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Download Tuf Voyaging epub

by George R. R. Martin

Download Tuf Voyaging epub
ISBN: 1592220169
ISBN13: 978-1592220168
Category: Fantasy
Subcategory: Science Fiction
Author: George R. R. Martin
Language: English
Publisher: Meisha Merlin Pub (P); Limited edition (January 2004)
ePUB size: 1659 kb
FB2 size: 1506 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 270
Other Formats: rtf mobi lrf doc

TUF VOYAGING collects seven short stories centered around Haviland Tuf and his adventures traveling the galaxy as an ecological engineer. Tuf is a strange man by anyone’s standards, not your typical hero. Intelligent, educated, and serious, Tuf is the sort that says what he means and means what he says. He is also notably unsocial, seeming to suffer from a particularly potent case of Asperger syndrome, and definitely preferring the company of this cats to that of other humans. Most disturbing of all though, is his complete confidence in himself and his apparent disdain for the views of others. As these stories progress, Tuf begins to develop a god-complex, showing an amazing conceit as he travels the cosmos conducting ecology-changing experiments, often covertly or against his customers’ wishes. Still, he is the lone protagonist in these stories, and readers can’t help but cheer for this unlikeable man.
The first and longest of the short stories in the collection is “The Plague Star”, where we are introduced to the Ark, a 1000-year-old warship of Old Earth with immense powers to conduct biological warfare and ecological engineering. Haviland Tuf travels with a motley crew of would-be exploiters to take control of this invaluable relic. His companions in this endeavor are Rica Dawnstar, Celise Waan, Kaj Nevis, Jefri Lion, and Anittas, a well-developed group of interesting characters who end up double-crossing one another to gain ownership of their discovery. In the end, only Tuf survives and takes sole control of the Ark, setting the stage for the rest of the stories here.
In “Loaves and Fishes”, Tuf bring the Ark to the planet of S’uthlam, where he solicits repairs to his long-neglected ship. When the powers-that-be realize the power of the Ark and its potential to help S’uthlam with its overpopulation problem, they conspire take control of the ship. Despite this, Tuf conducts a little ecological engineering to stave off an imminent lack of food before making his escape.
In “Guardians”, Tuf is asked to help save the world of Namor from a horrible proliferation of monsters that is threatening their civilization. Monster that seem to be rapidly evolving to defeat the impressive technology of the humans are emerging from the sea. Tuf is at first perplexed, but eventually realizes he is up against a sentient race, not mindless monsters. He helps arrange a truce between the people of Namor and this misunderstood race they were battling, thus saving the day. This is perhaps the only example of Tuf using his powers for an unqualified good. Here we are introduced to another key character, the psionic cat, Dax.
Tuf ends up returning to S’uthlam in “Second Helpings”, where he finds that overpopulation once again threatens the planet. Tuf also finds that he has himself become somewhat of a cultural icon as the story of his first visit to the planet was made into a box office hit. Wishing to repay his debt to S’uthlam for repairing the Ark, Tuf instead finds himself threatened with seizure and forced to discover a solution to the coming food shortages. Again Tuf works his miracles, this time providing S’uthlam with less-than-desirable, but near-inexhaustible food sources.
“A Beast for Norn” is perhaps my favorite of the stories in the collection. Here, Tuf is recruited to provide fearsome monsters that will help a ruling family earn prestige on a world where pit-fighting animals is the custom for determining political pecking order. Tuf obliges, but sneakily works in some ecological engineering to change the planet’s environment so as not to support the types of beasts suited for pit fighting. This story provides the most glaring example of Tuf’s growing conceit. His solution to stop what he views as a barbaric practice is to transform a planet’s ecology, against the will of the planet’s inhabitants shows Tuf’s god-complex.
In a rather strange story called “Call Him Moses”, Tuf encounters an anti-technology cult that has been based on a false prophet and his false signs. Tuf responds with his own set of “plagues”, using his powers as an ecological engineer to prevent the radical cult from taking over a world.
Finally, in “Manna From Heaven”, Tuf returns to S’uthlam, this time as a prisoner of the powerful S’uthlamese military, who are determined to claim the Ark and use it to help their once-again-near-starvation world. Tuf realizes that the likely outcome of S’uthlam controlling the Ark would be for them to use it against their neighbors to aquire more habitable planets. He is able to convene a treaty summit with leaders from these other planets and wagers that he will be able to once and for all solve S’uthlam’s overpopulation problem. This time his engineered food source, addictive and abundant, also contains chemical birth control. Here we see another example of Tuf’s willingness to perpetrate his radical solutions on entire peoples without their consent.
George RR Martin is no doubt one of the most imaginative and talented authors of our time. TUF VOYAGING is a fine example of his lighter fare. This is thought-provoking, enjoyable, and easy reading. Nothing dark, nothing serious, just fun.
The author has read Malthus and his math of population growth. He understands the "J" curve. He understands the temporary character of technological fixes. Genetic engineering and its role in ecological war making seems appropriate to current concerns. Martin, like Herbert, author of the DUNE cycle of stories and Sci Fi Master Heinlein of "Door Into Summer," understands relations between ecology and religion. All of these authors present population control as a "can of worms," where all of them are toxic. Whose DNA shall go forward and whose shall not? Orson Scott Card's ENDER series uses an alien formic species based on Earthly fire ant behavior to address population relations to resource bases. There seems a nearly inexhaustible interest in ways science fiction addresses social, economic and political intersections of human procreation in a context of super-cats or mega-ants. Even techno-thriller author Clive Cussler addresses population issues in geopolitical context in one of his "Oregon Files" books, "Plague Ship." It seems to me that Cussler slips into the fuzzily defined genre of Sci Fi with imagined technologies, in this case the "Stalin's Fist" episode. Let us not exclude Tribbles from Star Trek from consideration!

What is missing from "Tuf Voyaging" is a mention of demographic transitions in population dynamics. Perhaps that was intentional. In any case, J. R. R. Martin is a skilled writer with an understandable contempt for the "burrow-crat" species of bureaucrat. He presents human failings with ironic humor, possibly hoping some of us will laugh at ourselves as we try to make new errors while abandoning older flubs.

Martin's "Game of Thrones" series could be seen as an extension of many themes in "Tuf Voyaging." Questing for power with control of resources as an embedded agenda is arguably a favorite human sport. Perhaps this deadly sport is so fascinating because it attracts the corruptible souls among us. In any case, there are likely years of reading in the books mentioned here. If you are familiar with any or all of the authors mentioned here, why not rediscover Haviland Tuf, Tolly Mune and their cats? Or enjoy roller rams, walking webs, blood frogs, hell kittens, meat beasts, a psionically controlled T. Rex and assorted plagues. For foodies, there are a plethora of mushroom dishes and even real onion pie . . .
I have never read much by George R. R. Martin. Years ago I enjoyed the WILD CARDS series that he edited, but he did not write many of the stories, and I read the first of the GAME OF THRONES series, which I liked quite well, but didn't want to devote enough of my time to reading a fantasy series to read more of them. While TUF VOAGING isn't exactly hard science fiction, it was not, as I was expecting, swashbuckling science fantasy. There was no sex, nor even romance, and the violence was all second hand accounting. These stories concerned a nice, gentle, but also stern, trader who came into possession of great power, and of how he cleverly used that power to solve various problems that existed on worlds he traveled to. If the science is sometimes far fetched, it is, perhaps, not ridiculously so. These are among the most enjoyable, intelligent science fictions stories I've ever read.
I read one of the Tuf short stories in the early 80s in one of my father's Analog Magazines. Recently, I remembered the story and wanted to read it again. I had no idea that George R.R. Martin wrote it, or that there were more stories featuring the same central character, but, thanks to the Internet, the book was easy to find. While the story hasn't exactly stood the test of time (there are plenty of moments when the representations of future technology seem silly) plenty of it is still enjoyable. It is light reading and totally worth my money.