04 January 2013

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination is a bit like an origin story. Margaret Atwood's origin story, the origins of an author who freely read pulp magazines, comics, and science fiction growing up in rural Canada.  The first three chapters address this, with the third ("Dire Cartographies") expanding on Atwood's definition of ustopia - a word made by combining utopia and dystopia and applicable to many of Atwood's own works.

The second section, "Other Deliberations", is made up of ten essays/reviews of works and authors such as George Orwell, Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, H. Rider Haggard's She, and HG Wells.  There's a great sentence where Atwood notes that the line "Do it to Julia!" - Winston's ultimate cop-out in 1984 - became a catchphrase at her house when one wanted to avoid "onerous duties" (p 145).

My favorite part of the book was the third section, a selection of five of Atwood's shorter pieces including "The Peach Women of Aa'A" from The Blind Assassin - the short story within the story within the story.  Loved the "Cryogenics: A Symposium" story.

This was also the first time I managed to catch-up with the Bookrageous podcast book club (just search iTunes or Podbean, etc. for Bookrageous if you haven't caught up with this great podcast created by book-lovers for book-lovers - as they say: "We're serious about books, but not exactly serious.")

Bonus: In Other Worlds is dedicated to Ursula K. LeGuin.

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