Lord Varys

George's other stuff

48 posts in this topic

On 04/02/2017 at 11:48 AM, larrytheimp said:

I've been meaning to get to Armageddon Rag, was the first Ebook I ever bought, maybe I'll bump it up the list.

The fantastical elements are the least interesting part of Armageddon Rag. It's really Martin's commentary on 1960s America.

Myself, I think Fevre Dream remains Martin's best novel.

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So in recently watched the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror (Season 3 Episode 4). It reminded me a lot of A Song for Lya, with just a dash of The Matrix. Though they went with a different ending.

I wonder if the writers were inspired by George's novella.

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On 8/2/2017 at 9:04 AM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

The fantastical elements are the least interesting part of Armageddon Rag. It's really Martin's commentary on 1960s America.

Myself, I think Fevre Dream remains Martin's best novel.

I agree completely on both accounts. I loved the Armageddor Rag for the first 75% of the novel. The whole group characters (the friends and the band) were among the best ones George has created, with lots of depth and subtle characterizations. The portrait of the  era was masterfully done. But then the fantastical elements merge in and everything becomes a mess. With a different approach it could have been George's best book. But as it stands, Fevre Dream is superior.

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I read this story before. I can totally see how the author reused Bretan Braith as the Hound and Ser Loras. This makes me want to go back and read the book again. I only checked the thread for this topic because I just found my Dying of the Light book again after a long time packed away somewhere. 

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On 2/4/2017 at 7:04 PM, Darth Richard II said:

ASOIAF is not scifi. No. No no no. Somewhere GRRM is screaming right now.

I didn't think so either until I read that The Pale Child Bakkalon, the god of the Steel Angels from The Thousands Worlds was re-created in the House of Black and White over in Braavos.  This realization led me to this article, where the author points out that ASOIAF is basically re-creating the GRRM-tropes and themes of And Seven Times Never Kill Man.

https://cantuse.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/influences-on-asoiaf-and-seven-times-never-kill-man/

I don't see any strong, form-criticism-based reason why ASOIAF can't exist in the universe of The Thousand Worlds.  Personally, I hope that in the final book, Tuf shows up.  And that he has cloned himself, and that clone is Varys.  Now THAT would really blow some readers' minds.

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Tuf Voyaging was only mentioned in passing further above? Any thoughts on that one? I read it a few weeks ago and found the first story/episode brilliant, the rest mostly entertaining but on a consiberably lower level. Towards the end the narration even acknowledges that Tuf has become a insufferably righteous holier-than-thou but this still mars about half of the stories, I'd say.

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8 hours ago, Wilbur said:

I didn't think so either until I read that The Pale Child Bakkalon, the god of the Steel Angels from The Thousands Worlds was re-created in the House of Black and White over in Braavos.  This realization led me to this article, where the author points out that ASOIAF is basically re-creating the GRRM-tropes and themes of And Seven Times Never Kill Man.

https://cantuse.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/influences-on-asoiaf-and-seven-times-never-kill-man/

I don't see any strong, form-criticism-based reason why ASOIAF can't exist in the universe of The Thousand Worlds.  Personally, I hope that in the final book, Tuf shows up.  And that he has cloned himself, and that clone is Varys.  Now THAT would really blow some readers' minds.

* Facebalms*

ASOIAF have easter eggs to GRRM's other books but easter eggs are NOT important to the plot in anyway 

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12 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Tuf Voyaging was only mentioned in passing further above? Any thoughts on that one? I read it a few weeks ago and found the first story/episode brilliant, the rest mostly entertaining but on a consiberably lower level. Towards the end the narration even acknowledges that Tuf has become a insufferably righteous holier-than-thou but this still mars about half of the stories, I'd say.

I felt much the same, they are good stories but I might have enjoyed them more if I hadn't read them all in one go because Tuf himself does get increasingly annoying after a while.

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On 9/5/2017 at 6:14 AM, Wilbur said:

I don't see any strong, form-criticism-based reason why ASOIAF can't exist in the universe of The Thousand Worlds.  Personally, I hope that in the final book, Tuf shows up.  And that he has cloned himself, and that clone is Varys.  Now THAT would really blow some readers' minds.

Martin has already stated that Westeros is not one of The Thousand Worlds.

http://grrm.livejournal.com/464984.html?thread=23461208#t23461208

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I got both of the Dreamsong volumes a few years ago, and it might be time to revisit them. Another fun bonus are the personal essays and critiques he includes in between stories. It's been a while since I've read Dying of the Light, and I suspect it's time to reread that one instead. 

As to ASOIAF being part of the 1000 Worlds (and that GRRM has stated it isn't), I don't mind the references, but I'd prefer that they remain subtle background hints. Even if for whatever reason, Westeros IS one of the 1000, I think it would be better to never make that clear. 

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I've just begun reading Dreamsongs right now. 

'Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark' is a fun and juvenile super hero story. Demon kings and evil temples are always fun. 'The Fortress' is an interesting take on historical fiction although I really don't know whether you enjoy the thing all that much without the context. Reading a story from the point of view of sympathetic nationalist military man is interesting albeit somewhat strange.

'And Death His Legacy' is interesting, too, although perhaps a little bit over the top. The ending is both sobering as well as sort of fun. Perhaps you can solve every problem by killing people, after all ;-).

'The Hero' is gives an interesting glimpse into the 'Thousand Worlds' world but as a story it is neither new nor particularly surprising. The naiveté of the hero is pretty touching. And George shows there that he was pretty gruesome very early on in his career.

'The Exit to San Breta' is a tedious read. A ghost car isn't exactly all that great a premise for a story, although the SF setting makes it somewhat interesting.

'The Second Kind of Loneliness' is well-written and depicts an interesting conflict - as well as giving a good glimpse into the heart of young George - yet it suffers from some obvious flaws of conception. Would the bureaucracy of space exploration really allow a love-sick guy with severe psychological issues to volunteer for such an important job? No. Would there be only one dude in such an important installation? No. And most importantly of all - would the bureaucracy allow such a guy to get away with destroying the ship delivering his replacement and all the while continue to send ships through the gate without finding out what's going on in the installation? No.

In that sense the story fails when you begin to think about the whole thing.

'With Morning Comes Mistfall' is well-written, too, but really not my type of story. I don't like the premise of science/the scientific method being put against romanticism - people doing that usually don't understand how science enriches and enchants reality rather than cheapening it. If humanity is so cheap it only cares to travel to Scotland if people believe Nessie exist we should still not make them believe it does. It might be better to stay home then. But I don't think we would, so the premise there doesn't convince me.

'A Song for Lya' is great but raises the stakes perhaps too high. Love is complicated, but a realistic depiction of telepath love is difficult - assuming it could actually be a thing if there were telepaths (knowing another person's innermost thoughts comes with a price that should - and most likely would - destroy all love) - and raising the stakes to the whole deep love of the (perhaps) existing Union collective is even more difficult.

People must be really insecure and unhappy with themselves and their lives to find happiness in this kind of thing. Lya and Robb not only belittle normal love but even their own real love for each other on the grounds that what they have can never be deep and complete enough. But who is to say that whatever those people that get eaten get anything better? Who is to say that what they are feeling is as deep as it can get? Perhaps there is something that's even deeper they have yet to discover? Union might be a great idea when death is approaching but surely not when you are young and in the middle of a working relationship...

But the real ugly thing there is that the 'love' the Joined feel for each other and others is not real at all. They don't know each other as individuals, and anybody craving such feelings - especially Lya as a telepath who can really feel it very strongly - doesn't crave being close to another person or a group of persons. They just crave this feeling of being loved. But what's that worth if it is just a telepathically transported feeling and/or something that is not part of a relationship or interaction with another person?

It still is a powerful story, though. The old human conundrum that we can't really know another person's deepest thoughts, feelings, desires - or how it would be to be another person or to merge with him or her - is raised and dealt with very effectively.

Edited by Lord Varys

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19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

'With Morning Comes Mistfall' is well-written, too, but really not my type of story. I don't like the premise of science/the scientific method put against romanticism - people doing that usually don't understand how science enriches and enchants reality rather than cheapening it. If humanity is so cheap it only cares to travel to Scotland if people believe Nessie exist we should still not make them believe it does. It might be better to stay home them. But I don't think we would, so the premise there doesn't convince me.4

I have always thought that that story cries out for a thematic sequel. "Scientists prove Nessie does not exist, but nobody takes the slightest notice."

This would be especially relevant now, when so many people choose to ignore scientific facts (or are bamboozled into thinking that they are not true).

 

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On 10/09/2017 at 11:38 PM, Lord Varys said:

'The Fortress' is an interesting take on historical fiction although I really don't know whether you enjoy the thing all that much without the context. Reading a story from the point of view of sympathetic nationalist military man is interesting albeit somewhat strange.

You've reminded me I was thinking about re-reading that sometimes soon, since I wandered round The Fortress of the title (Suomelina/Sveaborg) last month after the Helsinki Worldcon with a few other people from here. It's an interesting place to wander round, I'd recommend it to anyone visiting Helsinki.

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The Dreamsongs audio book has George as the narrator for the interstitial remarks, and I found his style to be very satisfying when combined with his personal remarks.  Well worth the effort to get your hands (and ears) on.

A few of the stories in the collection were ones that appeared in magazines or anthologies, so I had read them before outside the context of his other work.  However, when you read his work in a comprehensive or combined grouping like this one, his philosophy really comes into focus.

And once you have read and understood his philosophy, understanding his approach to ASOIAF becomes much, much easier.  Ideas such as, "The White Walkers are the One True Evil" become much less believable.

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I listed to the Dying of the Light in audiobook, which was the only way I could get it at the time. I liked it very much in the end and I have since acquired a hard copy as I had thought of writing up something about and thought I better be able to check my facts and find out how all those fantasy names were spelled. I haven't in fact written a word though.

I found it a bit annoying and confusing on the way through, as my husband expostulated some way in 'this is the dumbest book I've ever heard' due to certain things in the plot that I have just realised would be spoilers to mention.

I have also listened to a couple of novellas which were OK but can't even remember the names. 

I have also recently started listening to the audiobooks of ASOIF which I think is a good way to read it - like a radio serial. My sister had the audiobooks and commented that it worked very well as audio and it seemed like it was designed that way. I started reading the series not knowing it was an unfinished series (!) and raced through missing whole chunks because its just too much to take in. I also just can't hack novels that change between a whole lot of different POVs. I tend to pick one and go through that then double back. Not a good way to read, probably. Audio forces you to take it at a more relaxed pace.

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I've continued:

'The Tower of Ashes' has very much a similar love triangle thing as Dying of the Light - which isn't surprising considering that he began writing the novel around the same time as he wrote that story - and you really can feel how much the young George had to deal with the issue there.

I liked that story, especially since it isn't really clear what happens at the end. Does Johnny really survive? How did Gerry get out of the spider web? And isn't it odd that the cat Squirrel has eight white legs in the end? Perhaps they are all being devoured by the spiders with Johnny being stuck in some poison-induced dream reality?

But even if that's not the case the brooding ending is nice. If you like stories about lovesick young men who think the world revolves around them ;-).

I liked 'And Seven Times Never Kill Man' very much. The way those religious fanatics ruin themselves in the end is very compelling, especially in light of the fact that you don't really learn how exactly - not because there is no explanation, but because the characters in the story are not able to get one due to the circumstances. The characters are also very compelling here - both Arik, the Steel Angels, and especially the Jaenshi female who grew angry.

'The Stone City' starts very strong and the longings and desires of the protagonist are very well flashed out and connect very well with me as a reader. But the ending weakens the premise of the story. Getting lost in some old ruin and having visions - or actually visiting? - other worlds in some sort of time-warp isn't what you expect. You expect more in that kind of thing - either some sort of weird revelation or the clear and complete rejection - and subsequent destruction - of the character.

'Bitterblooms' is a really great story. I wasn't much in for the Arthurian romanticism there but the feeling of the world and the growing of the character and her eventual end was a very good read. What is sad in that story is that you really don't know who the hell the woman truly was, who the ship originally belonged to, and how she figured out using it the way she did - assuming she comes from another world at all.

Especially the icy world and the feeling of winter come across here very fine. One really hopes George finds the time to write such atmospheric chapters now that winter has finally begun in ASoIaF.

It also seems to be the first story where George works on the whole incest thing - those families are larger than the standard core families, of course, but Shawn thinks of the late Lune as her father, brother, lover. The women sleep around during those gatherings but they also conceive children with the many lovers they pick among their family members. One really wonders whether this kind of setting would have fit better with the wildlings of Westeros, especially those living in the far north.

'The Way of Cross and Dragon' is great fun, although I find the premise on which the whole idea of the Liar cult is based on - that (religious) believers are happier than people who actually see the truth of the world as it is - as faulty. It isn't true for most secular people alive today. But aside from that the story is a great read. Who would have thought that Aegon the Conqueror began his illustrious career as Judas Iscariot - 'Judas the Conqueror, Judas the Dragon-King, Judas of Babylon, the Great Usurper'?

But one would really like to know what happened to the protagonist later in life. The new name of his ship sounds ominous...

On 11.9.2017 at 8:04 PM, A wilding said:

I have always thought that that story cries out for a thematic sequel. "Scientists prove Nessie does not exist, but nobody takes the slightest notice."

This would be especially relevant now, when so many people choose to ignore scientific facts (or are bamboozled into thinking that they are not true).

Well, George seems to follow the rationalist approach of a proper intellectual that people would actually care about empirical evidence. The fact that people who want to believe - or want to be fooled - don't care all that much about that actually undercuts the premise of the story.

But then - the idea that the existence of those wraiths could successfully be disproved beyond the shadow of a doubt doesn't make a lot of sense. It is a large planet and those things could be an unknown form of life which is difficult to find and track down, etc. Loch Ness is much smaller and could essentially be drained and the entire vicinity could be investigated meticulously.

An entire planet is a different animal. Only people really caring about the scientific method and empirical investigations would allow themselves to be convinced that the wraiths to not exist.

On 13.9.2017 at 0:58 AM, williamjm said:

You've reminded me I was thinking about re-reading that sometimes soon, since I wandered round The Fortress of the title (Suomelina/Sveaborg) last month after the Helsinki Worldcon with a few other people from here. It's an interesting place to wander round, I'd recommend it to anyone visiting Helsinki.

I guess one of you guys should have taken the story with you for the trip. That could make for a fun outdoor reading. And I'm pretty sure it helps a lot if you know more about the historical context and actually have seen the fortress in detail.

I recently read the TMK comic, and realized that it really greatly helps to enjoy that if you get the measurements and looks of Whitewalls in detail. When Dunk starts walking around after his head injuries one would really like to know where the hell he is going in relation to the castle, etc.

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By the way - does anyone whether there are any plans to edit the Complete Fiction of George R. R. Martin?

Dreamsongs is just a collection of some of his stories, and others are to be found only in obscure old collections no longer in print. The novels are out there but the short stories and novellas aren't. At least not all of them.

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7 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

By the way - does anyone whether there are any plans to edit the Complete Fiction of George R. R. Martin?

Dreamsongs is just a collection of some of his stories, and others are to be found only in obscure old collections no longer in print. The novels are out there but the short stories and novellas aren't. At least not all of them.

I've not heard anything but I have thought that they could do a book which would effectively be Dreamsongs 2, I think there are enough stories out there that you could get a reasonable collection even if many of the best stories are taken already. I think that might be more likely than a Complete Collection, although it would be nice if there was one.

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I think Dreamsongs collects maybe 75-80% of his short fiction? There's not a truly vast amount left afterwards, and you 'd have issues that some of it was locked into other books (Wild Cards, mostly, but also the other ASoIaF shorts). Also, the stuff left out of Dreamsongs would have the problem of it not being necessarily among his best work.

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22 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I think Dreamsongs collects maybe 75-80% of his short fiction? There's not a truly vast amount left afterwards, and you 'd have issues that some of it was locked into other books (Wild Cards, mostly, but also the other ASoIaF shorts). Also, the stuff left out of Dreamsongs would have the problem of it not being necessarily among his best work.

The thing is, that George mentions a lot of stories he has written in those autobiographical essays in Dreamsongs that are not in the book. A couple of the early ones are lost, but others aren't. And they are not in there. The collection is a selection of George's work, not a complete collection. We only get one of the Dunk & Egg stories in there, and only a selection of the Tuf stories.

I really don't like reading a big short-story collection where the author is explicitly telling me what stuff I'm missing.

The issue is that if you want to read all of George's stuff you apparently have to look for it in magazines and collections that are out of print. And to have all you most likely have to buy some stories more than once since there are reprints of successful older stories in some of the newer collections, etc.

For instance, the collection A Song for Lya from the 70s includes 'Override', 'Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels', 'FTA', 'Run to Starlight', and 'Slide Show' that are all missing from Dreamsongs, and it continues in in a similar fashion with the second collection, Songs of Stars and Shadows, which lists another six stories that are not included in Dreamsongs.

Considering that he is a very prolific author by now I find it very odd that nobody is publishing his Complete Short Stories. Or hell, starts publishing his Complete Works in chronological order. He hasn't written all that much, and Dying of the Light could easily enough fit into a big first volume assembling the early part of his work which mostly focuses on lost love and those love triangles.

No idea whether something like that would be a big sale but quite a few people should buy that. I mean, these days pretty much everything with George's name on should sell.

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