BooksOfTheMoon

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance

By George R.R. Martin

Rating: 4 stars

I rather enjoyed this collection of short stories written in honour of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series but I had the unfortunate problem of never actually having read any of the original stories. Still, if these homages do justice to Vance then I certainly look out for his Dying Earth stories. I loved the baroque language and constant hovering between the border of science fiction and fantasy – the epitome of Clarke’s third law. This is very wide world with lots to explore, although it’s sad to think that even by the end of the world Mankind will be no wiser than he is today.

Book details

ISBN: 9780007277483
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year of publication: 2009

Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective: Book Two (Dreamsongs, #2)

By George R.R. Martin

Rating: 4 stars

I came to this collection having never actually read any George R. R. Martin before. I’ve heard of A Song of Ice and Fire but have never read it, but I had read good reviews of this retrospective (or Rretrospective as the book itself puts it) and wasn’t disappointed. This volume contained fewer but longer stories than its predecessor but held the same format of grouping stories by theme, each with an introduction by the author. The first and third sections are single universes where Martin wrote several stories, the first being the Haviland Tuf series and the other being the WildCards superhero series. I enjoyed both of these and would certainly like to read more. Luckily for me, this is possible since the Tuf stories are collected in Tuf Voyaging and there are many books in the WildCards shared universe, which, we learn in this book, Martin created with a group of friends while roleplaying.

The book also contains a couple of screenplays that Martin has written during his Hollywood years, the first being a Twilight Zone episode that got mangled and the second being a pilot for a Sliders-esque series that never really went anywhere.

The final section is possibly the most interesting, Martin admitting that there’s no real ‘theme’ to them, and they’re just stories that he likes. They include the Song of Ice and Fire prequel The Hedge Knight and the eerie Portraits of his Children which rounds off the collection in a suitably weird and somewhat creepy way. This section contains stories that don’t follow any particular pattern, from the fantasy/imagined history of The Hedge Knight to the hard SF of The Glass Flower to the werewolf/detective story The Skin Trade.

A good collection to get a flavour of the later part of Martin’s career and should certainly be read in conjunction with Volume 1. If you only know of Martin through Ice and Fire, this will show that he’s done so much more than that.

Book details

ISBN: 9780752890098
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Year of publication: 2003

Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective: Book One (Dreamsongs, #1)

By George R.R. Martin

Rating: 4 stars

This is the first volume of a retrospective of Martin’s short fiction, split into four sections, each introduced by the author. It starts off with some of Martin’s very early work written for the fanzines in the 40s and 50s, moving on to his professional work in the 60s and 70s before touching on some of his fantasy work and ending with a selection of his horror work.

Newer readers may be mostly familiar with Martin’s fantasy work, most notably A Song of Ice and Fire but he has worked in all speculative fiction genres and started off in SF, for the simple reason that that was what paid. There are so many good stories in this collection that it’s hard to pick out highlights, but some that stand out are With Morning Comes Mistfall, about a journalist covering the search for the mysterious “wraiths” on the mist-wreathed world of Wraithworld; Sandkings, a disturbing story about an unpleasant man who purchases very distinctive pets; and Nightflyers, a ghost story with an SF flavour. A great collection, and volume 2 is waiting for me back home which I’ll look forward to diving into.

Book details

ISBN: 9780752890081
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Year of publication: 2003

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