Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"Tuf Voyaging" by George R.R. Martin

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Pick

This isn't your average novel and not only because it isn't written by your average novelist- Tuf Voyaging is a series of long short stories involving the same character as the hero, told in sequential order. I'm usually not the first reader on board with seemingly endless space adventures (especially if they don't seem to have a point to them), but with Tuf's travels, there are some common themes that do give this book a sort of elegance as well as an amiable conclusion. Though these are short stories, there are recurring characters other than Tuf and his feline faculty, so there is more to this book than simple space exploration and aid to troubled planets.

If you don't like cats, most of the fun of this book will be lost on you. There are many references to the various and sometimes mysterious ways that cats influence our lives. I think many people who have experience with the feline species will know what I'm talking about- cats may be lazy, playful, friendly, or standoffish, but they also have a part of their personality that is distinctly "cat", and Mr. Martin does a great job of embellishing that trait in this adventure.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Now back in print after almost ten years, Tuf Voyaging is the story of quirky and endearing Haviland Tuf, an unlikely hero just trying to do right by the galaxy, one planet at a time.
'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 a seedship, the last remnant 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 have the godlike ability to control the genetic material of 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.'

I love that this novel brings the joy of the summer sci-fi movies into book form. Sure, there's not really any beautiful heroines or handsome heroes, but there is a lot of fun to be had in this book- something I wasn't quite expecting, given the author's penchant for darkness. You can find gray morality in this book, but you can also find subtle humor and dialogue that had me highlighting as if my fingers were dipped in yellow. The author's prose boasts the same witticisms that made Tyrion Lannister everyone's favorite Lannister- just directed more toward the niche audience of the cat lovers.

I have to admit one thing- Haviland Tuf is a great problem solver. Somehow, in this book, though, he seemed to be a bit too predictable with his problem solving, and I knew what changes he would bring about from the moment he's confronted with the problem. That's a good thing, because it shows Mr. Martin's characters do make a lot of sense in what actions they take, but it also means Tuf was a bit too transparent to the reader from the very beginning. Tuf is a vegetarian, a feline lover, and also incredibly logical- those traits factor into all his choices in the book. If I had been a bit more surprised by those choices, it would've been a better read for me.

A little political humor for your pre-election pleasure:
"The blame lies entirely with me, sir," Tuf said when it happened. "I failed to remember that you are by training a bureaucrat, and thus good for virtually nothing."
            ~Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin, page 353 Kindle edition

Tuf Voyaging proves that every cat has a "touch of psi" (George was haunting me as I read it- likely he knew what I was reading). It deserves ludicrous amounts of praise from me, given it put a smile on my face and kept me reading even as I navigated a tough day of dealing with my various medical conundrums. At the same time, it was a tad too predictable, because Tuf was true to his character to the point of certain choices becoming inevitable. If you want a sci-fi without too much darkness and with plenty of cats, I recommend Tuf Voyaging for your reading consideration.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent sci-fi romp for the cat-savvy reader!

Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for lapses in freedoms, animal neglect/abuse, dangerous monsters who bring a touch of gore to this book, and even more dangerous sentient beings.

Page Count: 449 pages of feline fun


  1. This sounds like such a fun read. I hadn't heard of it before, so thank you for bringing it to my attention. I do love cats (in case you couldn't tell), and the idea that "this novel brings the joy of the summer sci-fi movies into book form," makes me think I might really like this one.

    1. It is a fun read! I only found it because it was a Kindle Daily Deal (last year, maybe) and it went into my stash of favorite authors' books until I couldn't resist it any longer. I did notice you like cats- wearing one in your profile picture kind of gives it away. ;) I went into this book thinking it would be a more serious sci-fi, but something about the cats and Tuf's constant quips kind of neutralized some of the gravity of the varied adventures.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. This sounds fabulous and a good way to introduce myself to R.R. Martin without a big commitment. Thanks for the review. I had not heard of this title before. :)

    1. Yeah- he didn't turn this one into a huge series. And it has the right amount of cats. ;) I didn't hear of this one prior to snatching it up as a Kindle Daily Deal, but I will buy almost anything written by George R.R. Martin at this point.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle

  3. This sounds like a fun read. I'm adding it to my wishlist :)

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you get it, Rachelle! In a weird way, it reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy because it has a lot of snide references in it.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
      ~Litha Nelle


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