Eric Mesa's Reviews > Nightflyers & Other Stories

Nightflyers & Other Stories by George R.R. Martin
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2018-laser-challenge, basis-for-tv-show

This is not the first time I've read George RR Martin's science fiction. I'd read a story of his in an issue of Lightspeed magazine; I think the Lightspeed story was a newer story, though. (Also, Wild Cards if you consider that SF) Most, if not all, of the stories in this book were written in the late 70s. They definitely have a classic SF style similar to Asimov or Clarke where the characters have these long philosophical debates about whatever the moral or plot twist of the story is going to be. I enjoy it, but it may not be for everyone.

As it says on the cover, this book consists of the novella of Nightflyers and then some other short stories by GRRM.

Nightflyers: A good, classic SF novella with lots of foreshadowing, red herrings, and suspense. I got this book because next week (2 Dec, I think) the SyFy TV adaptation will be released. I didn't want to be spoiled on the plot, so I read the book. Should make for a pretty great adaptation as long as they keep the season count low. Martin does a great job at his take on Alien, but written by him. One tiny plot point is a bit regressive sexually. (view spoiler). Describe the story in one phrase: (view spoiler)

Override: a short story on a planet where people control corpses to do manual labor. Skirts a lot of potential metaphorical issues in favor of a wild West story ported to science fiction. What I mean by that is that in other hands, or perhaps even if GRRM had written the story today, there would have been more of a social commentary involved in that. Instead with the wild west we get a fun story that gives you something to think about later.

Weekend in a war zone - a satire of work team building exercises that takes place in a future where people sign up to fight in a war for the weekend. It unfolds so well that even as I kept trying to guess the ending, it wasn't until a few paragraphs before the end that I could predict it.

And seven times never kill man - while GRRM plants the clue very early on (like first couple paragraphs) the final plot twist was so brilliant. Definitely could be a twilight zone episode. The plot is, at a high level, a space version of the Catholic Missionaries who took over the Americas in the 1500s and 1600s.

Nor the many colored fires - the first one that I didn't like. Didn't quite get the point of it. It takes place on a station that studies natural wormholes, but almost nothing of the plot has anything to do with the setting.

A song for Lya - I predicted the ending, but it was still a fun read to see how GRRM would get us there. Humans are making a colony on a planet that had a metropolis before humans stopped being hunter-gatherers, but PLOT TWIST! the humans are somehow more advanced than the aliens. Lots of philosophy about happiness vs unhappiness in tech creation and what human interaction would be like with telepaths.
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Reading Progress

November 1, 2018 – Started Reading
November 1, 2018 – Shelved
November 1, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-laser-challenge
November 1, 2018 – Shelved as: basis-for-tv-show
November 1, 2018 –
2.0% "Only got through the first couple paragraphs and I already love the style"
November 1, 2018 –
5.0% "Nightflyers so far has the pacing and feel of the classic SF stories like Asimov and Clarke. I think I can predict the ending, but we'll see. It's certainly a great read so far."
November 2, 2018 –
9.0% "I like how things are going. It truly is from another era of SF, but it's highly dialog-centric vs narration so it should adapt well for the TV show."
November 2, 2018 –
24.0% "Good bit of misdirection with the verbal tic of "my friend".

I've revised what I think the twist will be. I'm thinking Psycho."
November 3, 2018 –
30.0% "Deep into the Nightflyers climax"
November 3, 2018 –
34.0% "Nightflyers: A good, classic SF novella with lots of foreshadowing, red herrings, and suspense. Should make for a pretty great adaptation as long as they keep the season count low. One tiny plot point is a bit regressive sexually, but not bad. Nightly one phrase: Alien meets Psycho"
November 6, 2018 –
45.0% "Override: a short story on a planet where people control corpses to do manual labor. Skirts a lot of potential metaphorical issues in favor of a wild West story ported to science fiction. Fun story"
November 19, 2018 –
51.0% ""Weekend in a war zone" - a satire of work team building exercises that takes place in a future where people sign up to fight in a war for the weekend. It unfolds so well that even as I kept trying to guess the ending, it wasn't until a few paragraphs before the end that I could predict it."
November 22, 2018 –
65.0% ""And seven times never kill man" - while GRRM plants the clue very early on (like first couple paragraphs) the final plot twist was so brilliant. Definitely could be a twilight zone episode."
November 23, 2018 –
73.0% ""Nor the many colored fires" - the first one that I didn't like. Didn't quite get the point of it."
November 25, 2018 –
99.0% ""A song for Lya" - I predicted the ending, but it was still a fun read to see how GRRM would get us there."
November 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

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