Television fantasy-writer and SF novelist Martin (A Clash of Kings, 1999, etc.) empties his trunk of four longer works, two of which should have remained there. Martin piles up the mea culpas in a series of autobiographical introductions about his ten-year Hollywood hogwallow, where he achieved some fame with a short-lived revival of the Twilight Zone series and a three-year run of Beauty and the Beast. In his introduction, he reveals that he came to Tinseltown for the money because, alas he couldn’t sell his proposed historical horror novel of scheming journalists chasing Jack the Ripper through gaslit Manhattan, Black and White and Red All Over, included here in an embarrassingly unfinished state. Among his failed Hollywood projects was Starport, an overlong, unproduced screenplay about a human detective among bickering aliens that is far worse than the Alien Nation TV series Martin labored not to imitate. Seeking respite in the horror genre, Martin dashed off Skin Trade, a genuinely scary werewolf novella that won a World Fantasy Award, and finally left Hollywood to work on what became his multivolume Song of Fire and Ice, a high-fantasy epic, a published installment of which, Blood of the Dragon, won a Hugo. Though Blood of the Dragon actually works better as a novella than inside the windy A Game of Thrones (1996), it isn’t strong enough to anchor the collection. Only Skin Trade, which originally appeared in Night Visions 5 (1988), deserves republication, but not with the other two misfires that, along with the annoyingly fawning introduction by Melinda Snodgrass, pad the book.
For fans only.