Review: Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created

Book cover to Laura Miller's Literary Wonderlands
Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created by Laura Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Miller's book is what has become increasingly one of my favorite and most frustrating types of books: a book about other books. In this book, Miller and a host of fantastic contributors share (very) short essays on the power of worlds that are crafted fro imagination in fiction.  Starting as far back as the Epic of Gilgamesh and traveling up through the 2000s, they identify some of the richest worlds every created with an eye towards fictional worlds that have been influential, culturally rich (with mostly a Western fixture), and popular across media.  Most of their historical choices seem to have withstood the test of time but of course, the ones of the last thirty years seem a little more challenging with it being unclear just what their standard for "greatest fictional worlds" means.  They include some evident ones (Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and Lagoon), but leave out others that seem still relevant or important (e.g. no Robert Jordan, Piers Anthony, or Cixin Liu).  Their focus, especially as they move towards the 1800s and present seem to be fantasy, science-fiction, speculative fiction, and the like so it's no surprise to see Alice in Wonderland along The Lost Continent and Solaris, but again, there are others that feel strange such as Stevenson's Treasure Island.  Regardless, the summations and explorations of what each of these books has to offer are done effectively enough that inevitably, readers will find themselves adding new books to their "to read" list while marveling at some of the insights derived from books that they know and love.  

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