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on 23 June 2006
This was originally published by Subterranean Press as a limited edition only print. As a lover of George R R Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF)" series, this and the few short stories I'd read of his, had left me wanting more of his work but as it covered such a variety of genres and as one not known to stray too far from my love of fantasy fiction I didn't know which of his works to read. This seemed a perfect introduction but I still had to think long and hard before I did buy it as I'd never spent so much on a single book before.

I certainly wasn't disappointed - this is the most wonderful and expansive selection of short stories and novella's - many award winning - spanning his varied and interesting career that you'll ever find.

But the highlight of the book for me is the biographies prefacing each section of stories - Martin explains what inspired him to start writing as a small boy to entertain himself and friends. From his early submissions to fanzines he tells how the twists of fate led him on his way to a career spanning various genre but all written with his brilliant understanding of what drives people and his amazing ability to put those desires and emotions down on paper. These honest, poignant, generous, "no holes barred" and often very funny introductions show the life experiences that help him to write such masterpieces as " With Morning Comes Mistfall", "A Song for Lya", "Sandkings", "The Pear-Shaped Man" and "The Skin Trade" - all included in this anthology.

I've heard many books described as a must read but if I was to be stranded on a desert island and only allowed one book, for its sheer variety and scope and its page-turning appeal, this is definitely at the top of my list. It was definitely worth every penny I spent on it knowing its something I will go back to time and again - and you lot get it for even less than I paid - so what are you waiting for?
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So you've sat down and read all of the Song of Fire and Ice novels, the wait for the next instalment is killing you, what are you going to do, well you can go out pick up this novel and bring it home, full of short stories by a master storyteller you will not be disappointed, including some pieces that a number of people may not have been aware were Georges creations, things like The Sandkings which you may well have watched in the Outer Limits.

This book is one that crosses right across his writing career and perhaps the biggest question is how did George actually arrive at his selection from so many available. This is not a complaint though, this is a compliment as personally had I had to sit down and choose a selection of his best stuff I probably would have been arguing about it from here until doomsday. This is a great little (well big actually) Stocking filler for all fans and if you know that your Dad's a fan something that is very affordable for all pockets. I love books like this, they're not only economically ideal but the sheer variety of the contents makes it a joy to read time and again, then throw in the bountiful forwards to each section by GRRM and well you've got a nice little nugget of goodness that will take a bit of time to read but can be dipped into when you wish so can be eked out to fill that need until the next instalment in that favoured series. Highly recommended.
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on 30 March 2007
Certainly there are a great many stories packed in here. Each section is preceded by an introductory paragraph from GRRM explaining his personal story at the point he was writing each of the entries.

The range varies: science fiction, horror, fantasy, TV screenplays, comicbook heroes - lots of stuff. Some stories are very short, some are novellas. The quality also varies considerably and I found myself skipping some of them altogether... while others had me hooked.

If I were to generalise I would say: he is better at fantasy than he is at science fiction; his horror stories aren't scary; it's a shame he hasn't had more luck with television; a good proportion of his stories end in a depressing way; but his characterisation is superlative whatever he's writing.

Mixed bag? You bet. It might be your cup of tea, it might not be. Personally, I found this difficult to finish and although some stories would be 5-star, I feel others would only be 1-star, hence the rating.
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on 9 May 2010
I have enjoyed every moment reading this book. I liked the unique way to combine the biography with the short stories. In the first stories, you can observe the youth and the inexperience of the author, but nevertheless the stories are quite good, very enjoyable read.

If anybody cares, I would definitely recommended this book.
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on 3 January 2008
This is an exceptional collection. To start with, the story average is 3.80, which is pretty staggering for over 30 pieces from the same author. He also throws in a couple of screenplays, which look ok to me, but I know nothing about those, really.

It also has a cool orange cover. We need more orange books I think. John Wyndham's Wanderers of Time, the Legion of Space by Jack Williamson, etc. Also note the cute coat of arms, and its quartering to represent the genres that he loves and works in.

A fair bit of work has gone in to the book as far as introducing the material goes, and there is also quite a bit of autobiographical discussion, in the discussion sections that precede each of the nine sections that the book is broken down into, going from his childhood, right up until the later stories.

He talks about growing up, loving comics still 'bleeds four colour ink' he says, then discovering paperbacks, Heinlein, Howard, Tolkien, etc. He likes his football, and given all the mentions of SF convention parties, is probably not averse to a beer. My kind of guy. Science fiction, fantasy and horror, it is all good to him, and he is good at all of it.

There is also a complete bibliography up until the end of 2002. Although this came out now, apparently Subterranean published a collectable fancy version in 2003, hence the bibliography date. When this book started to appear he may not have had a lot more to report, either, working mostly on his fat fantasies and not short stories, or getting Wild Cards going again. All in all, I am really happy Gollancz has decided to bring this great book out for the rest of us normal mortal readers and made it accessible.

The Song and Ice of Fire books don't appeal to me at all, having tried one and couldn't get through it, so happily none of that sort of thing is here. He can write all of those he wants though, if he can keep Wild Cards ticking over.

However, there is a 'prequel' story of sorts from this world set a far while in the past, The Hedge Knight, which I thought was rather good. Apart from the brutally realistic type of violence, this has a much more T. H. White feel in some of it, rather than say, Nigel Tranter on crank.

He also picks Shell Games from Wild Cards, one of the best stories from that series of books, too.

Anyway, a brilliant collection. Five stars, no doubt about it.

Dreamsongs : Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Fortress - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : And Death His Legacy - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Hero - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Exit to San Breta - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Second Kind of Loneliness - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : With Morning Comes Mistfall - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : A Song for Lya - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : This Tower of Ashes - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : And Seven Times Never Kill Man - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Stone City - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Bitterblooms - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Way of Cross and Dragon - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Ice Dragon - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : In the Lost Lands - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Meathouse Man - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Remembering Melody - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Sandkings - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Nightflyers - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Monkey Treatment - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Pear-Shaped Man - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : A Beast for Norn - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Guardians - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Shell Games - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : From the Journal of Xavier Desmond - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Under Siege - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Skin Trade - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Unsound Variations - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Glass Flower - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : The Hedge Knight - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs : Portraits of His Children - George R. R. Martin

The Demon Lord Saagael learns you can't keep a good Golden Ghost down when he challenges Doctor Weird.

3 out of 5

Finnish patriotism vs cowardice.

4 out of 5

A political killing has unpleasant results, as far as the hitman sees it.

3 out of 5

Army retirement plan not good.

4 out of 5

Ghost car.

3.5 out of 5

Waiting for spaceships can be crazy work.

4 out of 5

Do they have to come and wreck all the good spots?

4 out of 5

Post sooicide Union Joining rejection.

4 out of 5

Saving old girlfriends and their new boyfriends is a stupid, painful experience.

4.5 out of 5

Space kult gets pyramid power taste of their own prior killer solution.

3.5 out of 5

Guess I'll take gate travel over ship travel if that is all there is going. Less bloody fox people too.

4 out of 5

Tv is not a substitute for space travel you lecherous old bag.

4 out of 5

Judas Star Knights.

3.5 out of 5

Love guardian.

4 out of 5

I'm melting.

3 out of 5

Some services will leave you skint. Wered.

4 out of 5

Dead love handles.

4 out of 5

Bloody longtime parasite woman.

4 out of 5

Feed your pets properly, fool.

4 out of 5

Scary spaceship slaughter single.

4 out of 5

The little guy can sure put me away.

4 out of 5

Cheez doodles? Imagine if he used Cheesels!

4 out of 5

A spot of supply problems for an animal combat arena.

3 out of 5

Namor, Prince of the Deep is a kitten.

3.5 out of 5

Turtle power, Tachyon cower. Team-up!

5 out of 5

Joker leader WHO Tour account.

3.5 out of 5

Time to be chess champion, if I can save the world first.

3.5 out of 5

Mirror mirror on the wall, werewolf killer, blood will call.

4.5 out of 5

Joke victim's alternate timeline chessteam revenge.

4 out of 5

Game for a new life?

4.5 out of 5

Innocent defense seven-on-seven deathmatch disaster.

4.5 out of 5

Stop writing about me, you bastard.

3.5 out of 5

5 out of 5
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