Pat Murphy began publishing in the 1970’s, but her first awards came in the 1980’s. She received a Nebula for The Falling Woman and another Nebula the same year, along with a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, for “Rachel in Love” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, 1987; chapbook, 1992). “Rachel in Love” was included in Points of Departure (1990), a short-story collection that won the Philip K. Dick Award.
Murphy’s writings synthesize science-fiction and fantasy elements with universal human concerns and problems. Her themes include alien encounters/estrangement, parent/child or male/female relationships, and self-realization/development of talents. Her first novel, The Shadow Hunter (1982), uses time-travel technology to move a prehistoric man into an alien future, and “Rachel in Love” describes the difficulties of a chimpanzee scientifically imprinted with the human intelligence of a teenage girl. The City, Not Long After (1989), a fantasy inhabited by various human, machine, and nonhuman figures, is set in a world devastated by a plague that was caused by humans with misguided intentions. Most of the short stories collected in Points of Departure also feature a synthesis of universal human concerns with the elements of science fiction and fantasy.
The Falling Woman illustrates Murphy’s recurrent themes. First, Murphy expands the alien encounter theme...
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