Margaret Cavendish was the first woman to publish prolifically under her own name, but has been largely forgotten until very recently, with certain of her works coming back in to print for almost the first time since their release in the 17th century. Among them is The Blazing World, one of the most diverse works I have ever read, especially from a 17th century writer. Cavendish throws in practically every genre of her day into one book (barring drama and poetry), making for a unique read. Adventure/sci fi blends into a scientific Utopia a la Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, and moves further into classical and modern philosophy before finally returning to adventure/fantasy, and even autobiography as the author introduces herself as a character. Some of these concepts work better than others, with the more scientific sections being quite tedious at times (again a la Bacon), but also makes for interesting combinations, as she explores Neo Platonism in a fantasy context, with the souls of "Platonic friends" travelling freely of their bodies to visit friends in other worlds, a la Obi Wan Kenobi in The Empire Strikes Back. Most of Cavendish's ideas on their own are not particularly original, but come together in entertaining ways in this book. Perhaps the concept that worked best here is the overall theme of writing as wish fulfillment, as Cavendish creates a world where her personal wishes and fantasies come true in a light hearted way. This is the earliest novel in which I have felt a great sense of the author looking back out at the reader in a Ferris Bueller, tongue in cheek fashion, much like Virginia Woolf's Orlando, a novel written by an author who was certainly familiar with, and influenced by, Cavendish's work. And yes, this is definitely a novel, just as much as Defoe's dreary Robinson Crusoe is a novel, if not more so. And a much wittier novel at that.