The first volume of Raya Golden’s graphic novel adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Tuf Voyaging is here, visually transporting readers into the deeply and darkly comedic science-fiction universe, the Thousand Worlds, created by Martin. Voyaging, Volume One: The Plague Star features art and story adaptation by Golden, who manages to provide a graphic novel adaptation that, in my opinion, is an even better format to experience this adventure tale of environmentalism, betrayal, and absolute power.
Originally published as seven separate novellas, the universe was eventually brought together to form Tuf Voyaging, the first of these novellas being The Plague Star. For a universe that’s so vastly different from Martin’s most well-known franchise, there is a familiarity with the characters and how their stories are told. The Plague Star features a vagabond group of eccentric characters from many walks of life, at the head of it all the captain hired to escort the dishonest types to their desired location — Haviland Tuf, space trader and cat-lover extraordinaire.
Golden adapts both the stories and descriptions that Martin provided in the novella delightfully, and in many cases adds to the existing appeal of the franchise more. With an additional 60(ish) pages to expand upon the novella, Golden receives extra time to expand upon the story and characters, to flesh out details more to make the Thousand Worlds all the more immersive — something taken advantage of to the full extent. Fans of Martin’s work know that it is multifaceted and to be appropriately adapted all of these angles must be represented and explored to their fullest potential, something Golden successfully manages with The Plague Star. The lighter, goofier moments are embraced just as much as the serious themes and macabre creatures and events. Golden remembers that it’s all about balance and ensures that the graphic novel isn’t too heavy one way or the other.
As far as the artwork, I don’t think it’s possible to find fault in a single page. While the novella is far from fresh in my mind, I feel Golden’s artwork captures the spirit of what Martin was communicating with written descriptions in the original print. The colors are vivid and intense in the best of ways for a science fiction story, and the characters are unique and full of variety. There’s a sense of wonder on every page, the most profound hope I have going into every science fiction story and one that is delivered in troves in The Plague Star.
In summary, if you’re not familiar with the Tuf Voyaging franchise and the Thousand Worlds already, the graphic novel adaptation of The Plague Star is the perfect introduction that will enchant you with trippy, funky visuals that jump out of the page at you and an adventure of a story that will keep you entertained. It’s a comedic meditation on our future as a species and explores topics that need to be explored, no matter how difficult it is to face our shortcomings as a species and the greed that can consume so many of us.
And if you are familiar with Haviland Tuf and the Cornucopia Of Excellent Goods At Low Prices but haven’t picked up the graphic novel yet — what are you waiting for? You’re only going to love it more once you pair the story you love with stunning artwork. While the graphic novel isn’t a line-for-line adaptation, the changes are impressive and only seek to further the readers’ connection with the universe and characters to the fullest extent. Personally, I’d say this is an instance where the graphic novel is my preferred medium to experience this story between its original format and the new adaptation.
As mentioned, Voyaging, Volume One: The Plague Star is only the first of several potential graphic novel volumes for the Voyaging graphic novel adaptation. Stay tuned for potential updates on additional releases.