Here we are with another early edition of a George R.R. Martin story that blurs the edges of warfare and who has the upper hand… until a programming error creates a tactical blunder.
The autotanks in this story are rather akin to the ‘power wagons‘ of And Seven Times Never Kill Man, which are truly just dragons in fantasy-land. This tactical blunder brings to mind just how closely Aegon VI will head Tyrion’s Cyvasse advice while in Westeros, and if Tyrion truly was setting Aegon up to fail.
The “Littlefinger” archetype even makes an appearance here… dang it! And there are even a few refrences to the cold “circulating” in the huge room, which when you read the whole scene, it reminds one of Winterfell and the circulating water in the walls like a body. And the way Eddard Stark “melts” when the ice-man gets to the hot King’s Landing.Bran sitting on the dais during the Autumn festival watching Old Nan break crust is somehow taking on new meaning. As is the idea that a god is “overriding” Theon as he walks to the Weirwood trees, and so much more.
I have to say that there is a lot here that makes me believe Cantuse’s Night Lamp theory is practically canon at this point. If you are not familiar with the Theon sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, it is here for you to read.
My fave detail is that the sun is bluewhite… hmmm, a blue-white sun?
If you want to catch up on the other GRRM stories that I have transcribed, take your pick… more will follow:
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark (good stuff here)
- A Night at the Tarn House
- The Needle Men
- Black and White and Red All over
- Noted excerpt of Fire & Blood: Alysanne in the north
The Computer Cried Charge!
George R.R. Martin
THE AUTOTANKS drove across the hellplain in a double column of fifty, towards the distant mountains where the enemy lay in wait.
Ugly was the word for the autotanks. Low, hunched shapes of battledark duralloy, they crawled on woven metal treads over ground that would have melted anything else. Screechgun mounts and the snouts of lasercannon broke their unpleasant symmetry.
Even the dull sheen of their armor was gone, hidden by the thick black heatgrease that oozed from within, shielding them until it cooked and cracked and was covered by a fresh layer.
Beneath the hardened grease: a foot of metal, then a tangled web of weaponry and circuits and motors and computers. Beneath that; the deep-buried synthabrain, fist-sized mind of the autotank. Within that: the programmed mentality of a bloodthirsty moron…
All writing credit goes to George R.R. Martin. Inside panel illustrations credit goes to Tony Gleeson. Cover artist Stephen E. Fabian. This story is being transcribed from the January 1976 edition of Amazing Science Fiction.
Thank you for following along to the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!