Review: Dreamsongs (Volumes I & II)

Dreamsongs, Volume I

Dreamsongs, Volume I

Title:  Dreamsongs (Volumes I & II)
Author:  George R. R. Martin
Published: October 30, 2007 & November 27, 2007, respectively
Author’s Website:  http://georgerrmartin.com/
Genre:  Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, anthology
Review:  A two volume collection of George R. R. Martin’s short stories with a few novella (or near) length ones, as well.  Some of these were unpublished, but many were, and a few were awards winners, some almost-winners.  In a few cases, George has chosen to include original, unpublished versions of stories that were published.  In the mix, before each grouping of stories, George has provided a bit of what was going on in his life as he wrote some of the stories or was trying to get them published, which won awards, where the ideas for the stories came from, and other interesting bits of information about his life and writing.
Some of his award winning stories included in these anthologies:
  • “A Song for Lya” – 1975 Hugo Award
  • “Sandkings” – 1980 Hugo and Nebula Award
  • “The Way of Cross and Dragon” – 1980 Hugo Award
  • “Portraits of His Children” – 1986 Nebula Award
  • “The Pear-Shaped Man” – 1988 Bram Stoker Award
  • “The Skin Trade” – 1989 World Fantasy Award
The stories I liked most (not in any particular order):
  • “Sandkings” (I saw this on Outer Limits years ago)
  • “The Skin Trade”
  • “The Hedge Knight” (possibly because I so enjoy his realm of Westeros)
  • “A Beast for Norn”
  • “The Monkey Treatment”
  • “Nightflyers”
  • “Under Siege”
  • “Unsound Variations”
  • “Doorways”
  • “A Song for Lya”
  • “The Second Kind of Loneliness”
Before ever reading any of Martin’s philosophy on writing, I had said that what makes his A Song of Ice and Fire series different from most fantasy stories is that his stories are about the characters and how they interact with each other and alone rather than the plots.  His characters grow and change.  They have depth…almost every one of them.
In Volume II, as part of the introduction to the section titled The Heart in Conflict, Martin says this:
Stories of the human heart in conflict with itself transcend time, place, and setting.  So long as love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice are present, it matters not a whit whether the tall, lean stranger has a proton pistol or a six-shooter in his hand.  Or a sword–
This is why so many of us are enthralled by A Song of Ice and Fire…and why so many of the stories in these volumes, as short as some of them are, make the connection to the reader.
Bottom Line:  This collection of stories, some award winning, spanning decades, combined with intimate details of the author’s thoughts and life experiences, is well worth reading.  If for no other reason, reading through this collection proves the quote above…that regardless of trappings, a well-written story of hearts in conflict makes for an engaging tale.
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