|When bad covers happen...|
- Nightflyers (1980): Martin's acclaimed novella of horror and first contact was badly mangled by the recent SyFy Channel series, mercifully canceled after one season. Set thousands of years in the future, "Nightflyers" follows the efforts of an interstellar archaeology team to make First Contact with the mysterious Volcryn. The Volcryn fly between the stars at normal spatial velocities, avoiding star systems and faster-than-light travel. Why? And why have they been doing it for at least tens of thousands of years, flying outwards from the Galactic Core? Martin balances cosmic horror, a bit of grue, a sense of wonder, and a keen sense of irony once the final revelations arrive.
- Override (1973): Enjoyable, minor Corpse-handler story. Martin's walking dead do so with artificial brains in their heads, all under the control of that handler. Yuck!
- Weekend in a War Zone (1977): Dystopic, bleak satire of corporate outings. Would make a good half-hour Twilight Zone episode if they still made such a thing.
- And Seven Times Never Kill Man (1975): Another story set in the Thousand Worlds universe shows us aliens vs. humans. And not just any humans, but the horrible sect of humans who are Martin's parody of/commentary on Gordon Dickson's militaristic Dorsai.
- Nor the Many-Coloured Fires of a Star Ring (1976): The Star Ring was an FTL gateway created by dumping massive amounts of power into a pre-existing spatial rift. But in this story, the rift seems to open on a parallel universe.
- A Song for Lya (1974): One of Martin's cleverest, most affecting stories. Again set in the Thousand Worlds universe, "A Song for Lya" follows the efforts of a telepathic duo to discover the secrets of a planet of aliens that has lived in peaceful cultural stasis for thousands of years -- and whose attractions now seem to be wooing humans to have brain-eating blobs put on their heads. Yes, it's the most melancholy episode of Futurama ever!!!
Once upon a time, George R.R. Martin was a writer of terrific short stories and novellas. His first novel, written with Lisa Tuttle, was a fix-up of previously published stories, as was a later novel, Tuf Voyaging.
These stories all come from about two decades or more before Game of Thrones hit the book-stands. Some of them are from different universes Martin created -- the Star Ring universe, the Corpse-handler universe, and the Thousand Worlds of humanity thousands of years in the future. They all make for fine reading. Highly recommended.