George R. R. Martin

8 April 2021

George R. R. Martin was one of my favorite SF writers long before he suddenly became really (presumably rich and) famous with the 'Game of Thrones' books. I read the first one or two and lost interest - most fantasy these days doesn't interest me much. Sure is a lot of it though, so apparently some people do

Anyway, suddenly Martin became really famous, but before that he wrote some (for those of us in the SF world) really interesting stories.

One of my earliest exposures was the novella 'A Song for Lya'. It is usually found in a collection of stories that bears that title. It is a haunting tale dealing with humans presented with an unusual concept of the afterlife among the alien, but generally humanlike, aliens on a distant planet. As the author has described himself as an atheist or agnostic who wants to believe in something after this life but just can't seem to, the close of the story is especially affecting.

About that time I also read 'Dying of the Light', an interesting story about a rogue planet that temporarily came close enough to a star to allow humans to colonize it, and is now moving away into the darkness and death of deep space.

'Windhaven' was another early story. Written with co-author Lisa Tuttle, it will probably be attractive to younger readers. About a world almost completely covered by oceans, and the survivors of a crashed spaceship scattered among the islands. Using the materials salvaged from the ship, light and strong enough to make 'wings' (sort of like a hang glider) an elite group of people are trained to travel among the islands. they all seem to be young adults, hence the likely affinity likely to be felt by younger readers, but still enjoyable for adults.
'Sandkings' is about a wealthy man who collects exotic pets from other worlds. His character flaws, however, lead him to improperly maintain his latest acquisition, resulting in an extremely unhappy ending.
A bit of a departure from SF, probably more into the realm of horror, is 'Fevre Dream'. A story about a race of vampires, but not exactly the Dracula type. Set on the Mississippi River just prior to (and during and after) the Civil War, and involving the steamboat traffic of the day. Genuinely scary at times. Martin is said to have described it as "Bram Stoker meets Dracula".

So there you are. These and others of his earlier works are worth a look.