There and Back Again
by Pat Murphy
Tor, 1999, ISBN 0312866445
A book review by Elisabeth Carey
This is a rather light-hearted sf version of The Hobbit. Bailey Belden, a norbit who makes his home in the Restless Rest, an asteroid in our solar system's asteroid belt, gets a visit from an old friend of his grandmother's, who has decided that he's the perfect addition to an expedition she's helping to outfit.
An expedition to the center of the galaxy.
Much of the way at relativistic speeds, not FTL.
And everyone else on the expedition will be a member of the Farr clone, who don't really trust outsiders, and who are primarily concerned with accumulating more wealth, and more power to make more wealth, for their clone.
All the major events are here, although the magic ring is a bracelet, both Gollum and the barrel are constructs embedding human brains in mechanical housings, the Laketown folks are decendants of the first Farr clone expedition to the center, and the dragon is a construct of the Old Ones, the pre-human spacefaring civilization that had much more advanced technology than humans have yet developed. It's good fun.