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Dreamsongs: Volume I [Format Kindle]

George R. R. Martin
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Chapter One

A Four-Color Fanboy

In the beginning, I told my tales to no one but myself.

Most of them existed only in my head, but once I learned to read and write I would sometimes put down bits on paper. The oldest surviving example of my writing, which looks like something I might have done in kindergarten or first grade, is an encyclopedia of outer space, block-printed in one of those school tablets with the marbled black and white covers. Each page has a drawing of a planet or a moon, and a few lines about its climate and its people. Real planets like Mars and Venus co-exist happily with ones I'd swiped from Flash Gordon and Rocky Jones, and others that I made up myself.

It's pretty cool, my encyclopedia, but it isn't finished. I was a lot better at starting stories than I was at finishing them. They were only things I made up to amuse myself.

Amusing myself was something I'd learned to do at a very early age. I was born on September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey, the firstborn child of Raymond Collins Martin and Margaret Brady Martin. I don't recall having any playmates my own age until we moved into the projects when I was four. Before that, my parents lived in my great grandmother's house with my great grandmother, her sister, my grandmother, her brother, my parents, and me. Until my sister Darleen was born two years later, I was the only child. We had no kids next door either. Grandma Jones was a stubborn woman who refused to sell her house even after the rest of Broadway had gone commercial, so ours was the only residence for twenty blocks.

When I was four and Darleen was two and Janet was three years shy of being born, my parents finally moved into an apartment of their own in the new federal housing projects down on First Street. The word "projects" conjures up images of decaying high-rises set amongst grim concrete wastelands, but the LaTourette Gardens were not Cabrini-Green. The buildings stood three stories high, with six apartments on each floor. We had playgrounds and basketball courts, and across the street a park ran beside the oily waters of the Kill van Kull. It wasn't a bad place to grow up . . . and unlike Grandma Jones' house, there were other children around.

We swung on swings and slid down slides, went wading in the summer and had snowball fights in the winter, climbed trees and roller-skated, played stickball in the streets. When the other kids weren't around, I had comic books and television and toys to pass the time. Green plastic army men, cowboys with hats and vests and guns that you could swap around, knights and dinosaurs and spacemen. Like every red-blooded American kid, I knew the proper names of all the different dinosaurs (Brontosaurus, damn it, don't tell me any different). I made up the names for the knights and the spacemen.

At Mary Jane Donohoe School on Fifth Street, I learned to read with Dick and Jane and Sally and their dog, Spot. Run, Spot, run. See Spot run. Did you ever wonder why Spot runs so much? He's running away from Dick and Jane and Sally, the dullest family in the world. I wanted to run away from them as well, right back to my comic books . . . or "funny books," as we called them. My first exposure to the seminal works of western literature came through Classics Illustrated comics. I read Archie too, and Uncle Scrooge, and Cosmo the Merry Martian. But the Superman and Batman titles were my favorites . . . especially World's Finest Comics, where the two of them teamed up every month.

The first stories I can remember finishing were written on pages torn from my school tablets. They were scary stories about a monster hunter, and I sold them to the other kids in my building for a penny a page. The first story was a page long, and I got a penny. The next was two pages long, and went for two cents. A free dramatic reading was part of the deal; I was the best reader in the projects, renowned for my werewolf howls. The last story in my monster hunter series was five pages long and sold for a nickel, the price of a Milky Way, my favorite candy bar. I remember thinking I had it made. Write a story, buy a Milky Way. Life was sweet . . .

 . . . until my best customer started having bad dreams, and told his mother about my monster stories. She came to my mother, who talked to my father, and that was that. I switched from monsters to spacemen (Jarn of Mars and his gang, I'll talk about them later), and stopped showing my stories to anyone.

But I kept reading comics. I saved them in a bookcase made from an orange crate, and over time my collection grew big enough to fill both shelves. When I was ten years old I read my first science fiction novel, and began buying paperbacks too. That stretched my budget thin. Caught in a financial crunch, at eleven I reached the momentous decision that I had grown "too old" for comics. They were fine for little kids, but I was almost a teenager. So I cleared out my orange crate, and my mother donated all my comics to Bayonne Hospital, for the kids in the sick ward to read.
(Dirty rotten sick kids. I want my comics back!)

My too-old-for-comics phase lasted perhaps a year. Every time I went into the candy store on Kelly Parkway to buy an Ace Double, the new comics were right there. I couldn't help but see the covers, and some of them looked so interesting . . . there were new stories, new heroes, whole new companies . . .

It was the first issue of Justice League of America that destroyed my year-old maturity. I had always loved World's Finest Comics, where Superman and Batman teamed up, but JLA brought together all the major DC heroes. The cover of that first issue showed the Flash playing chess against a three-eyed alien. The pieces were shaped like the members of the JLA, and whenever one was captured, the real hero disappeared. I had to have it.

Next thing I knew, the orange crate was filling up once more. And a good thing, too. Otherwise I might not have been at the comics rack in 1962, to stumble on the fourth issue of some weird-looking funny book that had the temerity to call itself "the World's Greatest Comic Magazine." It wasn't a DC. It was from an obscure, third-rate company best known for their not-very-scary monster comics . . . but it did seem to be a superhero team, which was my favorite thing. I bought it, even though it cost twelve cents (comics were meant to be a dime!), and thereby changed my life.

It was the World's Greatest Comic Magazine, actually. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were about to remake the world of funny books. The Fantastic Four broke all the rules. Their identities were not secret. One of them was a monster (the Thing, who at once became my favorite), at a time when all heroes were required to be handsome. They were a family, rather than a league or a society or a team. And like real families, they squabbled endlessly with one another. The DC heroes in the Justice League could only be told apart by their costumes and their hair colors (okay, the Atom was short, the Martian Manhunter was green, and Wonder Woman had breasts, but aside from that they were the same), but the Fantastic Four had personalities. Characterization had come to comics, and in 1961 that was a revelation and a revolution.

The first words of mine ever to appear in print were "Dear Stan and Jack."

They appeared in Fantastic Four #20, dated August 1963, in the letter column. My letter of comment was insightful, intelligent, analytical—the main thrust of it was that Shakespeare had better move on over now that Stan Lee had arrived. At the end of my words of approbation, Stan and Jack printed my name and address.

Soon after, a chain letter turned up in my mailbox.

Mail for me? That was astonishing. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at Marist High School, and everyone I knew lived in either Bayonne or Jersey City. Nobody wrote me letters. But here was this list of names, and it said that if I sent a quarter to the name at the top of the list, removed the top name and added mine at the bottom, then sent out four copies, in a few weeks I'd get $64 in quarters. That was enough to keep me in funny books and Milky Ways for years to come. So I scotch-taped a quarter to an index card, put it in an envelope, mailed it off to the name at the top of the list, and sat back to await my riches.

I never got a single quarter, damn it.

Instead I got something much more interesting. It so happened that the guy at the top of the list published a comic fanzine, priced at twenty-five cents. No doubt he mistook my quarter for an order. The 'zine he sent me was printed in faded purple (that was "ditto," I would learn later), badly written and crudely drawn, but I didn't care. It had articles and editorials and letters and pinups and even amateur comic strips, starring heroes I had never heard of. And there were reviews of other fanzines too, some of which sounded even cooler. I mailed off more sticky quarters, and before long I was up to my neck in the infant comics fandom of the '60s.

Today, comics are big business. The San Diego Comicon has grown into a mammoth trade show that draws crowds ten times the size of science fiction's annual WorldCon. Some small independent comics are still coming out, and comicdom has its trade journals and adzines as well, but no true fanzines as they were in days of yore. The moneychangers long ago took over the temple. In the ultimate act of obscenity, Golden Age comics are bought and sold inside slabs of mylar to insure that their owners can never actually read them, and risk decreasing their value as collectibles (whoever thought of that should be sealed inside a slab of mylar himself, if you ask me). No one calls them "funny books" anymore.

Forty years ago it was very different. Comics fandom was in its infancy. Comicons were just starting up (I was at the first one in 1964, held in one room in Manhattan, and organized by a fan named Len Wein, who went on to run both DC and Marvel and...

Présentation de l'éditeur

Even before A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin had already established himself as a giant in the field of fantasy literature. The first of two stunning collections, Dreamsongs: Volume I is a rare treat for readers, offering fascinating insight into his journey from young writer to award-winning master.
Gathered here in Dreamsongs: Volume I are the very best of George R. R. Martin’s early works, including his Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker award–winning stories, cool fan pieces, and the original novella The Ice Dragon, from which Martin’s New York Times bestselling children’s book of the same title originated. A dazzling array of subjects and styles that features extensive author commentary, Dreamsongs, Volume I is the perfect collection for both Martin devotees and a new generation of fans.
“Fans, genre historians and aspiring writers alike will find this shelf-bending retrospective as impressive as it is intriguing.”—Publishers Weekly
Dreamsongs is the ideal way to discover . . . a master of science fiction, fantasy and horror. . . . Martin is a writer like no other.”—The Guardian (U.K.)
“Of those who work in the grand epic-fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best. In fact . . . this is as good a time as any to proclaim him the American Tolkien.”—Time
“Long live George Martin . . . a literary dervish, enthralled by complicated characters and vivid language, and bursting with the wild vision of the very best tale tellers.”—The New York Times
“I always expect the best from George R. R. Martin, and he always delivers.”—Robert Jordan

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 8380 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 676 pages
  • Editeur : Bantam (30 octobre 2007)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000W918RI
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°352.998 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 fantastic collection of short stories 3 janvier 2013
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
a must-have if you're a fan of The Song Of Ice and Fire, it will show you how talented and creative George R.R. Martin is and how wide is the universe he created... you'll get to travel to distant stars, in a mix of science-fiction, fantasy and horror that will let you discover how different are all the planets in our galaxy. I've discovered a new George R.R. Martin thanks to this collection and I hope it will be the same for you...
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  73 commentaires
173 internautes sur 177 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant 27 novembre 2007
Par Reza - Publié sur Amazon.com
Two things before I start the review: I am a big fan of Mr. Martin's 'Song of Ice & Fire' saga (like many fans, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of 'A Dance With Dragons'). The second point is that I have never been a fan of short stories. Well, up until now.

When I first heard about the release of Dreamsongs, I wasn't too thrilled. I knew Martin as a brilliant epic storyteller, but I was not sure whether his talents in creating complex, deep characters, exciting storylines, and magnificent settings could fit into the small world of short stories.

Suffice to say that my worries about Dreamsongs almost kept me from being exposed to some of the best stories that I have read. Dreamsongs is a collection of short stories written by Martin throughout his career as a writer. These tales cover a spectrum of genres including fantasy, science fiction, and even horror. I would like to emphasize one point: Every signature element that brought Martin to the pinnacle of fame that he has today is present in this collection of his earlier works.

Stories: Original, deep, and engaging are the words that come to mind when describing the tales in Dreamsongs. What I found surprising was how personal some of these stories were. From the fight for honor and country in 'The Fortress' to the very depths of human needs and emotions in the touching 'A Song for Lya'; From socio-political issues in 'And Death His Legacy' to war and propaganda in 'The Hero', I was hooked and pulled into the story every time. The tone of these tales can be commonly described as dark. I found myself thinking about these stories afterwards the way I thought about some of the Twilight Zone episodes: The stories are fiction, but there is always an underlying message in every story that rattles the reader a bit.

Settings: as Mr. Martin takes you away on a journey through planets, deep space, ancient temples, alien cities, lost highways, and mysterious jungles, he masterfully places you right in the middle of events. Fans of 'Song of Ice & Fire' will immediately recognize Martin's skill (which he apparently possessed from even his earliest of stories as a teenager) in making the settings come to life in the reader's mind.

Characters: Vulnerable, introspective, possessive, cowardly, mad, illogical, heroic, tired, fearful, lonely, and brave. You will come to know the characters in these stories as if they were real people. One thing that I found absolutely amazing was how the author could masterfully develop these characters in a few pages in a way that he did with the amazing cast of 'Song of Ice & Fire' within volumes of books.

I would easily recommend Dreamsongs to any fan of Geroge R.R. Martin or any fantasy/sci-fi reader who has been so unfortunate in life as to have never read any of his books. Ladies and gents, you are in for a treat.
30 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Masterful fiction alongside insightful introductions. 11 décembre 2007
Par Scott Andrews - Publié sur Amazon.com
This collection, whether in its 2003 limited-edition single-book format or in this new two-book one, showcases the career of a true master. Most fantasy novelists can't write prose well enough to succeed at the short form, and most fantasy short fiction stars can't write plots entertaining enough to attract fans to their novels. Perhaps it's Martin's cross-genre skill, equally adept at fantasy, science fantasy, and horror, that enables him to master both the short and novel formats, or perhaps it's the writerly training of that bygone era when short fiction was more common and more populist. Regardless, his classic award-winners like "Sandkings" still shine opposite early works like "The Fortress" and recent ones like "The Hedge Knight."

The other bounty in this collection is Martin's introductions to each chronological section, describing where he was at that point in his life and career, then detailing the genesis of all the stories. These commentaries offer insight into the man and the evolution of his craft.

Perhaps after he finishes his current saga, he'll dip back into short fiction, or write shorter pieces in between his longer projects like Stephen King does. That would surely offer great reads, and it might bring some fan attention back to the forgotten short fiction format.
30 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 GRRM's fantastic roots 2 décembre 2007
Par Cecil - Publié sur Amazon.com
I've been a big George R.R. Martin fan since reading "Fevre Dream" when I was a bit younger; although many of his fans seem to only be familiar w/ Song of Fire & Ice, I can assure you that most of his other works are just as good. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that many of his early and lesser known works were being collected and published in one volume, and I was quite upset when the original release date was changed(the release date for the US Dreamsongs was originally announced over a year ago at the same time the UK version; it was then scrapped and split into the 2 volumes for release here).
The fact that so many of the selections were award winners/award nominees speaks highly of the book to begin with, and although many of the stories in the first half of the book were written by a very young Martin (and it shows), the entire collection is filled with stories that grab hold of you and characters that you can really care about (a Martin specialty, imho). And though I've never been a big fan of anything that falls into the horror genre, I read and thoroughly enjoyed each and every story in the collection. The intros to each section are particularly enjoyable to read, as Martin discusses his sucesses and failures and the variety of influences on his early works, as well as some interesting anecdotes from his childhood.
My favorites from this volume include "The Exit to San Breta", "The Second Kind of Loneliness", "With Morning Comes Mistfall", "A Song for Lya", "The Way of Cross and Dragon", and of course, "Sandkings". I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dreamsongs, even for those who are not fans of short stories (I'm generally not); it is also a great introduction to Martin for those who are unfamiliar with his works - just don't judge the whole book by the first few stories!
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 If you're a fan of Martin's novels, well worth your time 27 décembre 2010
Par Ryan - Publié sur Amazon.com
(My thoughts on all three volumes)

A Game of Thrones (and its followups) made Martin a household name among fantasy nerds, but not many of us knew he had been writing for so long.

Those who enjoyed that series but haven't checked out his back catalog are missing something special. Going back to his early 20s, it's clear that he had obvious gifts and a love for the craft, even in the face of the thankless job of writing for fanzines and short-lived monthly periodicals. Check out a story he wrote in college, set during the Swedish-Russian war of 1808, which offers crisp characters and a delicious sense of the divisions war can create among allies.

As a fantasy writer, Martin gives readers what most readers are looking for: exotic worlds populated by characters both colorful and familiar. Yet, Martin's stories tend to be darker and more ambiguous than the norm. The Hedge Knight novella is a fine example of this, taking the reader into a Knight's tournament in the Ice and Fire universe through the eyes of the likable but clueless young bumpkin, Dunk. Soon, he's in over his head with dangerous games of skill and equally dangerous intrigues between powerful lords. Sadly, many fantasy pieces offer too brief of a visit to the worlds Martin created for them -- as he acknowledges in his commentary, he'd often start a series, then never return to it.

And those who only know Martin for fantasy may be surprised to find that he's an accomplished science fiction writer. These pieces offer atmosphere, exotic worlds, and human drama, but with more reflectiveness than the fantasy pieces and a dark, speculative edge. Many of them feel surprisingly fresh and undated. The horror stories fare a bit less well. Martin deploys some tongue-in-cheek humor, but the pieces, with their cultural references, can't help but feel like products of the 1980s.

Then there are the commentary pieces, revealing a man who's just as much of a geek as much of his readership. He even sounds a bit like the Simpson comic store guy!
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Whitman's Sampler of George R. R. Martin fantasy, horror, and science fiction goodness 29 février 2008
Par Joseph P. Menta, Jr. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Twenty-two terrific, highly readable stories, accompanied by five very entertaining autobiographical essays by the author (each essay introducing a group of stories and discussing what the author was doing in his life at the time he wrote the stories in question). There's also a nice little initial introduction to the whole package by Gardner Dozois.

What I liked a lot about these stories is the skillful, artful balance between clarity and ambiguity. Plot points and story developments are always very clear, so the reader knows exactly what is going on; yet Mr. Martin often chooses to pull back and let the reader decide the implications of characters' decisions rather than hit us over the head with an obvious "lesson".

It's funny, though. Mr. Martin's developed his writing craft much quicker than he accumulated life experience. The result: several stories ("The Second Kind of Loneliness" and "Meathouse Man" chief among them) that are highly polished in their craft but about little more than a young man's fear of talking to a pretty girl or depression when a relationship with said girl doesn't work out. Make no mistake, with their imaginative science-fiction, horror, or fantasy trappings, they're very interesting stories; I just thought it was amusing how, in certain particular stories, the writing was very sophisticated but the human/emotional themes were so basic. But even some of these stories feature the sophisticated ambiguity mentioned previously.

Highlights of the book? I particularly enjoyed the long "Nightflyers" (it's pretty much a novella); it reminded me of a really good Arthur C. Clarke story. "Sandkings" was a great SF/horror hybrid. And the out-and-out fantasy entry, "The Ice Dragon" was wonderful, too. In fact, there's not a clunker in the bunch, even among the early "fan fiction" stories ("Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark", "And Death His Legacy", etc.) also included by Mr. Martin.

When posting a positive review of an entry in a multi-part series, I try to avoid a trite closing sentence along the line of "this installment was great, and I'm certainly on board for the next volume." But, uh, there's really nothing left to say but... this installment was great and I'm certainly on board for the next volume.

Well, I do have ONE more thing to say. Maybe my new Amazon Kindle will arrive in time for me to purchase the also-hefty "Dreamsongs, Volume 2" via that handy electronic device. Like Mr. Martin's also excellent "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy novels, these suckers are BIG books and a bit of a pain to lug around. Get working, Amazon!
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