Override is a science-fiction horror novelette by George R. R. Martin, first published in the September 1973 issue of Analong Science Fiction and Fact. It takes place in the "Thousand Worlds" universe, and is set on the Fyndii Space planet of Grotto. It is about a corpse-handler (someone who re-animates human corpses to perform manual labour) mining stones on a lush planet, when a rich investor threatens shut down the mines. Override forms part of Martin's "corpse-hander trilogy," along with Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg and Meathouse Man.
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Override depicts the power that the ruling class wields over the working class. It uses corpse-handling as a metaphor for this power relation, as well as an example of how one can break free of control. The story shows how the wealthy people who enjoy the profits and goods that the corpse-handlers produce, such as Lowell Barting, despise the corpse-handlers themselves. While the reader may find the act of corpse-handling revolting, Martin encourages us to root for corpse-handlers, since the management behave even more revoltingly in their abuse of power.
Martin notes that Override wasn't nominated for any awards, and regards it as a "fumbling" attempt at horror.
Override forms part of Martin's "corpse-hander trilogy," along with Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg and Meathouse Man. He had originally intended to write many more instalments, and even had a four-page fragment of a fourth story, but never got around to completing it. He intended to combine them into a single book called Songs the Dead Men Sing, but when he did use that title for a collection, only Meathouse Man was included.
Override was first published in the September 1973 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
It was included in Martin's short story collections A Song for Lya and Other Stories, published in 1976, and Nighflyers and Other Stories, published in 1985.
Connections to the "Thousand Worlds" Universe
Override is set on a "corpse world," where it is legal to reanimate human corpses for labour. Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg and Meathouse Man also both take place on corpse worlds and focus on characters working within that industry.
Allusions to Other GRRM Works
Allusions to Other Media