the small screen, Martin fans are in for a treat. Even though it is not more Game of Thrones, Skin Trade has the potential to be just as sprawling, entertaining, and stunning as the hit HBO series.
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