22 janvier 2008

Pat Murphy ~ There And Back Again

Pat Murphy ~ There And Back Again

Pat Murphy, writing as her imaginary friend/alter ego Max Merriwell, presents a view of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit through the lens of space opera.
Bailey Beldon, a norbit who loves a good tale of adventure from the comfort of his asteroid belt home, unexpectedly becomes an unwilling protagonist when adventurer Gitana and a group of powerful Farr clones show up on his doorstep to retrieve a message pod he has scavenged. The message--from another Farr clone--includes a map of previously unknown wormholes and the tantalizing promise of a glorious Snark, the Farr term for alien artifacts left behind by the Old Ones.

Bailey suddenly finds himself light years from home and in the company of an oddball assortment of characters, including a 'pataphysician named Gyro Renacus, who, along with Gitana, appears in Murphy's Wild Angel, and Fluffy, a fighter pilot who is part cat. (Max Merriwell even writes Murphy in as a character.)

Assisted by his tone-deafness, his pragmatism, and a Mobius strip that can slow time to a crawl, Bailey pits himself against Resurrectionists who use the clones as spare parts, trancers who hypnotize with music, pirates, gigantic metal-eating spiders, and the Boojum--the Snark left to guard the treasures the adventurers seek.

Murphy's prose sparkles throughout. Her tone ranges from the dazzlingly descriptive (as in her portrait of the heart of the galaxy) to the crisply active to a fairy-tale tone that brings to mind the soothing voice of Maurice Evans, making There and Back Again a choice novel to cozy up with on a rainy day. --Eddy Avery


Pat Murphy somewhere on the web:

Gyro Renacus is a 'pataphysician. In There and Back Again, the 'pataphysicians are equivalent to the elves in the Hobbit.
Incidentally, the 'pataphysicians (like the Clampers) are real, though most readers think I made them up. The College of 'Pataphyics was founded by the French writer Alfred Jarry (author of Ubu Roi). The Surrealist counted Jarry as a forerunner of their movement. I won't get into a long discussion of 'pataphysics here. For more info on the College, check out http://www.pataphysics.com/pataex.html. But I have to note that the spiral-bearing figure that dances across the screen at www.well.com is a 'pataphysical figure. The spiral is the symbol of the College of 'Pataphysics. Why a spiral? Well, as Gyro explains in There and Back Again, every point on the spiral is a turning point.
That's one of the basic tenets of the College of 'Pataphysics. Each point along any path is a turning point.

Pat Murphy somewhere on the web: Now lest people take it amiss that I say I was playing, let me say that I take playing very seriously. To clarify, let me quote 'pataphysician Gyro Renacus in conversation with Bailey in There and Back Again:

"I've heard people say that 'pataphysicians think everything's a kind of a joke."
Gyro shook his head. "Now that's not true at all. In fact, only a 'pataphysician is capable of complete seriousness. You see, we take everything seriously. Absolutely everything." He sipped his whiskey.
"According to the Principle of Universal Equivalence, everything is just as serious as everything else. A battle to the death with Resurrectionists, a game of Scrabble, a love affair—all are equally serious."
"But people say...."
"People don't always understand," Gyro said gently. "You see people confuse playing with not being serious. We are very serious about our play."
Bailey frowned. "I guess I see. You play -- but you take it seriously so that you can win, and...."
"Ha ha, no. Playing to win -- that's not it at all. When you are playing to win, you are in a finite game, a game with boundaries. I was speaking of the infinite game, where one plays simply in order to continue to play."
"So you don't take winning seriously?"
"We take it just as seriously as we take everything else."

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