Volume 2, Number 3, July 1984

Fevre Dream

By George R. R. Martin

Pocket Books, 1982.
Reviewed by Michael Grossberg
July 1984

I wish i had read this book in 1982 so that I could have nominated it for the Prometheus Award last year. Of course, so many good novels are published each year that it's almost impossible for one person—or the entire current LFS membership—to keep abreast of everything worthy of nomination.

Fevre Dream certainly deserved to be nominated. It might even have become a finalist, because it's a brilliant, imaginative, well-written novel whose basic theme is self-determination and whose basic perspective is the value of personal autonomy and the disvalue of coercion and slavery. But I don't think it would have been a winner because the novelist never explicitly addresses these libertarian issues, apparently preferring to concentrate on telling a story without raising any explicit philosophical or political themes.

And what a gripping, soaring story it is. Fevre Dream is at once a historical saga (really making life on the Mississippi riverboats come alive), a horror story (about vampires), and a science fiction story (ultimately offering an explanation for vampires that makes the story credible scientifically). It works on every level—historic, mythic, romantic.

I haven't read a better-written novel in a long, long time. It couldn't be improved by one word or scene. It's perfect. Every implicit facet of the book is totally fulfilled. Read it, and then, as Harlan Ellison suggests, you'll find it to be the "kind of chiller one rereads… the milieu is arresting, the pace hellbent, the characters vibrant… Fevre Dream runs red with original, high adventure."

In short, George Martin is one hell of a writer, who LFS members should keep an eye on. His latest novel, Armageddon Rag, just came out. I haven't had time to find and read it yet, but I hear it has a theme of enormous potential interest to LFS members; the political turmoil of the anarchistic 1960's merged with science fiction, rock and roll. [Huh? —the editor]

If Martin's latest novel lives up to its subject matter, here's hoping it will not be overlooked for a future Prometheus Award.

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