The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The first story in what was to become the Tuf Voyaging sequence, “A Beast for Norn,” appeared in the 1976 anthology edited by Peter Weston, Andromeda 1. The remaining six stories were published in Analog between 1978 and 1985. In the first story, Haviland Tuf is already the owner of a thirty-kilometer-long “seedship” of the extinct Ecological Engineering Corps, designed by the long-dead Federal Empire of Earth to win a war now a thousand years in the past. The seedship, known as the Ark, gives Tuf the power to create life-forms almost at will, by cloning from its enormous cell library.

“A Beast for Norn” sets the standard story pattern for this sequence. Tuf is set a limited task by his employer, in this case to produce a beast to win combats in the gaming-pits of Norn. The employer, however, fails to understand the basic point of ecological engineering, which is that no single new factor can be introduced to a situation without radically altering all other factors. To put the same point more briefly, “quick fix” solutions will not work. Tuf sells the beast as requested but then sells other fighting beasts to competing houses. The contests escalate, the prey animals supplied with the fighting beasts destroy the local habitat, and the gaming-pits are forced to close.

In two further stories, appearing in Analog in 1978 and 1981, Tuf deals with a world where a religious bigot is...

(The entire section is 495 words.)