|Submitted by Katie |
(Feb 18, 2005)
One of the most heartbreaking things in modern fantasy and sci-fi, I believe, is the difficulty in getting your hands on George RR Martin's earlier work. Considering the fact that 'The Song of Ice and Fire' is lauded by many (and myself) as the best fantasy series in recent years, I find it shocking that so few people read his novella's and short stories.
Part of this is because, quite simply, his other work is rather difficult to find at any of the major bookstores. Barnes and Noble, Borders, and all the various major chains seem not to care even to try stocking any Martin other than SoIaF. Still, they will order them for you, provided that you call and ask. I came across A Song for Lya (as well as Nightflyer) at the used bookstore in town and bought them immediately, before anyone else could get their grubby hands on them. It wasn't until I read the first short story in this collection that I realized what I'd been missing out on all my life. In Mistfall we are introduced to characters in a shrouded and mysterious world in which the days are marked by the rise and fall of dense mist, a world rumoured to be haunted by wights but nevertheless magical for the imaginings the very mystery of the place inspires. The collection ends with A Song for Lya, the story of two telepaths investigating religious suicides on an ancient world. This last story, I have to admit, gave me chills up my spine for several days. I could not stop thinking about it in the shower, in the elevator, on the bus. It was absolutely fantastic and haunting, and as always with Martin, struck a cord at the center of the human condition. (Really, I mean it.)
One of the great things about George RR Martin's shorter fiction is the fact that he can deal with certain themes more succinctly and directly than he can in SoIaF. You'll find that in the Martinverse, many of these themes appear over and over again, although they remain always poignant and thought provoking. For example, loneliness appears frequently in A Song for Lya, whether is is pondered by a man alone at the very end of the universe, another lost in a vertiginous'no-space', or feared and shunned by Lya when she makes her final decisions.
In the end, I firmly believe that George RR Martin is the undisputed master of fantasy and of sci-fi - this is obvious from the moment you turn the first pages of A Song for Lya. Do not miss this one!