The Hippoi Athanatoi, the immortal horses, are the fabulous steeds of the gods and heroes of Greek myth.
This series of linked stories following the trader and fledgling ecological engineer Haviland Tuf, set in the same universe as Dying of the Light and other stories by the author, is an amusing and decidedly thought-provoking tale. There’s the distinct flavor of Jack Vance, perhaps from his series of novels showing various human cultures in the Alastor culture, because of the many unique and strange cultures encountered in this book. But the focus truly is on Tuf, a huge bald albino both brilliant and eccentric, and the Old Earth seedship he stumbles across and wins control of. With this old technology in his hands, he is able to create all manner of life, tailored to do what he wishes it to do, whether it’s Tyrannosaurus Rex running loose to defend his vessel against intruders or strange plants that produce all manner of things.
But what’s truly fascinating about these stories is the progression of Tuf’s character. As each story passes, his sense of power and so responsibility begins to change and grow, until the end . . . Well, that would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say, it’s a remarkable work as Martin takes a cause and follows the path to its inevitable conclusion. These questions might also appeal to fans of Martin’s other work, which often deal with similar or related subjects. Finally, there’s an interesting and amusing story about a world where noble houses vie for power through gladiatorial combats featuring various alien creatures, as one or two of the beasts therein are clearly antecedents for creatures from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire setting.
Hippoi Athanatoi is divided into four sections, covering various of our hobbies.