The Austin Chronicle

Getaways Far, Far Away

Summer reading recommendations that will take you out of this world

Reviewed by Robert Faires, June 17, 2016, Arts

Oz. Middle Earth. Narnia. Lilliput. Discworld. Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars. Ray Bradbury's Mars. These imagined worlds and so many others like them have long captivated us, their fantastical topologies, strange flora and fauna, and richly detailed histories drawing us to revisit them again and again – both as individuals and as a culture – just like tourist hot spots in our own reality. These days, we're as likely to make those return journeys through a screen as a book, but the most enduring of the Wonderlands (including that one – thanks, Lewis Carroll) originated on the page, and that's still a thrilling place to discover them.

Now, in our era, in which ravaged postapocalyptic landscapes overrun by brain-munching hordes hold sway, you may think they don't make Neverlands like they used to. But (with apologies to Rhymin' Simon) every generation throws its Westeros up the popcult charts – even this dystopian-fixated, zombie-engorged one. For this year's Summer Reading roundup, our writers' mission was to seek out new life and new civilizations that contained some of the enchantment of the imaginary realms of yore, the kinds of fantastic worlds that you'd want to visit more than once. Here are their dispatches from out of this world.

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