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
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
She has a black belt in kenpo karate, and her favorite color is
Photo by Dave Wright.