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In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination
2011, 255 pages
This book starts with several essays which explore the science fiction genre, combining literary analysis, personal reminiscence, and philosophical probing into the human condition. Also included are 10 book reviews by Atwood, looking at classic science fiction works. Atwood does not write much science fiction herself, (although several of her novels are classed as the related “speculative fiction”), but the book ends with four of her short sci-fi stories.
Much of her analysis in this book involves sci-fi's roots in classical mythology, the big questions that are considered and developed, and the role that these tales can play in our lives. She discusses the imaginative potential of “wonder tales,” compared to the relative constraints of realistic fiction, where some things can really only happen in dreams.
Keep your pen handy as you read, and you'll compile quite a reading list of science fiction and related classics!