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by Pat Murphy

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-86644-5
Publisher: Tor

A book written by the pseudonymous Max Merriwell, Murphy (Nadya, 1996, etc.) informs us (Merriwell also has a pseudonym—do you really want an explanation here? Thought not), retelling the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (hence the title) in a SF milieu. So it is that “norbit” Bailey Beldon, in his steam-powered spaceship, recovers a battered message pod belonging to the all-female Farr clone family. The pod contains a map of some of the wormholes created by the vanished alien Old Ones, and it pinpoints a source of many more maps. Since wormholes are the only practical method of long-distance space travel, the acquisitive Farrs” dwarf-equivalents—jump at the chance to form an expedition. Gandalf becomes Gitana, a female part-cyborg adventurer. The Resurrectionists, who capture people and harvest their body parts for implanting into machine-slaves, are goblins. Elves appear as “pataphysicians” (to them nothing is real and nothing really matters—or something). And so forth. The Ring manifests itself as an Old One device that can slow down or speed up time for its bearer. Bailey’s adventures faithfully recount Bilbo’s, so readers can amuse themselves by matching these with the original, though Murphy’s constant borrowing of phrases verbatim from Tolkien rapidly grows more irritating than entertaining. Engaging, mostly, but when does genuflection slide away into outright imitation? Stay tuned for The Wild Angel by Mary Maxwell by Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy (don’t say you weren’t warned).