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Books

BOOK REVIEW

‘In Other Worlds’ by Margaret Atwood

Author examines the role of science fiction

Hell hath no fury like a science fiction fan scorned. Margaret Atwood knows this firsthand. Over the years, the author of “The Handmaid’s Tale’’ has chafed against the science fiction label, preferring to have her work called “speculative fiction.’’ The backlash from the sci-fi community has been predictable. As Atwood writes in her new collection of essays, “In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination,’’ “scarcely a question period goes by at my public readings without someone asking, usually in injured tones, why I have foresworn the term science fiction, as if I’ve sold my children to the salt mines.’’

“In Other Worlds’’ is Atwood’s attempt to come to terms with her complicated relationship to sci-fi. The book is divided into three parts: a three-chapter “personal history of sorts’’ in which Atwood describes her lifelong interest in science fiction and fantasy; a collection of previously published essays on specific works; and finally, a sampling of Atwood’s own efforts in the genre. (Atwood is now comfortable with her own work being described as science fiction.)

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