Author Biography and Bibliography


Pat Murphy has won numerous awards for her thoughtful, literary science fiction and fantasy writing. In 1987, she won the Nebula, an award presented by the Science Fiction Writers of America, for both her second novel, The Falling Woman, and her novelette "Rachel in Love." In 1990, her short story collection Points of Departure won the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, and her novella "Bones" won the World Fantasy Award. Her short fiction has also won the Isaac Asimov Reader's Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and has reached the final ballot for the Hugo Award, presented by the World Science Fiction Convention. Her novel There and Back Again won the 2002 Seiun Award for best foreign science fiction novel translated into Japanese.

Murphy's work is difficult to categorize. Settings of her novels have ranged from a post-apocalyptic San Francisco that has been taken over by artists (The City, Not Long After) to an historically accurate depiction of the California trail, as seen by a young woman who becomes a wolf when the moon is full (Nadya). Her work ranges from scientifically accurate science fiction to psychological fantasy to magic realism.

In 1999, Murphy made a departure from her usual, serious work with the publication of There and Back Again. She claims this novel was written by her alter ego, Max Merriwell, a pulp writer who is unabashedly overjoyed to be writing science fiction. This novel is, as you probably guessed from the title, based on The Hobbit. Basically, it's The Hobbit retold as a space opera, with wormholes and space pirates and pataphysicians.

Her next novel, Wild Angel, continued in this vein. Wild Angel was written by Mary Maxwell, a pseudonym of Max Merriwell's. Wild Angel is an action-adventure novel in the spirit of Tarzan, about a young girl adopted by wolves in Gold Rush California.

Murphy's latest novel is Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell. This book, which she says she is writing herself, is about Max and his pseudonyms: Mary Maxwell and Weldon Merrimax. Publisher's Weekly calls Adventures the "cerebral equivalent of a roller-coaster ride" and says, "The narrative is replete with absorbing ponderings on the nature of reality and the nature of the novel … In this book obsessed with books, the questions of who is in charge, who is real and whether the answers to those questions matter will leave readers pleasantly dizzy." The New York Times Book Review says, "this savvy romp buttresses its nonstop action with quantum-mechanical insights into the nature of the universe and post-modern noodling about the nature of writing and reading."

When she is not writing science fiction, Pat writes for the Exploratorium, San Francisco's museum of science, art, and human perception. Many of the artworks featured in her third novel, The City, Not Long After, were inspired by art and artists at the Exploratorium. The books she has published as part of the Exploratorium staff include By Nature's Design, The Color of Nature, and The Science Explorer and The Science Explorer Out and About, books of science activities for families.

Pat also has extensive experience as a teacher. In 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998, she taught science fiction writing as part of Stanford University's Creative Writing Program. She has taught science fiction at the University of California at Santa Cruz and has participated as an instructor at the Clarion Speculative Fiction Workshop at Michigan State University.

She has a black belt in kenpo karate, and her favorite color is ultraviolet.

Photo by Dave Wright.