Most of us are aware of George RR Martin’s fantasy credentials but while you’re waiting for the next instalment from Westeros, why not familiarise yourself with his Science Fiction work?
‘Tuf Voyaging’ is a series of short stories involving trader Haviland Tuf, who finds himself in possession of an ecological engineering ship and decides to travel the universe in search of business.
Tuf is an interesting character, to call him a hero is a little generous. Misantrophic, with a touch of Aspergers, he eschews human or alien contact in favour of his ever-increasing number of cats. The man has an answer for everything and seems to revel in being a smart-arse that is above everyone else.
Aside from the opener, which details how Tuf came into possession of the ship, the stories usually concern our lead on a planet that has an ecological issue and he attempts to solve it before they try to con him out of money. Of course, he’s much too smart for them and always manages to outwit them in the end.
This may seem like a disservice to the collection but the joy is in the manner of how he outwits them and the dialogue between characters. Tuf’s demeanour can grate so the reactions of other characters help engage the reader.
There’s not too many stories collected but one stand-out is ‘Guardians’ which touches on some strong religious and environmental issues. Tuf’s interplay with the female lead of this story obviously works for Martin, as the characters are reunited in two more tales, in a logical and satisfying way.
This is a great collection and must-read for every Martin fan, especially those who have just been introduced to the author through the success of ‘Game Of Thrones’.
(pub: Gollancz. 435 page enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-12952-8)
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