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In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533966
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Deeply thoughtful, deftly argued, sometimes unexpected—[Atwood] shows readers how science fiction fits into a long, venerable tradition. . . . Bracing, provocative."
Los Angeles Times

“Eminently readable and accessible. . . . Atwood revels in all aspects of the SF genre, both high- and low-brow, and her enthusiasm and level of intellectual engagement are second to none.”
Financial Times


"Atwood is a perceptive and enthusiastic literary critic, dryly funny and eclectically curious."
—San Francisco Chronicle

“A witty, astute collection of essays and lectures on science fiction . . . It’s clear that [Atwood's] affection for the genre is deep and genuine . . . Wholly satisfying, with plenty of insights for Atwood and sci-fi fans alike.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred

"Atwood's prose is addictive. . . . She crafts sentences with poise and grace and pitch-perfect highbrow humor."
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“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. . . . Delving into her personal origins as a sci-fi writer as well as the social and literary origins of the genre in its broadest sense, Atwood offers interesting, entertaining and thoughtful insight into both. For anyone interested in the genesis of fiction, science fiction, or the authors behind either (and of course Atwood in particular), In Other Worlds is a worthwhile and rewarding read.”
The Miami Herald

“Atwood archly and profoundly delves into her ‘lifelong relationship’ with science fiction in a collection of glimmering essays.”
Booklist

PRAISE FOR MARGARET ATWOOD

“A speculative-fiction visionary . . . Atwood has an uncanny knack for tapping into humanity’s uncertain future and predicting mankind’s cultural, scientific and sociopolitical falls from glory . . . Her fiction has peeled back the skin of our disturbing subcutaneous nightmares.”
Wired

“One of the most intelligent and talented writers to set herself the task of deciphering life in the late twentieth century.”
Vogue

“Throughout her literary career . . . Margaret Atwood has impressed and delighted readers with her wit, lyric virtuosity, and imaginative acuity.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“This amazing woman’s voice, this fine writer’s constant example, is extraordinary.”
Boston Globe

“The tremendous imaginative power of [Atwood’s] fiction allows us to believe that anything is possible.”
New York Times Book Review

About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been pub­lished in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her nov­els include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize; and her most recent, The Year of the Flood.

More About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Customer Reviews

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite writers.
Timothy Haugh
If you are an Atwood fan you'll love it, if you a science fiction fan you'll appreciate and enjoy it.
Sean the Bookonaut
Atwood knows it more intimately than anyone and reveals it differently, much differently.
Bookreporter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I confess to being somewhat disappointed by In Other Worlds, Margaret Atwood's collection of essays (along with a handful of fiction shorts) dealing with science fiction. She has long been a favorite author of mine, and her science fiction (or speculative fiction as she'd prefer) works my favorites among her books: The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, the science fiction elements of The Blind Assassin. She's also an insightful critic and a sharp non-fiction writer. So I was looking quite forward to seeing her thoughts on the field I've been reading in for so long.

The problem may have been one of expectations, therefore. I come to the collection as both an Atwood fan and a science fiction fan and it's the latter part that may have been the issue. Someone who comes to the collection merely as an Atwood fan, one not well versed in the genre, might find this a moderately illuminating collection of essays, but I'm not sure there's much here that a science fiction fan hasn't already seen. Even for those relatively unfamiliar with science fiction, though, I fear the essays are a bit slight.

The first few essays are a mix of memoir and an examination of fantastic stories. I say "fantastic" because the focus isn't yet on science fiction per se. Atwood covers myths, superhero stories, romances, and utopias/dystopias. Clear, succinct and informative, it's also pretty well-trod ground, and at times pretty quickly covered ground, as when she zips through various superhero elements such as costumes and secret identities in a page or two or offers up questions the new "mythos" of science asks and then answers the questions in a paragraph or two. The section on utopias/dystopias covers the expected ground (Brave New World, 1984, etc.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Clint Schnekloth on November 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You can always expect Margaret Atwood to come at a topic sideways, and this collection of essays is no exception. It opens with a series of three evocative pieces on the relationship between the human imagination and the development of a genre many only begrudgingly title and shelve as "science fiction."

What sets these early essays apart is Atwood's considered interpretation that the lines between genres are not nearly as hard and fast as we might think. Furthermore, she sees origins of the drive to write science fiction and fantasy differently than other authors, because she sees it a natural outgrowth the habits and activities of childhood. One theory she offers from her own childhood, that since she kept failing to build a windmill from her Tinkertoy set (she missed some of the necessary parts), she built fantastical structures and creatures instead.

Atwood continues this (might we call it Jungian?) analysis of science fiction writing throughout. She sees archetypes washing between the various genres--comparing superheroes to Greek mythology and modern fantasy. She sees her own early imaginative world influencing what she writes as an adult.

And in one of her most intriguing theses, she coins the term "ustopia": "A word I made up by combining utopia and dystopia--the imagined perfect society and its opposite--because, in my view, each contains a latent version of the other" (66). I find this incredibly helpful, because as we know certain individuals thrive in dystopias and find their place there, whereas every utopia is only the perfect society for those who belong to it, certainly not those who feel excluded from it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sean the Bookonaut on October 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination is a curious book. But to understand some of its raison d'être you need a little background.

Once upon a time...
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Margaret Atwood seems to have had tense relationship with some elements of the science fiction community( and vice versa) since her release of the novel The Handmaid's Tale in 1985.

Atwood was awarded the Arthur C Clarke[1] for The Handmaid's Tale , which was also nominated for a Nebula[2] and a Prometheus [3] - all science fiction awards. It was also a finalist for the prestigious Booker Prize for literature.

She has previously distanced herself from the science fiction scene stating that she doesn't consider what she writes to be science fiction, that she writes speculative fiction. Perhaps her early response to praise from the science fiction community, in the form of awards, can be viewed understandably as an impolite rebuff and characterising science fiction as "talking squids in space" as late as 2003 probably hasn't helped either.

She has been accused of protecting her brand as a writer of serious literature of not wanting to be branded or pigeon holed as genre fiction writer. I don't think that there's enough evidence to back this claim and Atwood herself dismisses it within the book.

Answering her critics or simply,"this is me take it or leave it"
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In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination is an interesting a mix of biography, essay and fiction.

The first hundred or so pages are heavily biographical, while simultaneously being educative.
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