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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2014
Tuf Voyaging follows a man named Haviland Tuf as he journeys through space in a space ship. Also, he has cats, lots of cats. In space. Space cats!

I purchased this book as an introduction to George R R Martin's work. I plan to read the existing Game of Thrones books soon, maybe over the summer, but I wanted to make sure I liked the writing style before I commit to it. It would be a hell of a slog if I didn't. This is one of his early works, a collection of short stories in their own right but they are linked in a way that makes them feel like they could be chapters instead of discrete stories.

The book takes us through some of Tuf's adventures. First as an honest space trader and later as a self taught ecological engineer after he comes into possession of an ancient seedship. Using the seedship, Tuf attempts to solve the problems of various worlds by cloning creatures and lifeforms from the ships enormous genetic catalogue. Most of the problems have roots in the failings of humanity and Tuf turns to increasingly more "godlike" solutions to these problems. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Tuf is a very literal man, which leads to some witty dialogue between him and the few other characters who find this unsettling, even more so after Tuf engineers himself a breed of psionic cat.

I enjoyed this book. The writing style was good, the main environments were richly described. The main characters were well fleshed out so you got a feel for their personalities, the minor characters, in some cases, felt they were just there to further the plot. It was a reasonably fast paced, sci fi, space opera of a book and a very enjoyable read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2014
Rather than a full novel this is a collection of short stories published around the late seventies, early eighties that have been cobbled together. They are concerned with the exploits of unexpected hero Haviland Tuf after he seems by default to adopt the Ark, a gigantic space cruiser capable of altering the ecosystems of a planet. This collection of novellas relates Tuf’s journeys across the universe solving various planets’ environmental disasters, accompanied only by his collection of cats.

The writing has a whimsical tone in an almost Wodehouse style and some minor comparisons can possibly be drawn with ‘Red Dwarf’. Although not laugh out loud comedic, there is a subtle sense of amusement throughout that is likely to keep the reader entertained. Much of the content appears to be subtly and cleverly mocking politics, religion and big business.

Fans of ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ can expect the same quality but not the wealth of characters. There are few significant characters and only a couple of recurring ones. The emphasis is more about Tuf and how he uses wit and intelligence to solve the problems his clients face.

Haviland Tuf himself is a strange but somewhat endearing character. He is far removed from what the usual expectations of what a science fiction hero should be and this, coupled with the fact that he reveals little about himself, makes him a very intriguing individual. He certainly has some sort of appeal and charm that always puts the reader on his side. There is also something of Jeeves about the way he politely schemes and manipulates people.

With the huge success of ‘Game of Thrones’ rumours of a possible television programme based around Tuf’s exploits seem to be doing the rounds. As yet they are unsubstantiated. How much they would be based around this book if it ever happened are unknown.
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To be honest I've been a huge fan of George's writing for quite some time and whilst it always feel like an indeterminable wait for the next title in the Fire and Ice series, I've been lucky enough to grab some of his back catalogue tales to read when I've needed my GRRM fix.

Here in this very early release is a set of short stories that will not only keep the reader glued as George's magic winds its way into your imagination. The prose is sharp, the pace delightful and when added with a whole set of stories that you can dip into for any journey or lunch break , may well be the book that saves your sanity during the work day slog.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2014
This book starts with a borrowed scenario that I struggled to place, then I remembered a story about a mothballed spaceship, by Harry Harrison, I think. So, our titular hero, after surviving the ship's attempts to kill him (he's the sole survivor of a boarding party), gets to 'own' a relic from another era, with a technology almost lost in legend. What does he do with it? He uses the machine's abilities to solve a series of planetary sized problems in a largely benevolent fashion. It's unconvincing overall, a read to pass the time, interesting as a piece of the writer's development and certainly not what those coming to it from A Game of Thrones might expect. But that's all.
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on 28 September 2014
GRREAT!
Inventive. imaginative, entertaining, thought provoking and beautifully written, with great characters and eccentric dialogue. The chapters were originally separate short stories but work really well together to form a complete novel featuring our hero, the amazing Haviland Tuff in a range of fantastical adventures. I read this in just over a day and was left desperately wishing there were more in a similar vein.
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on 2 August 2013
Whilst not a fan of a lot of Science Fiction/Fantasy books, I took a punt on this one based on how good Game of Thrones was..after an unsure beginning, the character of Tuf emerged and the whole makes for a delightful and different aspect to Mr Martin.

Worth a look for anyone who enjoys a little humour mixed with something different.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2013
Prior to reading this, I had only seen author George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones on television. This is the first book by him I have read, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. His reputation as the new Tolkien and all the other epithets are thoroughly deserved, the man can write!

What I enjoyed here was the central character of Haviland Tuf. He is a large, bald, portly man, fond of cats and mistrusting of humans. Rather than being the archetypal lantern-jawed, barrel-chested superman often found in sci-fi, Tuf is someone who relies on his cunning and ingenuity. He is also a decent man in a universe of greedy and ignorant people with no scruples or morals.

Martin is the master at dialogue and interaction. The way his characters speak, their motives and their humour all ring true. If you are expecting lots of fighting and lasers, don't read this. Tuf Voyaging is about philanthropy and ecological problem solving on a galactic scale.

Tuf must navigate his way safely through an exotic, yet hostile universe, imparting his wisdom and benevolence in the face of jealousy and self-serving contemporaries. His vessel, the Ark, has huge potential and awesome power, yet Tuf uses it for the universal good (whilst turning a neat personal profit, he has his origins as a trader after all).

Martin relishes in exposing the corrupt and selfish aspects of human nature, there is plenty of dry wit and humour in evidence as he puts his microscope up to his characters.

Some readers may find Tuf a little superior and aloof, manipulative and distant even, but I enjoyed his ability to see through and outwit the avarice he encounters on his journey. This is enjoyable and original sci-fi and I can see why Martin is so respected. Now for those other books he has written...
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on 18 May 2015
Brilliant, it is well worth looking beyond Song of Ice and Fire for George Martin (also highly recommend Fevre Dream!). Havilland Tuf is such a great main character, love the way he just meanders through the stories whilst all hell is breaking our around him. Really recommend this book.
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on 19 July 2015
It's nice having a book broken down the way this is.
Brilliant main character with all the stories bringing amazing ideas and thoughts to original and unique situations.
Must read for anyone looking for an easy to read but well put together Sci-fi
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on 25 April 2014
This is clearly an early bit of work and is very similar to Blakes 7 - intergalactic dodgy dealer Tuff gains access to a super powerful spaceship and embarks on a series of adventures.

It's entertaining if a little bit clunky in parts.
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