Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin’s overnight success has been a long time coming. Before turning to fantasy with A Game of Thrones he had (and continues to have) a long and distinguished career as a science fiction writer.
This collection of linked novelettes and novellas, most of which were originally published in science fiction magazine ‘Analog’ between 1976 and 1985, follows the adventures of space trader Haviland Tuf and his many cats as he offers his services as an ecological engineer to anyone willing to pay.
Following Tuf’s acquisition and refurbishment of the Ark, a derelict seedship of the long-defunct Ecological Engineering Corp (capable of cloning thousands of plants and animals from its cell culture library and raining down devastation on planets via biological warfare, if required) he embarks on a series of missions to help solve ecological problems on various planets, ranging from combating sea-monsters to exposing false prophets and fighting overpopulation.
In Haviland Tuf, the author gives us a well-written, highly likeable character, who the reader always finds themselves rooting for through his many travails. Who cannot help but like a two and a half metre tall, hairless, vegetarian cat-lover, even if he does threaten genocide every now and then?
Just about every story in this collection is one you will not want to leave once started. They are all real page-turners and all are short enough to finish in one sitting. The writing flows smoothly and transparently, allowing the reader to concentrate on the story without having to constantly re-read various passages to understand what is going on — always the sign of an excellent wordsmith.
If your only exposure to GRRM is through watching Game of Thrones on TV, read this collection and discover another side of the author’s talents.
Highly recommended for vegetarians and cat-lovers everywhere.