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By Margaret Cavendish. Art by Rebekka Dunlap.The Blazing World is one of the most fascinating, unusual and astonishing pieces of literature in the English language. Written in 1666 by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, the story follows a young woman who is transported to a world of animal-people, becomes their empress, and eventually leads an invasion back into her own world, complete with bird-man bombardiers and submarine ships! Featuring numerous full-page and spot illustrations, elaborately die-cut and embossed slipcase. Beehive Books, 2021. Due: Feb.

Not Yet Published. Expected 2/28/22

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The Blazing World is one of the most fascinating, unusual and astonishing pieces of literature in the English language. Written in 1666 by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, the story follows a young woman who is transported to a world of animal-people, becomes their empress, and eventually leads an invasion back into her own world, complete with bird-man bombardiers and submarine ships! Featuring numerous full-page and spot illustrations, elaborately die-cut and embossed slipcase.

The tale involves spirit possession, astral projection, the many-worlds theory, and an inter-dimensional otherworldly queer romance that is centuries ahead of its time.

In Alan Moore’s graphic novels chronicling the adventures of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Blazing World was identified as the self-same idyllic realm from which the extra-dimensional traveler Christian, a member of the first League led by Duke Prospero, had come in the late 1680s. The league disbanded when Christian returned to this realm, and it was to this realm that Prospero, Caliban, and Ariel also departed many years later.

Feminist critic Dale Spender calls it a forerunner of science fiction. It can also be read as an utopian work.

From the major entry in Wikipedia: As its full title suggests, Blazing World is a fanciful depiction of a satirical, utopian kingdom in another world (with different stars in the sky) that can be reached via the North Pole. According to novelist Steven H. Propp, it is “the only known work of utopian fiction by a woman in the 17th century, as well as an example of what we now call ‘proto-science fiction’ — although it is also a romance, an adventure story, and even autobiography.”

Cavendish divides Blazing World into three parts. The first part being “romancical”, the second “philosophical”, and the third “fancy” or “fantastical”. The first “romancical” section describes a young woman being kidnapped and unexpectedly being made Empress of The Blazing World. The second “philosophical” section describes the Empress’ knowledge and interest in the natural sciences and philosophy. She discusses these topics with the scientists, philosophers, and academics of The Blazing World. In the final “fantastical” section, the Empress acts in the role of a military leader during an invasion. She clothes herself in jewels and special stones that give her the appearance of a deity. When the Empress triumphs over the naval battle, the Blazing World is described again as a utopic empire.

Bud here: Having not seen this yet, nor read the original novel, I can’t make a personal recommendation. However, the publisher is known for their fine high quality limited editions. This is part of that series, so I will be surprised if I’m not giving it high marks when it arrives here. Their other books have all been outstanding. Search “Beehive” on our website to see their other titles.

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