There and Back Again

Pat Murphy, Author Tor Books $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-86644-0
Purporting to be a space opera by the prolific hack ""Max Merriwell,"" this latest and disappointing novel from top fantasist Murphy (Nadya, etc.) is a transparent translation of Tolkien's The Hobbit and Carroll's ""The Hunting of the Snark"" into SF. One day Bailey, a chubby ""norbit"" who lives contentedly on an asteroid, is visited by the adventuress Gitana and seven members of the Farr Clone, who are on a quest. They seek to rediscover a lost colony and a rumored treasure of the Old Ones, those ancient beings who created the wormhole system that crisscrosses the galaxy. Gitana, over the Farrs' objections, insists that Bailey is exactly the additional member the group needs to form a cohesive whole, despite his lack of obvious talents. Readers who have read The Hobbit and are familiar with the conventions of space opera can probably guess the rest of the plot. Murphy seems to be having a lot of fun with her pastiche, but it founders. Although there are some lovely bits involving Bailey and a feisty spacecraft named Fluffy (after the cat who makes up part of the craft's cybernetic AI), too often the tale reads like what it purports to be, a second-rate space opera. There aren't enough humorous moments or brilliant variations on Tolkien to make up for the recognizability--and thus predictability--of the story line. In an afterword Murphy reveals that she's working on a fantasy novel, The Wild Angel, to be published as by ""Mary Maxwell,"" one of Max Merriwell's pseudonyms. Hopefully, Murphy as Max as Mary writes with more panache than Murphy as Max. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-20939-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-8125-4172-4
Show other formats
Discover what to read next