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Dreamsongs Volume I    by George R. R. Martin order for
Dreamsongs Volume I
by George R. R. Martin
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

The two great mysteries of this world are when scientists will come up with a unification theory for quantum mechanics and relativity, and when George R. R. Martin will release the very long-awaited fifth book in his Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons. To hold fans till then, there is Dreamsongs, a two-volume collection featuring short stories and novellas spanning George R. R. Martin's career.

This first volume is split into five parts, separating periods of Martin's life, from the sixties through the seventies. At the beginning of each part, Martin gives an introduction to what was happening in his life at the time, the circumstances leading up to each story and how they were published. He begins from the beginning, writing and publishing at a young age, when one would expect the work to be simple and undeveloped, and yet it is clear that George R. R. Martin was a talented writer even then. Each story has unique and memorable characters who stick with the reader long after the tale is over. In The Exit to San Breta, the main character is driving his classic, ancient Jaguar along the old, disused freeways of North America. On a particular road in Arizona, he runs into an even more ancient Edsel in incredible condition, riding a perfectly flat and unblemished road. Soon he becomes part of a horrific haunting accident set to continuously play itself out for all eternity.

In Martin's science fiction, he establishes himself in a unique way, using the same world each time, but different planets, a distinct plot, and unforgettable characters who add much more meaning to the story. In the last two parts, Martin reveals his love for fantasy, his development as a fantasy writer, and finally as a horror writer. His most well-known story, Sandkings - that won him the most prestigious science fiction awards - involves a combination of these genres. Kress is a collector of the unusual, whatever the cost, until the day he buys a terrarium of sandkings: small insect-like creatures that form alliances and coalitions, fight wars over land and food, but live in peace when able. They even worship their owner, if he feeds them and takes good care of them. Kress seeks to control them and make them his playthings, until they become too intelligent and powerful - they break free of the terrarium, increasing in size, until Kress has no means of escape.

In this first collection, one sees where the writer George R. R. Martin came from, and what led to his becoming an important writer in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. In these stories, one sees the seeds of characters and story that would later lead to the epic Song of Ice and Fire series. In Dreamsongs Volume I, Martin confesses that he would never be able to write as well as one of his childhood idols, J. R. R. Tolkien, and yet he has now been labeled by many the American Tolkien. In my opinion, Martin is destined to become one of the most important fantasy writers of our time.

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