I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin for a long time, ever since I picked up the first of the Wild Cards books that he edited and managed. A couple years ago I picked up A Game of Thrones, the first of his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, and was simply amazed.
Thanks in part to his success with the Ice and Fire books, they have reprinted some of his earlier novels. I’ve just read two of them, ‘Dying of the Light’ and ‘Fevre Dream’, and both of them are very good.
Dying of the Light takes place on a rogue planet, Worlorn. When this frozen planet was found to have a path near a grouping of stars that would thaw it out, the planets of the fringe decided to have a festival. They set up 14 cities, and for ten years, five approaching the stars and five moving away, they held this festival. Now, seven years past the festival, the planet is closing on being too far from the stars. The light is fading, and the world is growing cold. This is where Dirk comes to find Gwen, an old flame, who has sent him a message for help. Abandoned by most of the worlds after the festival, Worlorn is now the residence of a few hundred people who didn’t wish to leave, and Gwen and her team studying the interactions of the plants and animals brought to Worlorn that should have never met. Gwen has a new man in her life, two of them in fact, and they belong to a culture that is steeped in tradition. And its the traditions of those people, the Kavalars, that pushed them all down a dark path.
I have to say that I was wary of the book at first. I love sci-fi films, but sci-fi books have often left me cold. Some times this book was a bear to read, trying to keep in mind all the alien terms used throughout and trying to understand them all by their context. In the end though, I did enjoy it very much. It was a good read.
Fevre Dream was altogether different. If someone had slapped the book in my hands and said I would enjoy this book about Steamboats on the Mississippi, I’d have called them a liar. But George has put together quite an excellent novel. The story is of a river boat captain, Abner Marsh, who’s had a string of bad luck, resulting in all but one of his boats being destroyed. He’s approached by a strange man who offers to pay to build the best boat on the river, all Abner has to do is take him on as a partner and never question his bizarre habits. So begins the friendship of Abner and Joshua York, a man who sleeps by day, lives by night, and has a fondness for a wine of his own private stock… a vampire.
Martin’s take on vampires in this book is very interesting, and his characterization of Marsh and the rest of his crew is fantastic. And without ruining it, this book is home to one the most fascinating and yet slowest chase scenes I’ve ever read. I devoured this book much more quickly that I expected, and in the end I wanted to hear more, even though there was no more to tell. I highly recommend it to just about anyone.