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Tuf Voyaging (1986)

by George R. R. Martin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1283115,164 (3.89)25
"Haviland Tuf is an honest space-trader who likes cats. So how is it that, in competition with the worst villains the universe has to offer, he's become the proud owner of the last seedship of Earth's legendary Ecological Engineering Corps? Never mind, just be thankful that the most powerful weapon in human space is in good hands--hands which now control cellular material for thousands of outlandish creatures. Armed with this unique equipment, Tuf is set to tackle the problems that human settlers have created in colonizing far-flung worlds: hosts of hostile monsters, a population hooked on procreation, a dictator who unleashes plagues to get his own way...and in every case, the only thing that stands between the colonists and disaster is Tuf's ingenuity--and his reputation as a man of integrity in a universe of rogues."--from cover, p. [4]… (more)
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English (29)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
In the 1970’s and 80’s, long before he wrote the Song of Ice and Fire books, George R.R. Martin was writing science fiction. He wrote particularly excellent short fiction, which garnered him a handful of awards, including Hugos for “Sandkings”, “The Way of Cross and Dragon”, and “A Song for Lya”. Tuf Voyaging is a fix-up novel containing stories he wrote during this period starring a man named Haviland Tuf.

In the first story, Tuf is the captain of a trading spaceship he calls the Cornucopia of Excellent Goods at Low Prices. He’s not a great trader, but he’s earnest. He takes on four people that hire him for transport to a “plague star”, which contains a planet that has been ravaged by disease. The cause of the disease is found when Cornucopia of Excellent Goods at Low Prices is damaged after triggering a seedship’s defenses: a seedship of the Ecological Engineering Corp from the Federal Empire, an ancient polity that has since faded into myth.

Through a crazy series of events that involve a Tyrannosaurus rex, Tuf ends up in sole possession of the massive seedship he calls the Ark. He parks the Cornucopia of Excellent Goods at Low Prices in one of the bays and starts using the ship’s stunning biological capabilities to make a living as an Ecological Engineer. With his cats, Tuf flies from world to world solving ecological problems.
Things, of course, are not that simple.

The major appeal of Tuf Voyaging is the character of Haviland Tuf. He’s a man of many words, delivered in a dry yet eloquent way that never gets old. At times the reader thinks Tuf may not be perceiving what is happening around him. It’s always a delight to find out that he understands perfectly.

The book is also thoughtful. Many of the ecological problems that Tuf is called on to solve have a human element to them. On a planet called S’uthlam, for example, Tuf argues that overpopulation is going to prevent any solutions, which spurs a debate about religious beliefs vs. ecology. On another world, treatment of animals is a topic. Martin brings these things up in this book without being preachy.

This book contains the following stories:
“The Plague Star” (1985)
“Loaves and Fishes” (1985)
“Guardians” (1981)
“Second Helpings” (1985)
“A Beast for Norn” (1976)
“Call Him Moses” (1978)
“Manna From Heaven” (1985)
1 vote SDanielson | Sep 5, 2022 |
A solid mosaic novel made out of seven short stories Martin wrote about Haviland Tuf in the 1970s and 1980s. Three of the seven form one longer narrative, and a fourth is Tuf's origin story (of sort), which together manage to make this book feel more like a novel and less like a loosely collected anthology than I expected it to.

We follow Haviland Tuf -- a bit of an intentional cypher to all the people he encounters, but not that difficult to understand (and, at least for me, like) for the reader. Tuf ends up in possession of a vastly powerful antique cloning chip, with which he decides to travel through space (joined only by his beloved cats) and offer biological engineering services to any planet that might need it. Tuf's disaffected manner, verbose patterns of speech, odd looks and particular combination of obvious misanthropy and deep empathy all serve to make him a highly unusual protagonist, but, I think, a very enjoyable one. It is (intentionally, I think) unclear to what extent he's prepared for every eventuality (though he's certainly prepared for many) and to what extent he trusts his mind to figure things out as he goes along, but in every story in this book, Tuf's little schemes bear satisfying fruit. And as they do, Tuf himself slowly might be changing -- subtly, considering his intentionally hard-to-read personality -- as Martin explores what ultimate power does to a person, even one as collected and self-assured as Tuf. Or perhaps he does not change at all. And both conclusions, whichever way I chose to interpret it, were equally powerful in my read.

'Tuf Voyaging' is an easy read, soft science fiction with an obvious satirical angle on the various societies and communities Tuf visits (and, in his own mind at least, helps), and what depth and realism there is might suffer slightly from the frequently convenient facts that tend to play to Tuf's advantage. But Martin is pretty good at making these palatable. And should he somehow ever find the time in his career to revisit Tuf (as I know he has mentioned over the years wishing to do), I will happily buy and read it. ( )
  Lucky-Loki | Jul 28, 2022 |
DNF.
Haviland Tuf & his ship are hired to take a group of misfits to a planet that suffers incurable plagues every 3 generations from a remnant war ship cum super-biological weapon left over from the last galactic war--several thousand years ago. The plot theme is filled with potential, but dumbed down enough for the YA target audience. All the other reviewers of this book are correct in their criticisms and plaudits:
• Tuf evokes no sympathy, the story indulges in too many deus ex machina endings and the story plots, of what little I read, avoid any gripping action; ignoring Tuf the other characters—who aren’t outright idiots/evil—usually have more depth.
• The story lines are easy to read/understand, Tuf is just obnoxious enough to titillate the average teenager and the action tends to be short and sweet.

In general, I’m giving this book 3-stars for the YA readers who, I believe, will really enjoy it. If you want a more mature read (i.e. with “more meat”), this is not it.

As a side note, something that really bothers me about Martin is his penchant for finding extremely gruesome ways to kill people. In fact, the primary reason I read this book was to see what other “tools” he had in his workshop—but this one hearkens back to the first story I read by him, ‘Sandkings’. The only saving grace these stories have is that these deaths, while fairly gory, are not dwelled on so dramatically and tediously as in ‘Sandkings’. ( )
  majackson | Dec 30, 2021 |
Yeah, sure.
  misslevel | Dec 22, 2021 |
Alas, the cats were not enough to outweigh the unpleasant people, situations, and affected pontification. ( )
  VictoriaGaile | Oct 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Witty and satirical, Tuf Voyaging is an entertaining sidestep from Martin's more serious work.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George R. R. Martinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aulisio, JanetIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chichoni, OscarCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Komarck, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murphy, KevinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robert, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soler, AlbertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Roger & Judy Zelazny,
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Hello? Hello? Yes, I see it works. Good.
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"Haviland Tuf is an honest space-trader who likes cats. So how is it that, in competition with the worst villains the universe has to offer, he's become the proud owner of the last seedship of Earth's legendary Ecological Engineering Corps? Never mind, just be thankful that the most powerful weapon in human space is in good hands--hands which now control cellular material for thousands of outlandish creatures. Armed with this unique equipment, Tuf is set to tackle the problems that human settlers have created in colonizing far-flung worlds: hosts of hostile monsters, a population hooked on procreation, a dictator who unleashes plagues to get his own way...and in every case, the only thing that stands between the colonists and disaster is Tuf's ingenuity--and his reputation as a man of integrity in a universe of rogues."--from cover, p. [4]

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