Lori's Reviews > Dreamsongs Volume I

Dreamsongs Volume I by George R.R. Martin
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's review
Jan 28, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010january
Read in January, 2010

I'm awfully glad Game of Thrones was the first George R.R. Martin I tried. Had I stumbled across some of his early sci-fi, showcased here in Dreamsongs, I'd have never pursued more. But if I hadn't fallen in love with A Song of Ice and Fire, I would've never turned enough Dreamsong pages to get to some of the best short fiction I've ever read.

Martin's commentary is honest -- he knows the early stuff isn't good. And honestly, a lot of my problems with it are genre specific. I don't wholeheartedly embrace sci-fi, but in novel length, I can get past the jargon if I love the characters. In short stories, there's little chance to do that.

But who cares about the so-so stuff, right? It's the amazing I want you to know about. The book has sci-fi, fantasy and horror, but the best stories combine all of the above.

Even if you've never tried Martin, it's worth picking up this volume to read select stories. (And once you're attached, ask may about ASOIAF.)

-- Sandkings is incredible, hands down one I'll reread again and again. (Apparently it's what he was famous for before the whole Song thing.) It's creepy and weird and horrifying and fascinating.

-- The Way of the Cross and The Dragon is religion and sci-fi, twisted. If you don't like having your beliefs challenged, this one isn't for you. A Song for Lya also has a strong dose of religion, but it's not one you'll recognize. (Plus there are parasites.)

-- The Second Kind of Loneliness is poetic and beautiful. And then it'll stun you.

-- The Hero has a classic short-story format with GRRM's grim view of authority.

-- I read the first four graphs of the The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr aloud to Adam. If you want to know why Martin is a celebrated wordsmith, start there.

-- Ice Dragon makes me long for Dance of Dragons. But even if you don't know what that means, it's a Gaiman-esque children's tale.

-- Meathouse Man has a turn-away kind of opening sequence. The story never gets far enough away from the grotesque for it be enjoyable, but it's certainly memorable.

-- Nightflyers is like Norman Bates' mom and Firefly's Captain Mal had a love child. (Yup, as weird as that is.)

-- The final two horror stories (The Monkey Treatment and The Pear-Shaped Man) are decent on their own but don't stand with the best of the best in here.

And the rest? Eh. Like I said, more sci-fi than I'd like and the words just don't live up to the Martin magic. But it was worth reading all of those to find the gems and to get a sense of the man himself through his introductory chapters. I can't say enough.

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