Review of Dreamsongs: Volume 1 by George R.R. Martin

November 14, 2007
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Selections from Dreamsongs, Volume 1 by George R.R. MartinSelections from Dreamsongs Volume 1: Fan Fiction and Sci-Fi from Martin’s Early Years
By George R.R. Martin; Read by Claudia Black, Mark Bramhall, Scott Brick, Roy Dotrice, Kim Mai Guest, Kirby Heyborne, and Adrian Paul
12 CDs; 15 hours; [UNABRIDGED SELECTIONS]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780739357125
Themes: / Science Fiction / Horror / Fantasy / Short Stories / Biography /

Audiobooks have evolved over the past few years in a number of ways. CD’s are now the norm, cassettes used to be. Many more titles are being made into audiobooks. But still, even though audiobooks are a distinct medium, they still haven’t taken the inevitable step away from print. This audiobook, which is quite excellent, is a good example of what I mean. Though this is a collection of short stories, nowhere, on the inside or outside of the packaging, does it list the Table of Contents. This kind of thing has audiobook listeners looking for the print version of the book for this information. It’s as if audiobooks are being made as an augmentation of their print counterparts. Surely, they should be created stand-alone. Information, like the Table of Contents of a short story collection, should not only be included, but it should be visible before purchase.

Still, like I said, this audiobook is excellent. It’s the first of three collections that contain selections from the three Dreamsongs books that collect George R.R. Martin’s short fiction. This Volume covers the early years of Martin’s career, from his fan fiction publications through his first sales to his first awards.

As interesting as the included stories are the biographical introductions to each section that are read by George R.R. Martin himself. These introductions are lengthy, though I would have enjoyed even more of them. He talks about his first writings, his first sale, his first nominations, and his first Hugo, for “A Song of Lya”. It’s a candid overview of a writer’s life, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I enjoyed similar details in Stephen King’s On Writing.

A Four Color Fanboy, read by George R.R. Martin
“Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark”, read by Adrian Paul
“The Fortress”, read by Mark Bramhall
“And Death His Legacy”, read by Scott Brick
This section contains stories that Martin wrote for fanzines. If you want to read a villain’s monologue as written by George R.R. Martin, look no further than “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark”, which is a “hero meets demon prince” story. Adrian Paul gives the story an uplifting dramatic reading.

The Filthy Pro, read by George R.R. Martin
“The Hero”, read by Roy Dotrice
“The Exit to San Breta”, read by Scott Brick
“The Second Kind of Loneliness”, read by Mark Bramhall
“With Morning Comes Mistfall”, read by Claudia Black
Roy Dotrice should read all of George R.R. Martin’s fiction. He’s just got this gravel quality that seems to match so many of Martin’s heroes. In “The Hero”, Martin’s first story sale, which Dotrice reads, a future soldier who has finished his tour of duty decides not to re-enlist, and to request passage to Earth, as was promised when he signed on. Dotrice manages to make the soldier even more believable.

The Light of Distant Stars, read by George R.R. Martin
“A Song for Lya”, read by Mark Bramhall
“The Tower of Ashes”, read by Kirby Heyborne
“And Seven Times Never Kill Man”, read by Roy Dotrice
“The Stone City”, read by Adrian Paul
“Bitterblooms”, read by Kim Mai Guest
“The Way of Cross and Dragon”, read by Roy Dotrice
And here we see Martin at near full-strength. “A Song for Lya”, read by Mark Bramhall, is the centerpiece of this volume as far as I’m concerned. It won Martin his first Hugo, and is a moving story about a couple who arrives at a planet to investigate the influence of the indigenous alien religion on humans. “The Way of Cross and Dragon” again deals with religion, but this time in a form that closely resembles the Catholic Church.

Audible.com has all three volumes of Dreamsongs available now. Not only can you buy each volume, but they’ve also allowed you to purchase the individual sections of the books, each introduced by the author. Wonderful stuff!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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