Friday, April 3, 2015

Tuf Voyaging

At some point last year I decided that I wanted to explore the works of author George R.R. Martin. Having thoroughly enjoyed all of the different entries in his A Song of Ice and Fire series (also known as his Game of Thrones books), I began to work my way through some of his other stuff. My most recent read was the enjoyable science fiction romp entitled Tuf Voyaging. The story begins in a world plagued by cycles of disease and death in a remote world near the edge of the galaxy. Ultimately we learn that these cycles are caused by a long-lost Earth "seed ship" designed for ecological warfare on a planetary scale. The regime that built and launched these ships had been overthrown a millenium ago and the ships were lost in time. However, a group of small-time salvagers discovered the last of these ships and made to stake their claim. Deperate for transportation to the distant ship, they hired a trader, one Havilund Tuf, to take them on his small cargo ship, the Cornucopia of Excellent Goods at Low Prices. After the salvagers turn against one another, Tuf is left to claim the prize of the awesome might that is the seed ship.

Tuf is a very interesting character. Part fop, part eccentric, part garish clown, part shrewd businessman. Just when you think that he might be played for a sucker or taken advantage of, he always seems to have another card to play to remain in control. In this story Tuf and his feline companions travel from world to world using the power of the immense and glorious ship that he calls the "Ark" to help the ever odd-ball and wacky leaders that he comes across. Most of them are so blind to the problems of their worlds that they are ripe for Tuf to both bless them and curse them at the same time. The way that Tuf plays them is quite delicious fodder. A story that was engaging, playful, and quite unlike any of the stories that I have read from Martin. Highly recommended.