by George R R. Martin


When Simon Kress returned to his home planet of Baldur from an offworld business trip, he was amused to find that his tank of Earth piranhas had cannibalized themselves into extinction, and of the two exotic animals that roamed his estate, only one remained. Now, in search of some new pets to satisfy his cruel pursuit of amusement, Simon finds a new shop in the city where he is intrigued by a new lifeform he has never heard of before … a collection of multi-colored sandkings. The curator explains that the insect-like animals, no larger than Simon’s fingernails, are not insects, but animals with a highly-evolved hive intelligence capable of staging wars between the different colors, and even religion–in the form of worship of their owner. The curator’s warning to Simon about the regularity of their feeding, unfortunately, was not taken seriously…. “Outer Limits” Episode, Hugo Award Winner, Locus Poll Award Winner, Nebula Award® Winner.

I did not make it through my projected reading list once again.  Who knew that searching for a new house would be so time consuming!  I will get to the books I listed earlier but for now I decided to share one of my favorite short stories to get you ready for next month.  October is my favorite month of the year and I am prepared to spend those 31 days sharing all things creepy, spooky, scary, haunted, and gloriously cheesy!  Be very excited folks!

Now for my review.  I first read Martin’s Sandkings in the Science Fiction Literature course I took during my undergrad.  I can still vividly remember how it felt after finishing the first time.  I found myself daydreaming about the story so I decided it deserved a re-read.  I couldn’t put it down again!

Sandkings is a science fiction short story that documents Simon Kress’ experiences with his new exotic pets, sandkings.  These alien creatures, described as semi-intelligent, are capable of religious devotion and conducting intricate battles between each other.  They are the perfect pets for Simon, or so he thinks.  I hung to every word, paralyzed as I was consumed by the consequences of Simon Kress’s decisions.  It is the only piece by Martin that I have read and I enthusiastically recommend Sandkings as Martin has mastered the art of projecting intensity through his writing.

And that is all the detail I’m giving you!  I don’t want to ruin all the glorious heebie jeebies awaiting you!  Pick it up!

Has anyone else read Sandkings? Let me know what you think!



7 thoughts on “Sandkings

  1. I first read SandKings in the early 80’s. To this day it is one of my favorite stories, though I was a bit disappointed in how the TV adaptation turned out. The creep factor is high and thoughts it provokes afterward are mind numbing. It is one of the reasons (Fevre Dream and the Monkey Treatment are others) that I became a huge GRRM fan long before anyone heard of Game of Thrones. 🙂 Nice post.

  2. Pingback: OCTOBER!! | sand between the pages

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