George R. R. Martin is best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, but he’s no one trick pony. The guy’s been publishing for decades, and working in a variety of genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, dark humor, romantic vampire fiction, you name it. For die-hard Martin enthusiasts, I recommend checking out Dreamsongs I and II, which offer a fascinating view of his evolution as a writer through the years.
Even for people who are not rabid Martin fans, I still highly recommend Tuf Voyaging. Originally published in 2004, Tuf Voyaging is a collection of short stories about the eponymous Haviland Tuf: a bit of an odd duck of a human who spends his time jetting around the galaxy in his giant ark of a spaceship, looking for ecological crises to solve. The genre here is sci-fi, but it’s definitely a soft, semi-humorous take on the genre. Most of the advanced technology is contained within Tuf’s extremely capable spaceship, which acts much like Dr. Who’s sonic screwdriver (that is to say, it does whatever the author needs it to). If you’re keen on highly technical, rigorous sci-fi, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
For the rest of us, however, there’s still quite a bit here to like. GRRM is a wildly talented storyteller, and Tuf is a compelling, if emotionally distant, protagonist. Each short story zips merrily along, and I was surprised to find that the book was over 400 pages (it felt much shorter). There’s a certain attractive escapism that comes with imagining that an individual with a semi-magical ship could suddenly arrive in our atmosphere and propose to solve our ecological woes. Especially in our current political doldrums, it can be nice to imagine that there’s someone else out there that can save us from ourselves.
So help us out here, Tuf!
Rating: 3 – Highly Recommend