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 [via]