“Sandkings” is a 1979 science fiction novelette by George R. R. Martin. It is about a rich man who enjoys exotic, alien pets – and finally comes across one species that is more than he can handle!
Do Ants Really Rule the World?
I’ll admit it – I am fascinated by insects… especially ants. All of my live I have enjoyed watching them and learning about them. However, I am ashamed to say, when I was younger my brother and I would get them riled up and force them to fight spiders and other things… such as firecrackers. I feel bad about that now, but while reading this story I couldn’t help thinking about all those ants from my childhood, and how they could pretty much handle anything we threw at them. Here is the story of an alien species that is even more adept than ants – and that’s a chilling prospect!
Simon Kress is a rich bachelor who lives in big house in the desert with his exotic pets. After some of them die he goes looking for something new and even more exotic. Enter Wo and Shade: importers of exotic lifeforms. They talk him into buying 4 tribes of strange, insect like warriors. Simon likes that idea and so purchases the Sandkings and invites his friends over to watch and bet on their wars. But Simon gets a little bit too cocky, and mean, and after an unfortunate accident he begins to realize that the Sandkings are too much of a match for him – and possibly maybe anybody!
Some Interesting Tidbits
- Word count: 15,427 (15 pages)
- You probably know George Raymond Richard Martin from his hugely popular fantasy series: Song Of Ice and Fire, but did you also know that in 2011 Time magazine selected him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world? Yep. You can learn more about Mr. Martin on Wikipedia.
- Wow – this story was a magnet for SF awards! It won the 1980 Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Locus Poll Award for best novelette, and was also nominated for the 1980 Balrog Award for best short fiction!
Where To Find Sandkings
- This short story was first published in the August 1979 edition of Omni magazine.
- You can read a pdf copy of “Sandkings” online for free at the My Name is Legion web site.
- It is also included in the awesome collection Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you liked “Sandkings” then you’ll probably enjoy “…For a Single Yesterday” also by George R. R. Martin – about a musician in a post-apocalyptic commune who uses a powerful drug to re-live the past.