Posted by: Natalie | June 27, 2011

In Other Worlds

In my reading frustration on Friday, I decided to do a little Bookmooching, in particular for the beautifully covered Margaret Atwood books:

"The Robber Bride" by Margaret Atwood. Such a stunning cover, I could quite happily own this as a poster!

While hunting out ISBN numbers to ensure I found the pretties I desired (might have to buy them brand new when funds allow) to match my World Book Night copy of The Blind Assassin (a little bit sad, I know)) I came across a book to be released in just over 100 days time. The Autumn season sees the launch of a new Atwood book, but not one of fiction. In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination is something of a compilation; her three Ellmann Lectures and commentaries on her own fascination with science fiction, of her depictions of utopia and dystopia among other strands of the genre. Allow me to add the current synopsis floating around the internet . . .

IN OTHER WORLDS: SF AND THE HUMAN IMAGINATION is Margaret Atwood’s account of her relationship with the literary form we have come to know as ‘science fiction’. This relationship 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 ancestors of the form, and continuing as a writer and reviewer. This book brings together her three Ellman Lectures on 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 Ustopias -Utopia/Dystopia – including her own ventures into those constructions. IN OTHER WORLDS also reprints some of Atwood’s key reviews and speculations about the form, or forms – for she also elucidates the differences – as she sees them – between ‘science fiction’ proper, and ‘speculative fiction’, not to mention ‘sword and sorcery/fantasy’ and ‘slipstream fiction’.

“In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination” by Margaret Atwood. Out in hardback this Autumn.

I think it should be fascinating. The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake and The Blind Assassin are three of my favourite books, as I have said many a time, and are filled with sci-fi references, but I had never really acknowledged them as being part of the genre. I hear Sci-fi and I instantly think of ridiculous aliens, William Shatner, space shuttles and all in one shiny silver jump suits. It is a parody of an image I seem to hold for science fiction, and unjustly so for I think I actually have more of a penchant for this style of tale than I initially realised. For it is not all about tin foil wrapped robots, its about seeing the world around us with an alternative view but one which ultimately highlights the failings (and occasional successes) of mankind. The perceptions of society and the moral high ground are often challenged in such books and leave you with a questioning which is healthy and necessary for the world to keep turning. Science Fiction (and the questions it can raise) is possibly one of the more important foundation stones of our nation’s literature and should, by the likes of me, be taken more seriously. For this, I am instantly adding In Other Worlds to my wish list. I cannot wait to read a little more insight into one of my ultimate authors. And perhaps see the world of Science Fiction in a little more depth than simply watching Red Dwarf.



  1. Added to my amazon wish list – this looks fantastic! I love Atwood’s dystopic tales, which I find so much more involving than some of her more conventional novels. x

  2. I’ve always found good science fiction to be a framework to examine life here and now, via the proxies of space/time travel and alien elements. Sexism, racism, imperialism, fascism, overpopulation, environmentalism, you name it and there’s sci-fi that takes it on. And, of course, the best of it does the job so subtly that you almost don’t notice, so caught up are you in the personal stories of the characters. I’m so glad you’ve discovered you already like some sci-fi and are willing to explore further. Come on in… the H2O’s fine!

    • Heeheee! I love your comment Toni! Thank you, don’t mind if I do dip a toe or two!! Nxxx

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