In Other Worlds:

SF and the Human Imagination

At a time when speculative fiction seems less and less farfetched, Margaret Atwood lends her distinctive voice and singular point of view to the genre in a series of essays that brilliantly illuminates the essential truths about the modern world. This is an exploration of her relationship with the literary form we have come to know as “science fiction,” a relationship that has been lifelong, stretching from her days as a child reader in the 1940s, through her time as a graduate student at Harvard, where she worked on the Victorian ancestor of the form, and continuing as a writer and reviewer.  This book brings together her three heretofore unpublished Ellmann Lectures from 2010: “Flying Rabbits,” which begins with Atwood’s early  rabbit superhero creations, and goes on to speculate about masks, capes, weakling alter egos, and Things with Wings; “Burning Bushes,” which follows her into Victorian otherlands and beyond; and “Dire Cartographies,” which investigates Utopias and Dystopias.  In Other Worlds also includes some of Atwood’s key reviews and thoughts about the form. Among those writers discussed are Marge Piercy, Rider Haggard, Ursula Le Guin, Ishiguro, Bryher, Huxley, and Jonathan Swift. She elucidates the differences (as she sees them) between “science fiction” proper, and “speculative fiction,” as well as between “sword and sorcery/fantasy” and “slipstream fiction.” For all readers who have loved The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood, In Other Worlds is a must.

Editorial Reviews

“It’s a delight to see Atwood revisit Mischiefland, both because of the lovely details she remembers (the flying bunnies kept cats as pets and ate only ice cream), and because this retelling leads Atwood to speculate on the origins—cultural, literary, mythic, religious—of the science fiction genre…In Other Worlds reminds us that all genres are capable of deepening and developing this one human story.”

Boston Globe

“Atwood gives us a bracing tour of the writers and books she admires (like Ursula Le Guin and ‘She’ by H. Rider Haggard), her interest in ustopia (a mix of utopia and dystopia) in her fiction, as well as some autobiography…[In Other Worlds] explains how the genre fits into a continuum dating to the world’s oldest myths and continuing today with authors who use the genre to examine social ills, not run away from them.”

Los Angeles Times

“Atwood certainly has read a fair bit of and thought deeply about science fiction, and she shares generously with her readers.”

Christian Science Monitor

“A witty, astute collection of essays and lectures on science fiction by the acclaimed novelist…Wholly satisfying, with plenty of insights for Atwood and sci-fi fans alike.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

In Other Worlds is an eminently readable and accessible clarification of [Atwood’s] relationship with SF and the SF tradition…The lectures are insightful and cogently argued with a neat comic turn of phrase…[Atwood’s] enthusiasm and level of intellectual engagement are second to none.”

Financial Times

“A smart and often playful book.”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“Fascinating…Vibrant…Compelling…Not only is In Other Worlds powerfully readable and mentally refreshing, it’s also one heck of a joyride through the limitless imagination of a national (and international) treasure.”

BookReporter

“Interesting, entertaining, and thoughtful…Atwood fans, sci-fi fans, indeed fiction fans, have reason to rejoice. In Other Worlds is a delightful read full of Atwood’s well-honed prose and sly sense of humor.”

Miami Herald

“Margaret Atwood is a valiant champion [of science fiction]…Her prose is addictive…She crafts sentences with grace and pitch-perfect highbrow humor.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Atwood is a perceptive and enthusiastic literary critic, dryly funny, and eclectically curious.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Author Biography

Margaret Atwood’s books have been published in more than thirty-five countries. Her novels The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Blind Assassin was awarded the Booker Prize, Alias Grace won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy. In 2005 Atwood received the Edinburgh International Book Festival Enlightenment Award. She lives in Toronto.

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Reader Biography

Margaret Atwood’s books have been published in more than thirty-five countries. Her novels The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Blind Assassin was awarded the Booker Prize, Alias Grace won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy. In 2005 Atwood received the Edinburgh International Book Festival Enlightenment Award. She lives in Toronto.

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