George R.R. Martin is famous for two things: First, for starting A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantasy series that became the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Second, for not bothering to finish A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantasy series that has been left in the dust by HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Thanks to Thrones, Martin has become synonymous with drawn-out, hyper-detailed fantasy. But before anyone had heard of Arya or Tyrion, Martin was cranking out stories for the sci-fi pulps of the ’70s like Analog and Fantastic. In many ways, these old-school stories—short and sharp, weird and melancholy—couldn’t be more different from A Song of Ice and Fire. And in many ways, they’re Martin’s best work.