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In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination

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3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,214 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
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 continui ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published October 20th 2011 by Virago Press (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Cynthia
Nov 30, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood is a bit like my friend Lil--she is both right AND left-brained. She writes like a dream and knows her way around science and technology.

Many people ask Atwood why she does not like the term "science fiction" for her work. She calls three of her works "ustopias." Of one, "The Handmaid's Tale," she writes that she "would not put into this book anything that humankind had not already done, somewhere, sometime, or for which it did not already have the tools."

Later in the book in an
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Tatiana
This is basically a collection of previously published bits and pieces of science fiction and science fiction-related writing of Atwood's.

The first (and the most interesting) part of the book is more or less a transcript of the author's lectures which include notes on the evolution of her interest in and understanding of SF, her musings about the connections between science fiction and mythology and religion, and some insight into the intentions and inspirations behind her own speculative ficti
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Madeline
Oct 22, 2011 Madeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
"In Other Worlds is not a catalogue of science fiction, a grand theory about it, or a literary history of it. It is not a treatise, it is not definitive, it is not exhaustive, it is not canonical. It is not the work of a practising academic or an official guardian of a body of knowledge. Rather it is an exploration of my own lifelong relationship with a literary form, or forms, or subforms, both as reader and as writer."

I'm still kicking myself for not being able to make it to Margaret Atwood's
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Jarrah
The first part of In Other Worlds feels like you're hanging out with Margaret Atwood drinking wine when she has a bit too much to drink and starts ramblingly postulating on science fiction, mostly focusing on her relationship with the genre. It was interesting but I thought told us more about Margaret Atwood than it did about "science fiction and the human imagination". The best segment was Atwood's musings on the interconnected relationship between dystopia and utopia, which provided an interes ...more
James
A book I'd been hoping to read for a while. It was on my birthday list and my sister, and her husband, were kind enough to oblige. As I unwrapped it (remembering to use my grateful face) my sister shared two thoughts with me. Firstly, she was surprised that I had asked for a Margaret Atwood book as she really didn't see her as my 'type of author', and secondly, why was Margaret Atwood writing a book about science fiction - after all, she didn't really write science fiction.

My sister likes to spe
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Oriana
Oct 13, 2011 Oriana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-soon
check out how amazing Margaret Atwood is. Per this TreeHugger article: there will be a limited-edition, signed first run of this book (300 copies) printed on a new thing called Second Harvest paper. "This is paper made from the leftover straw after the grain harvest and all other uses are accounted for. It is made without any harm to forests (or food). The straw would otherwise be burnt, causing significant air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions." Of course, the Second Harvest books costs $1 ...more
Hilary
This book was given to me by the perfectly brilliant Margaret Atwood when it comes to the subject of writing. Then again, where exactly has she gone wrong, the woman who gave us The Handmaiden's Tale and Oryx and Crake?

In Other Worlds is a brilliant examination of the science fiction genre, that those in charge of the "SyFy" network really should read prior to premiering a film like "Wolf Town" again. In its chapters, Margaret Atwood muses about everything from Flying Rabbits to Never Let Me Go
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Karen Ireland-Phillips
It’s easy to dismiss Margaret Atwood as the science fiction writer who disses science fiction. But the reality is far more complex, signaled by the highly ironic (and sad) opening quote by Octavia Butler: “I’m a fifty-three-year old writer who can remember being a ten-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an eighty-year-old writer.”
Ms. Atwood eschews any characterization as a “fan”, but she has an impressive grounding in the classics of the field, and an obvious appreciation for current
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El
It's no surprise to anyone that I have a serious girl-crush on Margaret Atwood. There's very little that she's written that I haven't enjoyed on some level, and almost always does her writing make me think on a different level, both aspects of which are pretty important for me. I have some issues with her personality that are similar to others - that in interviews she comes across sometimes as snooty, that she can't seem to get off her high-horse about how some of her own literature isn't SF, or ...more
Mia
Jan 28, 2015 Mia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This is essentially Margaret Atwood's musings on spec fic, taking an academic and pensive look at some of the literary titans of the last few centuries (particularly in the dystopian/utopian genres). I use the word "pensive" rather than "critical", because that's what it feels like: Atwood seems to ponder over the subject, making interesting links to mythology, and adding insight into her own SF works. These essays probably won't challenge you but they will provide lovers of SF an enjoyable and ...more
Tamara
So a while back a friend of mine suggested this book to me via GoodReads, so thank you to my Jewish husband, Jenny from the Block. I LOVE YOU AND I MISS YOU!!!

This book should be compulsory reading for all fans of SciFi if you ask me. Whether you consume most of your SFF through games or TV or even comics, you really really REALLY should read this. Ms Atwood is a legend and knows what she is talking about so you best get comfy and listen up to what she's put down here for all of y'all to read.

PS
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Dinara Tengri
It has been difficult for me to categorize this book. It's not an autobiography, although it is very personal. Nor is it a school book on science fiction and fantasy, and yet I found it very informative and educational. Atwood herself calls it "an exploration of my own lifelong relationship with a literary form (...) both as a reader and as writer."



Atwood is being very open about herself and the life that she has led, and her relationship with science fiction. Her personal accounts inevitably m
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Amber
Sep 27, 2013 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood is who I want to be when I grow up.
Insight into utopias, how society spins them, weaves them, and records them. Speculative fiction, and a rose by any other name.
Yelda Güzel
Dec 01, 2014 Yelda Güzel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood’un ince espri anlayışı ve derin bilgi birikimi ile bezeli bir bilimkurgu/fantastik edebiyat sohbeti. Neredeyse her cümlesinin altını çizmek istiyorsunuz.
İlhamınızı nereden alıyorsunuz sorusuna verdiği cevap örneğin: “yetişkin olarak ortaya koyduğumuz sanat, çocuklukta eksikliğini çektiğimiz şeyleri ikame eder”. Legoya benzer oyuncak takımının kapağındaki değirmen resmini yapmaya çalıştığı ancak eksik parça olduğu için bir türlü yapamadığı oyuncağına gönderme yaparak: “O değirmen
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Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

An intriguing literary critique and more, by Margaret Atwood, based around science fiction. It’s for book lovers as well as fans of the author and the genre.

About: This audio version of In Other Worlds is a catalog of Margaret Atwood’s relationship with science fiction and contains a number of her unpublished lectures including those titled “Flying Rabbits”, “Dire Cartographies”, and “Burning Bushes”. In the lectures she gives examples of the books whi
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Andrea McDowell
Before I get on with the review, I'd like to ask the publishers one simple question: why is the robot-woman on the cover of this book wearing egg cartons on her breasts? I realize the cover is made up of a number of objects meant to be silly and toy-like, but ... egg cartons? Wouldn't that be awfully uncomfortable?

Anyway.

In Other Worlds is about Margaret Atwood's opinions on science fiction: what it is, what it's good for, why she reads and (occasionally) writes it. It's good, if you like both
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Calvin
A really engaging read. First off it was very interesting to read, and get a sense of, Atwood's voice and who she is as opposed to read her being channeled through whatever character she had created. Second, it made me quite happy to read her talk about taking a class from Northrup Frye while she was an undergrad, and how it made her happy to have such a heavyweight in that world tell everyone its Ok to read things that arent considered important/classic if you like them. Once a very long time ...more
Julie
Jan 12, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this immensely but wouldn't recommend everyone. Atwood has written several novels that some would classify as SF (The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, and XXXX) but she says she writes speculative fiction, not SF. That has angered some in the SF community who believe she is denigrating SF and trying to avoid the genre label. This book is a collection of several lectures on the subject that Atwood gave at Emory University; other writings of hers, including reviews, that focus on related ...more
Bryan
Sep 26, 2012 Bryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This feels like a publisher humping the cash cow over the tornado in a teapot that is Margo’s refusal to call her work “science fiction.” Can I call you Margo? Oh you fuzzy haired f-bomb feminist witch, you are my people. To sniff out the nature of Ms. Atwood’s true crime we have to revisit Thomas Disch’s seminal essay “On SF” which makes two assertions: 1) SF is juvenile literature; and 2) SF is literature intended for the working class. These assertions are indeed true, but for Atwood’s take o ...more
Sherri
Jan 12, 2012 Sherri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a big sci-fi fan, haven't read a great deal and know less so I have no beef with her definition of what is sci-fi.

I did like how she argues that sci-fi derives from classical mythology and creates mythologies and archetypes of its own. I like how she doesn't distinguish between high-brow, low-brow and middle-brow. I like that she also read Animal Farm as a child and was as freaked out by it as I was.

The book is broken down into 3 parts: essays about sci-fi and her impressions and opin
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Heather
Oct 30, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Atwood’s desire to write this book stemmed from a book review that was written for two of her books: Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. In the review written for the Guardian in 2009, Ursula K. Le Guin–a well-established author of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres who has won numerous awards for her work–brought up the fact that Atwood doesn’t want any of her work to be called science fiction. She disagreed with Atwood’s definition of what science fiction is, and accused Atwood of sloughing o ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Imagine being able to pick a really famous author's (like Margaret Atwood) brain. This book is sort of like that. I really like Atwood. Her books are what I would call sort of underhanded science fiction. There are definitely science fiction elements there but the scenarios and the characters have something realistic about them.

The book is divided in a few different sections. Atwood talks about her writing process from when she was a little kid (the story about the flying bunnies was adorable a
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Nikki
My goodness, how often can a book namecheck Ursula Le Guin?

Margaret Atwood's writing is good and compelling, even when she's writing non-fiction -- though I confess to a personal tendency to drift off and stop registering exactly what she's saying, just reading for the pretty words. I had that a bit here, but her ideas are intriguing and the little scrap between her and Le Guin has always amused me. Well, the whole speculative-fiction vs. science-fiction as a genre label actually really tickles
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Scotchneat
Atwood doesn't set out to write a definitive anything about "science fiction" or "fantasy", as she says clearly in the introduction.

Instead, she gives us a collage of readings, reviews and analysis, linked into her lifelong interaction with other worlds, creatures and so on.

I especially enjoyed Atwood's attempts to define science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, utopia. Particularly tied to her ongoing discussion with Ursala K Le Guin about it (and to whom the collection is dedi
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Mary (BookHounds)
This is a collection of short stories, thoughts on other writers, and a few thoughts on her life mixed together in several essays. I was a closet sci fi geek growing up and Margaret Atwood was one of the authors I loved to read. You can find her influences on many young adult authors today, whether they want to admit it or not. This read gives a bit more insight to her writing and her uneasy relationship with the science fiction community at large. This is one of those books that you can easily ...more
Dione
Nov 30, 2015 Dione rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great insight into the psyche of Margaret Atwood and her thoughts on writing and Science Fiction.
Tim
Dec 16, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, literature
Atwood's collection of essays on speculative fiction is more like a series of lectures than an academic tome. In the pieces here, she displays her knowledge of the development of imaginative literature, particularly its earliest incarnations in the 1800s, and discusses what the genre has meant to her personally. There are a few book reviews and discussions of individual works, like Wells's "Island of Dr. Moreau", H. Rider Haggard's "She", Huxley's "Brave New World", and works by Marge Piercy, Br ...more
Julia
3 1/2 stars. I absolutely loved the first part of Margaret Atwood's exploration of the appeal of both sci-fi and speculative fiction. My inner English major was completely won over by her scholarly yet accessible attempts to connect these often overlooked genres with subjects as disparate as mythology, Victorian novels, and political changes from the mid 18th to early 19th century. In addition, Atwood talks about her childhood encounters with science fiction and personalizes the book with charmi ...more
Jonathan
May 30, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atwood brings you full circle when explaining the workings of science fiction literature and how it plays a part in the everyday. With historical and cultural ties, she illustrates exactly how some of the most popular science fiction stories got their start and the purpose their narrative serves. Note that this isn't a grand omnibus to explain the entire genera, but rather a collection of articles organized into chapters that break down popular stories along with Atwood's personal reflections.

In
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Annisa Anggiana
Love it! Love it!
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FABClub (Female A...: * In Other Worlds discussion 1 3 Nov 24, 2015 05:21PM  
Boulder Book Club: New Book for Atwood Fans 2 8 Oct 25, 2011 03:46PM  
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
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“Instead I will say, "Take me to your trees. Take me to your breakfasts, your sunsets, your bad dreams, your shoes, your nouns. Take me to your fingers; take me to your deaths." These are worth it. These are what I have come for.” 17 likes
“It’s always encouraging to be told that it is intellectually acceptable to read the sorts of things that you like to read anyway.” 8 likes
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