If you enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire and are interested in some of George R.R. Martin’s early writing, check out the YouTube video A Guide to George R.R. Martin’s Thousand Worlds by Preston Jacobs. The Thousand Worlds is an informal title given to Martin’s collection of twenty-four science fiction short stories. Most were written in the 1970s and 80s. This collection also includes The Hero, his first professionally published work, which appeared in Galaxy magazine in 1971.
The stories take place in a universe where humanity has settled numerous planets, thus forming the Federal Empire. The Empire was surrounded on both sides by two different alien factions. The humans went to war with both alien empires at once, dubbed The Double War. The war lasted 1000 years and essentially destroyed all three empires. The title The Thousand Worlds is a reference to the leftovers of this intergalactic melee. Afterwards, only a few planets regained their ability for spaceflight while the rest remained in the dark ages. Jacobs theorizes that Martin’s other stories, including ASOIAF could take place on the planets in this universe.
Many of the stories contain themes seen throughout his other books including war, religious persecution, and civilization building. Jacobs also says that you can learn a lot about the Ice and Fire universe by reading The Thousand Worlds. A few of the obvious seeming ASOIAF references that may be borrowed from those tales include a religion that worships the Pale Child, a character who goes into hiding in The Veil, and names such as Robb, Lyanna, and Erika Stormjones.
The stories are difficult to find because many of them are out of print but Jacobs provides links to each one along with the video. Altogether, these works are about as lengthy as one A Song of Ice and Fire novel.
If you decide to check out any of The Thousand Worlds stories, Jacobs will also be posting a corresponding video for each one. If you’re looking for a story to start with you may want to choose A Song for Lya or Sandkings. They’re regarded as two of Martin’s best offerings of the series. This seems an accurate assessment because Sandkings is the only one of Martin’s books to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy. A Song for Lya also won a Hugo award for best novella.
Alternatively, if you’re not a huge science fiction buff check out Jacob’s extensive collection of ASOIAF focused videos. He does a great job of pulling together tons of different threads on a single topic. Some of my favorites include Littlefinger’s Mistake, The Dornish Masterplan, and Dreams of a Red Door, which suggests that Dany’s childhood memories of Braavos may not be accurate.