In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination Paperback – 4 Oct 2012
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Eminently readable and accessible . . . The lectures are insightful and cogently argued with a neat comic turn of phrase . . . Her enthusiasm and level of intellectual engagement are second to none (James Lovegrove Financial Times)
Margaret Atwood's fascinating account of her lifelong relationship with science and speculative fiction.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is set into three sections. In the first `In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination' we are treated to three long essays. The first of which Margaret Atwood discusses her love of science fiction, based on the fact that growing up in rural Canada she would read anything and everything and this meant a lot of her father's science fiction, comic books, pulp, noir, you name it. She went on to draw and create stories of her own superhero's... flying rabbits, and looks at the myth of the superhero and compares it to science fiction. The second looks at the myths and religions that make up science fiction in varying ways and the third how Margaret Atwood created `ustopia's' based on merging utopias and dystopias. I loved this section, in part because the way Atwood writes makes it feel like you are sat having a conversation about these things with her (if only), there is a humour and knowingness as you go along, secondly because it shows the forming of a writer which I always find fascinating and thirdly because it made me think. A lot.Read more ›
In this remarkable, sometimes autobiographical work, Atwood takes the reader on an anthropological journey , a history of science fiction if you like, delving as far back as the time of cave paintings before turning, reluctantly perhaps, towards our present era. And taking in - as you will - Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and the Industrial Revolution along the way.
Were the Mayans there too, with their alleged end-of-the-world apocalypse (or five thousand year hoax) or did I just imagine that bit?
By the time the phrase was coined (sometime between the world wars) the fiction that now is preceded with the word 'science', was already many millennia old. Woven into this fascinating story are the modern era pioneers: Wells, Huxley, Haggard, Swift, McKibben and of course Le Guin. Piercy (Woman on the Edge of Time) gets a deserved mention too.
And to this list, we must now add Atwood herself, taking SF into a new realm that she terms Speculative Fiction: fiction that might turn out to be true. Or at least, some bits of it.
Having read the blurb for the book, with its mention of childhood superhero rabbits and other odd creatures, I wasn't quite sure what to expect (superhero bunnies not really being my thing). But then, I didn't think 'science fiction' was my bag either, before I read Le Guin and Piercy and leaned they also belonged to this eclectic gang.
As it turned out, I couldn't put the book down. Thanks to Atwood, the superhero bobtails have their place too (even, yes really, if their fur is green and they glow in the dark).
I've read an awful lot of literary criticism in my time and - even though I'm an enthusiast and I LOVE my subject, I'll be the first to admit, some of the essays written on the subject are just DULL, DULL, DULL. Indeed, it cannot be overstated enough the wonder, when as a student of the subject you find someone who can actually write about it enlighteningly and do it well. Margaret Atwood does just that in this book. In fact, I've got to say, it would be rare for me to pick up a book like this and not just focus on the area I was studying at the time (for instance, in this selection you can find pieces on Gulliver's Travels and Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go), but I felt compelled to read the entire book. This, I've got to say, is a miracle in itself. She is so funny, so witty and always with such a neat turn of phrase, it was hard to put it down.
I loved the original pieces and I loved the pieces about works I've read (I hadn't read them all). The stuff about Ishiguro I particularly enjoyed, as I did the essay on Mad Scientists. Cannot recommend this enough, particularly if you are studying Lit - merely including a few quotations from this book in your essays is going to liven up any written work and provide those marking them with a treat.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating collection of a great writer's essays on Science Fiction across the ages.Published 11 months ago by Grylla S. Noab
Atwood: an author defined for me by the dry timbre of her voice. Begins well with the comic strips, or funny papers ('the funny papers raised many questions in my young mind, some... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
Was bought as a present (it had been asked for) so daughter was looking forward to receiving it.She was not disappointedPublished on 2 Jan. 2014 by Birdie
I was expecting more of an extended discussion rather than this more broken up work, but it is a good and interesting read nonetheless. Read morePublished on 23 Mar. 2013 by Christine