The Sandkings Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Sandkings

One of the best sf short stories I have read, ex-college jounalism instructor George R.R. Martin proves with 'The Sandkings' that teachers of writing can do as well as teach. He won the Nebula Best Novelette of 1979 with this work, and it has been anthologised by sf doyen Frank Herbert (Nebula Winners 15). A powerful tale, it has been admired by top writers in the genre for its effectiveness and economical technique.
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This dark morality play has an unfortunate main character who has neglected to feed his alien pet menagerie. They starve to death. Only the puppy-eating vulture-like shambler survives, as he rather profits by this sad process. So our man needs a replacement, something unusual, something, well...special. He buys a set of four nests of alien insects, a sort of beetle-ant. They are indeed entertaining: naturally warlike and just barely psionically hive-mind aware. In short, they know who feeds them and worship that being in their own humble but unique way. Unwisely, he encourages their already natural warring nature. The nature of the outcome is predictable but the actuality is a most horrible shock.
The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose

Chapter Analysis of The Sandkings

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Plot & Themes

Inner Struggle    -   Yes Story involving clones/duplicates?    -   bad clones/duplicates Kind of alteration:    -   exotic/alien torture for major character Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Clones    -   Yes Cultural problems, alien culture    -   Yes Culture clash-    -   one culture tries to impose its culture on another group

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   small businessman Age:    -   40's-50's Really unusual traits?    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


Terrain    -   Desert A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a futuristic society    -   inhabited by friendly aliens    -   unfriendly aliens    -   neutral aliens Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   some scientific explanation How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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George R.R. Martin Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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