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Critique • Quotes • At the movies

First edition of Sandkings collectionFirst edition of story collection, 1981
By George R.R. Martin
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
1979 in Omni magazine

First book publication
1981 in Sandkings collection

Literature form

Science fiction, horror

Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 15,500 words

Notable lines

Simon Kress lived alone in a sprawling manor house among dry, rocky hills fifty kilometers from the city. So, when he was called away unexpectedly on business, he had no neighbors he could conveniently impose on to take his pets. The carrion hawk was no problem; it roosted in the unused belfry and customarily fed itself anyway. The shambler Kress simply shooed outside and left to fend for itself. The little monster would gorge on slugs and birds and rockjocks. But the fish tank, stocked with genuine Earth piranha, posed a difficulty. Finally Kress just threw a haunch of beef into the huge tank. The piranha could always eat one another if he were detained longer than expected. They'd done it before. It amused him.

— First lines

"I detest cute animals."


"Have you ever owned an animal that worshipped you!"


Finally he stopped feeding them.
Two days after the table scraps had ceased to fall from their desert sky, four black mobiles surrounded an orange and dragged it back to their maw. They maimed it first, ripping off its mandibles and antennae and limbs, and carried it through the shadowed main gate of their miniature castle. It never emerged. Within an hour more than forty orange mobiles marched across the sand and attacked the blacks' corner. They were outnumbered by the blacks that came rushing up from the depths. When the fighting was over, the attackers had been slaughtered. The dead and dying were taken down to feed the black maw.
Kress, delighted, congratulated himself on his genius.


As he fled, he was filled with a deep sense of contentment that coated his fear like a layer of syrup.


All of them had his face.

— Last line


Critique • Quotes • At the movies