The Stone City (1977) by George R. R. Martin

One of the stronger “Thousands Worlds” short stories. The worldbuilding is really strong here; Martin builds up a very strong sense of place and implied history very effectively.

It’s an eerie, Lovecraftian story, quiet and lowkey where many of the other stories in the series are more bombastic, leaning heavier on genre crutches.

As always with Martin, the characterisation is excellent here. The protagonist’s realisations about “collecting” memories and experiences through travelling rather than really having fulfilling experiences for their own right felt like a very real, honest, and relatable revelation.

The ending is fascinating, almost uncharacteristically abstract for Martin.

Certainly one of the better “Thousand Worlds” short stories. I give it four maps, and a crossworld.

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