Pat Murphy,
Adventures in Time &
Space With Max Merriwell

(Tor, 2001)

Pat Murphy concludes her trilogy of multi-dimensionally authored novels by going on a sea cruise where reality checks bounce in Adventures in Time & Space With Max Merriwell.

Librarian Susan Galina is recovering from a divorce while on the cruise she won in a raffle from a magazine for writers. She shares the trip with her best friend, Pat Murphy, who is writing a dissertation on theoretical physics. Susan is cautious and self-conscious, and she envies her friend Pat, who is curious and willing to try new things.

One thing they will both do, however, is attend a writers' workshop taught by author Max Merriwell. Merriwell writes science fiction under his own name, fantasy under pseudonym Mary Maxwell and gritty thrillers as Weldon Merrimax. It seems as if his pseudonyms have taken on flesh, personality and history as well, because both Maxwell and Merrimax show up on the cruise ship.

As the ship nears the Bermuda Triangle, elements of previous novels There and Back Again (by Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy) and Wild Angel (by Mary Maxwell by Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy) manifest in metaphorical ways. The ship's band plays a song for a limbo contest with an effect similar to the Trancers in There and Back Again, wolves howl from Wild Angel and two more Pat Murphys show up, one male, one female, and none of the three Pat Murphys are the author of the book.

There is a murder, only Tom Clayton, the ship's security officer, is uncertain whether the victim actually existed. Chaos, romance and adventure ensue, to say nothing of the Flaming Rum Monkeys.

In comparison to the first two books, Murphy has a severely limited setting for her tale, a ship in the middle of the ocean. Such a backdrop lacks the lateral range of outer space or the Wild West. In less deft hands, this could have created a static story, but Murphy threads her tale in and out of multiple layers and dimensions in a plot which, while just about impossible to describe in its intricacy, is thoroughly engrossing and satisfying to read. It makes you think -- it makes you want to think.

Murphy also introduces a website, The Bad Grrlz' Guide to Physics, created by the character Pat Murphy.

If life is becoming a bit too dull and predictable, grab a Flaming Rum Monkey (the recipe is on page 178), get comfortable and get engrossed in Adventures in Time & Space with Max Merriwell.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 30 March 2002

Buy it from