From the author of The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace
Rabbit superheroes. A theory of masks and capes. Victorian otherlands.
From her 1940s childhood to her time at Harvard, Margaret Atwood has always been fascinated with SF. In 2010, she delivered a lecture series at Emory University called 'In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination.' This book is the result of those lectures. It includes essays on Ursula Le Guin and H G Wells, her interesting distinction between 'science fiction proper' and 'speculative fiction', and the letter which she wrote to the school which tried to ban The Handmaid's Tale.
'Spooky . . . wild' - Telegraph
'Elegant and witty' - Guardian
'Eminently readable and accessible . . . The lectures are insightful and cogently argued with a neat comic turn of phrase . . . Her enthusiasm and level of intellectual engagement are second to none' - Financial Times
Atwood has a long and complex relationship with science fiction, and this mix of essays and short fiction represents her most sustained examination of the genre to date. Famously having refused the label "science fiction" for such novels as The Handmaid's Tale, she prefers to call her work "speculative fiction," though she here reveals herself to be both friendly to and well-read in genre SF. The book opens with three personal essays on her relationship with the fantastic, beginning with a delicious piece on her childhood obsession with rabbit superheroes, followed by a look at the connections between mythology and modern SF, and a useful discussion of her own work as dystopian fiction. Although there is little for scholars of the fantastic per se, these pieces do give significant insight into Atwood's formative influences. Following are 10 more tightly focused essays, on Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau, H. Rider Haggard's She, and other works. The six short stories are all minor but enjoyable satires on standard SF tropes such as alien invasion and cryogenics. This enjoyable volume, tellingly dedicated to Ursula K. Le Guin, reveals a writer with strong, often fascinating, if idiosyncratic opinions about genre SF.