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In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,974 ratings  ·  332 reviews
Note: The electronic version of this title contains over thirty additional, illuminating eBook-exclusive illustrations by the author.

At a time when speculative fiction seems less and less far-fetched, Margaret Atwood lends her distinctive voice and singular point of view to the genre in a series of essays that brilliantly illuminates the essential truths about the modern w
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published October 2011
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Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Archetypal Exploration

There are two fundamental principles in Jungian psychology: 1) The unconscious part of the mind is indistinguishable from reality, and 2) The self, composed of the conscious and unconscious mind, is indistinguishable from God. As a self-confessed Jungian, Margaret Atwood, undoubtedly unconsciously, employs these two principles wonderfully in her commentary on Science Fiction, In Other Worlds.

Science fiction as a genre is of course a Jungian playground in which primitive arc
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
Cynthia Paschen
Aug 19, 2011 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
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book.
In Part 1, Margaret Atwood tells of her childhood and University reading of the old sci-fi books. Her insights and thoughts are interesting and humorous. Her depth of knowledge shows throughout. This is one smart lady.
Part 2 is a collection of essays on specific sci-fi works. There's a number of books that I've never heard of but will be adding to my TBR list to hopefully find a copy. Showing the connection between old Sci-Fi, new Sci-Fi and ourselves.
Part 3
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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
Tudor Vlad
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Margaret Atwood and science fiction
I’m continuing with my promise of reading more Margaret Atwood, this time with something quite different. If last time I read Alias Grace which for me was a pleasant change of pace from the usual speculative fiction I grew expecting from Margaret, now I’m moving to the realm of non-fiction with this collection of essays, some short-stories and thoughts from the one and only Margaret Atwood.

The title of the book, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, says it all. This is a book about sc
Collection of essays, mostly about science fiction and the struggle to define it. Atwood sets the record straight about how she really sees science fiction. Early half of the book is better, though the best thing is the letter she wrote to a school district that tried to ban Handmaid's Tale.
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
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Miss Bookiverse
I geeked out about this book a little. I loved reading Atwood's contemplations on the sci fi genre/s and comparing them to my own studies of dystopian literature (she talks about Orwell and Huxley a lot), but also learning more about her life and career. Hence the first third of the book was my favorite part. The second third focuses on specific titles such as 1984, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Never Let Me Go and many more. Those were more accessible when I actually knew the works she was refer ...more
This has made me want to dig out and re-read some old favorites and to bust out the scifi I've been meaning to read.

Great book.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love and respect Atwood's work. She is creative, imaginative and has just the right pinch of cynicism added to her work to give it spunk and spice. The only issue I've ever had with her was, that I read that, she refused to classify her later novels as "Science Fiction". To me, the Madd Adam Trilogy, "A Hand Maid's Tale" and "The Heart Goes Last" fit well into that genre. So this was a really cool collection of articles, book reviews and essays plus short stories and commentaries that made the ...more
Oct 13, 2011 marked it as to-read
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
Peter Tillman
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this in 2011, and my booklog entry reads in total "A, interesting ." The cover art looks vaguely familiar. This appears to be the only Atwood book I've actually read.

Here's a decent review of the book, a collection of essays:

And here's an uncollected 1983 essay:

And another, "The Female Body", 1990
Sep 19, 2013 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.
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
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
May 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for something with a bit more depth from such a well-regarded author as Atwood, but I was sorely disappointed. There's nothing particularly insightful here - the most I got out of it was a short survey of well-known sci-fi from an earlier generation that sounds like it might be somewhat interesting.

Worse than the dullness of the essays themselves is that there doesn't seem to be any cohesive theme or point to the essays, it's just a randomly-collected jumble of musings about science
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feisty Harriet
This is a series of essays by Margaret Atwood that discuss her particular views on science fiction as well as a lot of memoir-type information about her growing up, schooling, and studying fairly obscure texts. The only other Margaret Atwood I've read is "The Handmaid's Tale" which she talks about a little here, but it made it difficult to follow other essays that were discussing books of hers I've never read. Also, she narrates part of the audiobook herself, and, uh, audiobook narration is not ...more
Lectures, book reviews, short stories by the author

Margaret Atwood went to graduate school for English (focusing on Victorian fiction) and this background was very clear in her lectures. It was interesting to read her take on science fiction, utopias, and dystopias. My favorite parts were her book reviews - I always enjoy hearing what other people think of books I've read or want to read.
She's definitely literate
Thomas Edmund
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Confess, I'm a little surprised not to see more popularity for this book online. Perhaps the popularity of the Television Series Handmaid's Tale didn't translate to all of Atwood's other works, which is a shame because this stuff is really good.

Atwood proves her sharp intellect in this review, specifically capturing many insights into utopias and dystopias (or at she calls them Ustopias) and providing intriguing reviews of the concept of Science Fiction.

The book is divied into the main essay on
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliant essays on writing, very good other pieces.
Natalie Cannon
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My partner and I are big fans of The Handmaid's Tale, so when we saw In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination available for free on audiobook through the library, we snatched it up. What we found was an unexpected tour de force on Atwood's relationship to the genre and her thoughts on the inter-generational relationships between past and current SF books.

Read by Susan Denaker and Atwood, In Other Worlds is a collection of essays, speeches, and reviews Atwood has done over the years. Part me
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We listened to the audiobook, which is partially read by Atwood herself - a very neat experience. It would probably work best as a paperback, though, as it's a dense work. From the concept of genre labels to the nature of utopia and dystopia, this book is wide ranging and deep in its description of the literary forebears of the works Atwood discusses.
Sep 12, 2012 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
Pantomime Python
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
John Park
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Margaret Atwood, as we all know, does not write science fiction (but see below). Nevertheless throughout her career she has periodically written about SF and related subjects. This book, dedicated to Ursula K. Le Guin, samples the results.

She starts with an autobiographical sketch describing her affection for superheroes and her discovery of Bradbury and Wyndham, and subsequently her fascination with utopian and dystopian fiction. (Oddly she repeatedly italicises the title of Wyndham's novella "
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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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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