(1986 / 2013) George R. R. Martin, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, 435pp, ISBN 978-0-575-12952-8
A group sets out to find a legendary bio-engineering and cloning spaceship , The Ark, that can create or remake animals and plant, They hire trader Haviland Truf to transport them in his ship the 'Cornucopia of Excellent Goods at Low Prices'. The group finds the ship and then attempts to double cross each other, while Tuf tries to clone a deceased cat. Through the rule of winding up the last one standing, Tuf inherits the Ark and decides to use this new assist to arrange deals with other planets.
The biggest arc in this anthology of linked stories concerns Tuf’s vists to the planet S'uthlam, suffering from an urge to re-enact the novel Make Room, Make Room. As Tuf revists that planet , he faces changes in how he is perceived and in his professional relationship with Tolly Mune, the master of the space port of S'uthlam. The other stories deal with Tuf's attempts to solve problems on other planets arising out of nature or society. The best story for me, was 'Call me Moses' in which Tuf comes up a self-appointed prophet.
I felt that this had a retro feeling about it. This is not because this title originally came out in 1986, as a collection of previously published stories. The technology mentioned has not dated. Instead it is the use of the narrative of the wander who goes into a new place, fixes it and then leaves. This used to be a common format for series, but it seems to have become rarer with time.
Tuf is defiantly an entertaining enough character to hold the anthology together, with a weakness for cats, a liking of fine vegetarian cuisine and a long winded way of speaking. This is not a ground-breaking work as it explores familiar tropes and ideas. But, it is something that is worth reading and can be seen as an entry-level way for fans of the TV version of Game of Thrones to get into science-fiction.
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