Haviland Tuf is a small-time trader who agrees to a contract taking an usual group of passengers to a location that holds a mothballed ship: a massive craft that has equipment to clone any creature from all of the explored worlds in the galaxy. Through a variety of misadventures and many mushroom based meals Tuf and his cats travel to various planets offering genetically modified animals to solve the problems people are having on colonised worlds.
Tuf Voyaging is an anthology of stories all featuring Tuf and his 'Ark.' They fit together well, with Tuf's behaviour and attitudes gradually changing as he becomes used to the power the Ark gives him. Never particularly good with people, Tuf uses the creatures he creates to teach lessons to the people who are buying them when he thinks they want them for the wrong reasons and is arrogant and awkward when dealing with complaints.
Through all the stories runs a great seam of humour. Tuf's attitude to other humans and his stubborn literalness, when it suits him, is very funny, and used to great effect. He twists situations around to make it a biblical fable and learning experience for his employers, never quite giving them what they want, even if it's exactly what they said they need.
Comedy science fiction is difficult to get right, but Martin pulls it off here like a true genius. Each story manages to be both funny and have a situation with a good twist. My copy of the book is battered and worn, I've read it many times myself and leant it to several friends, who all enjoyed it. My only regret is there aren't more Tuf stories to revel in.
Review by Paul, 2004
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