“Dreamsongs Volume II” by George R. R. Martin (Bantam, 2007)

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In this second and final volume of George R. R. Martin’s short works, readers are treated to his writings of the 1980’s leading up to the 90s when his career took off with the eventual success of his Song of Ice and Fire series.  It is in this collection that we learn more of Martin’s dabbling into television and screenwriting, as well his exploits into the world of Dungeons & Dragons.

Divided into four parts, the first covers two stories involving Martin’s eccentric character Haviland Tuf, an animal seller, who is the last surviving member of the ancient and defunct Ecological Group.  Tuf with his menagerie travel the universe in The Ark, a ship that is many miles in length.  All stories involving Tuf were eventually collected and published in a book, Tuf Voyaging, which Martin recommends fans seek out to read more about the redoubtable Tuf, but they must seek the used and out-of-print stores to find a copy.

The second part covers Martin’s trip into screenwriting, specifically for TV shows.  Two shows that Martin worked on were the 1980s incarnation of The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast.  Scripts for two episodes of The Twilight Zone: “The Road Less Traveled,” and “Doorways” are included here.  While this was essentially the end for Martin’s involvement in TV, he is quick to point out that he learned greatly from it.  It was just one of the stepping stones that led to the creation of his epic fantasy series, still some years away.

In the third section, Martin discusses the surprising success of the Wild Cards series, which began with role-playing games amongst a group of writers – including Martin – when he moved to Santa Fe.  The worlds, ideas and set-ups created for the different games were the impetus for the Wild Cards series which is still doing very well and now has its own website at http://www.wildcardsbooks.com/.

In the fourth and final part, Martin leads up to the start of his epic series with some popular stories along the way, as well as including the novella The Hedge Knight set ten years before the start of the series.  And for those hardcore fans, at the end there is an exhaustive and comprehensive listing of all George R. R. Martin’s works, should one feel the compunction to read absolutely everything the man has ever written.

While the completion and release date for the fifth Song of Ice and Fire book, A Dance With Dragons, is still a distant and unknown destination, the Dreamsongs series can lead one on tangents into Martin’s other writings, eventually bringing them full circle when A Dance With Dragons is eventually released.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 15th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.

2 Books in 2 Days

I essentially read two books over the last two days, both due in part to the Halloween season.

The first is The Halloween Tree by  Ray Bradbury (reviewed here), which I now read annually the week before Halloween each year.  It’s a wonderful short book that covers the history of Halloween and how different cultures have viewed and practiced it over the years, all told through the eyes of a bunch of boys dressed up for Halloween who travel across the ages.

Also read The Box: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson.  I’ve never read Matheson before and was happy to get my hands on a collection of some very entertaining stories, some of which I recognized, all mostly featuring a fun surprising twist at the end — in some cases I was able to spot it just before I got to it — as well as the story “Mute” which was a Twilight Zone episode.  My review for The Box will be showing up shortly on BookBanter.net.