Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Murphy, Pat

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(1955-    ) US writer whose first acknowledged fiction is "Nightbird at the Window" (in Chrysalis 5 anth 1979 ed Roy Torgeson). Most of her work combines speculative elements in ways that place them near the borders of rather than at the centres of genres. The Shadow Hunter (1980 IASFM as "Touch of the Bear"; exp 1982) is an sf novel in which a Stone-Age man is abducted by a Time-Travel project into a deracinated future. The Falling Woman (1986) uses Timeslip – an archaeologist perceives (and eventually interacts with) the long-vanished inhabitants of the Mayan dig she is overseeing in Mexico – to tell a story of reconciliation and psychic Healing. The novel won the Nebula Award. The City, Not Long After (as "Art in the War Zone" in Universe 14 anth 1984 ed Robert Silverberg; exp 1988) is ostensibly set in an implausibly genial post-holocaust San Francisco (see Holocaust and After), in which the gentle artisans who populate the city defend it against invading fundamentalists.

Besides the theme of temporal displacement, PM's stories frequently centre on physical Transformations, often between human and animal. Rachel in Love (1987 IASFM; 1992 chap), about a chimpanzee whose mind has been imprinted with the personality of a dead teenaged girl, employs both themes; it won both the Nebula Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. "His Vegetable Wife" (1986 Interzone) offers a twist on the theme by John Collier. "Points of Departure" (1995 F&SF), not included in the collection of that name, proposes lycanthropy as a metaphor for the changes overcoming a rejected woman. "Going Through Changes" (1992 F&SF) involves virtual reality in a story that nevertheless quickly becomes fantasy, again involving biological transformation as a metaphor for female self-realization.

PM's early fiction was collected in Points of Departure (coll 1990), which won the Philip K Dick Memorial Award. She has published relatively little since. Her fiction is assured and intelligent. [GF]

other works: Letters from Home (anth 1991 UK) with Pat Cadigan and Karen Joy Fowler – all 6 PM stories are also in Points of Departure.

Patrice Anne Murphy


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.