I wonder if I might share some personal thoughts and experiences about SF in order to shed light on the way I read "Exit West"?
I must have been about 6 or 7 when I was in big trouble at school for refusing to read the books we were given, and disrupting lessons as a diversion. Janet and John's escapades were incredibly dull, I thought. My grandmother, and my mother must have got talking, because I shall never forget that first Wednesday evening when The Eagle landed on the mat at the front door. There was Dan Dare blasting off in the Anastasia to who knows where, with Digby and co, and I just had to know what they were saying in those speech bubbles. So I taught myself to read through SF, and interest in the genre, to varying degrees, stayed with me all my life. (As a matter of interest, I went from bottom of the class to top in reading, in less than a year!).
I read my first SF novel, Wells' "War of The Worlds", hiding in my bedroom in Lisbon, aged 14. Much of the SF I grew up on was about adventures in outer space, alien invasion, fear of the unknown, coming mainly through radio, TV, and comics. In the 80's, we had “Journey into Space” on the radio, and “Twilight Zone” on TV. The movies gave us “Them,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, ”Earth vs The Flying Saucers”, “Things To Come”, all about thrills and excitement. During the 90's and 2000's, more novels and short story collections began to appear, together with a number of blockbuster movies. But for most people in the Portugal, SF meant “Space 1999”, and “Star Trek”.
If you're into SF, read on.