by George R.R. Martin
Yes, that George R.R. Martin – the same guy behind the Game of Thrones / Song of Ice & Fire phenomenon. This is an earlier work of his (first published in 1985), and it’s something completely different. This group of short(ish) stories all center around Haviland Tuf, space trader turned ecological engineer with a decided penchant for cats. It’s got a bit of the absurdity of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, a bit of the moral tone of fables, a good bit of the classic sci-fi adventure story, and a bit of the flowery dialogue of 19th century English novels. It is fantastic. I hesitate to even call it a group of short stories; it’s somewhere between a contiguous novel and a book of short stories, because there is a narrative thread running through the whole book. But there are also significant time gaps between the clearly delineated sections, so… *shrug* Whatever, it’s a fun read. It’s certainly not as heavy or grim as his Game of Thrones stuff, and the characters aren’t as layered and complex. And, like most fable-like stories, the ending of each story isn’t a huge surprise. But it’s entertaining and enjoyable, and definitely worth a read.
I give it 4/5 stars.