Sunday, January 9, 2011

Short Story Sunday-Jan. 9, 2011

"Override" by George R. R. Martin
First Printing:  Analog, September 1973

Martin writes a story about world that uses the science fictional equivalent of zombies.  "Handlers" take the bodies of dead men and use a device to control them.  They are used in environments that are too dangerous for humans.  Trouble begins when the workforce is outlawed.  The protagonist takes his group on a final mission to harvest a treasure.  Then his slaves revolt.
Martin is one of the best at building atmosphere.  His worlds seem alien and usually feel very old.  This story is no exception.  His worlds always feel "real".  The cultures have a history.  It does not seem like they were just created for this story.

At one point Martin was going to add more stories to this series.  It is too bad that he did not expand on it.

Highly recommended.  "Override" is an example of a classic Martin short story.


Randy Johnson said...

Not familiar with this one. I'll try to seek it out. My favorite of Martin's is SandKings

adamosf said...

Good luck with all those challenges! I hope to read and post more this year, but I will refrain from setting specific goals. / Martin is one of my favorite sf writers (although I have not read his ongoing monster fantasy epic series), and I have several of his collections, all worthwhile, including this story. Good stuff.

Carl V. said...

Great story Jim! I went to look it up, discovered it was in the Nightflyers collection I had in the basement, and promptly ran down, grabbed it, read it, and added it to the short story post I put up earlier this evening. I really enjoyed this one and am disappointed he hasn't written any more stories in this series. Something about the story made me think of Martin's collaborative novel, Hunter's Run, which I highly recommend.

Carl V. said...

Oh, and if you get a chance to post a brief introduction about yourself, with favorite books, stories, etc. on the book club site that would be great. I think you'll fit in great.

Jim Black said...

Good news. Based on Martin's comment in Dreamsongs, there are more stories in this series. The series consists of...
1. Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg
2. Override
3. Meathouse Man
4. A four page fragment was written but never finished.
He has notes in his files for another dozen stories.

Originally, he planned on publishing the series in a collection called "Songs the Dead Men Sing". Later, he used that name for another collection. The only corpse story in it is "Meathouse Man". I will have to read/review the other two existing stories.

Carl V. said...

Great! Thanks for that Jim.

Jeff said...

Nice review! Carl let me know he was reading this one today so I picked up my copy of Nightflyers and read it tonight as well.

I enjoyed it quite a bit. We both commented it reminded us a little of Hunter's Run which we each liked a lot. I would recommend Sandkings as well and A Song for Lyra as other good GRRM Scifi tales.

Anonymous said...

ooh, i've got a copy of Nightflyers floating around somewhere in the garage...gotta go find it now!

Carl V. said...

I know I'm going to read some more stories out of that this weekend.