Review: THE MEN OF GREYWATER STATION, by GRR Martin & H. Waldrop (audio file)

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Thanks to SF SIGNAL, one of my favorite SFF-related sites, I learned of the existence of this short story: it was co-written by GRR Martin and Howard Waldrop as they met during a convention in 1976, as recounted by Martin himself on a blog post. Since then this short story has gone out of print, and only recently – with GRRM’s blessing – has been made available in audio format on the Starship Sofa site: it was through the SF Signal’s interview with Starship Sofa’s owner that I became aware of it.

I have to confess that audiobooks are not my “thing”, since I prefer to hold a book in my hands and I know that I get easily distracted if I simply listen to a narrating voice. And yet I discovered a few wonderful short stories by GRR Martin, through audio recordings read by the amazing voice of actress Claudia Black, so I decided to try this one out, and it proved to be an interesting experience indeed.  It seems only fitting to post this now that the Game of Thrones series has returned to our screens…

The story itself seems to widen the reader’s understanding in concentric circles, like the ripples you get when throwing a stone in a pool of water: information is presented in ever-expanding focus, and in the end you see the full picture – a very grim one.   A group of explorers lives on an isolated research station on a faraway planet, where they appear to be besieged by the local fauna and in constant danger from a fungus whose spores seem able to take control of living organisms.  The mood is claustrophobic, the sense of impending danger palpable from the very beginning and the descriptions of the place where the station was built do nothing to inspire the reader’s faith in an uplifting tale.

To reveal more of the plot would be a massive spoiler. What I feel free to share is that the overall “flavor” of this story brought me back to the old-style novels I used to read in my youth: a more… simplistic narrative frame, for want of a better word, where men find themselves battling alien creatures and there are no women included in the team.  It’s clearly the product of earlier times in the evolution of the genre and in the personal journey of the author, so I can “blame” the lack of elements more suited to modern sensibilities to both the time-frame in which this was created and the still-growing skills of the writer.  That said, the story was interesting enough to keep my attention focused, and the resolution at the end felt like a good payoff.

Last, but not least, a few words about the narrating voice, belonging to Nick Camm: he managed to create different personalities through changes in tone and accent for every character in the story, making it very easy for me to visualize them all as single individuals. A noteworthy performance, indeed.

 

My Rating:

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Posted on April 26, 2016, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. The story itself sounds interesting, and this is the first I’ve heard of it – but what I’m more excited about are your comments about your experience with audio. Claudia Black is an amazing narrator! Her voice literally gives me tingly feelings down my spine! I may have to look into those other GRRM audio shorts that you spoke of 🙂

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    • Yes, Claudia Black is indeed amazing: that’s why when I followed the Farscape boards at TerraFirma she was mostly called “Her Awesomeness” 🙂
      The four GRRM shorts (some not so short…) she read are: In the Morning Comes Mistfall; In The Lost Lands; The Glass Flower and Skin Trade, all of them from the “Dream Songs” collection. If you can’t find them, let me know: I will be happy to share my .mp3 files!

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  2. First I’ve heard of this too. To be honest – I can’t ‘do’ audio books. I’ve never actually tried, which I realise is bad, but I know without even going there that I would just zone out and my attention would wander! It sounds terrible and I feel ashamed really – not to mention it would be great to be able to listen to books and do other things, but I just can’t!
    Lynn 😀

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    • What you say about audiobooks leading to distraction is quite true, at least for me: it’s one of the reasons I miss out on so many interesting podcasts – I can never summon the same kind of focus I find for a book. The human mind is a strange creature, indeed… 🙂

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  3. HI there! *waves*

    Glad you liked the interview…for what it’s worth I’m not the owner of StarShipSofa. Just the fiction editor slash audio producer, but I’ll take the praise at what it’s worth.

    I infinitely prefer reading the text and having a book in hand, but there’s some stuff that’s great to listen to in the car and such.

    Either way, I’m glad you liked the story, we all thought Nick Camm did an excellent job with it. Hope you stick around for a few more episodes!

    – Jeremy

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    • Ooops! Sorry about the misunderstanding! Lucky for me that it was a nice one… 🙂
      Audiobooks are something of a challenge for me, since English is an acquired language and I need *total* concentration to understand what’s being said, but in this case the narrator’s speech was quite good, so I had no problem at all.
      And I will certainly keep an eye on the site, thank you!

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