The setting is an unnamed though obviously New Yorkish high-rise city, the time less convincingly future than deliciously other, as it combines 21st-century engineering feats with 19th-century pork-barrel politics and smoky working-class pubs. Source

What does this "other" mean here?

What does this whole section mean, and what does this sort of writing suggest?

  • 2
    This string of words is comprehensible, but it would be a lot better if you included the complete sentence (or paragraph!) and explained that it was from a book review. – snailplane Dec 27 '13 at 4:44

In case it's not obvious, I'll just point out that in the phrase...

the time [is] less convincingly future than deliciously other

...the word is has been elided (it's just an optional repetition of "The setting is"). We can recast the context into the simplified statement...

The time is more other than future.

If you look at these written instances of was more other than, you'll see that (1) - it's not a common construction, and (2) - the word "other" is often enclosed in quote marks. Here's a typical usage...

Valerie is every inch a Californian—outgoing, bubbly, and liberal. So at the National Trust she was very "other."

In both OP's and my own example, other is simply an unusual and somewhat "literary" word-choice in contexts where most native speakers would use different.

In all such usages, the precise nature of the difference is context-specific. In OP's case, the writer is saying the fictional work under review is set in a period that's different to the one we currently live in, because it contains an unusual combination of elements from the past, present, and foreseeable future.

I wouldn't advise learners to copy such obscure literary phrasing. There's nothing wrong with OP's example, but I would just say that in many similar contexts (not this one) it would probably be better to use more explicitly adjectival terms such as other-wordly, futuristic rather than plain other, future.

  • I still wonder what deliciously is doing in there? Without it, I can understand that part, but with deliciously, I'm uncertain. – Damkerng T. Dec 27 '13 at 16:20
  • @Damkerng: He just means it's an interesting, stimulating, appealing kind of "difference", rather than something unsettling, disconcerting, unpleasant (which on average is the more common connotation of words like other, strange, different). – FumbleFingers Dec 27 '13 at 16:35
  • @kih1930: Well, obviously it's not really "futuristic", because it includes 19th-century pork-barrel politics and smoky working-class pubs. It's just "strange". – FumbleFingers Dec 28 '13 at 14:53
  • But where's the definition in the dictionary? – user2492 Dec 28 '13 at 15:53
  • @birdman: Per my final paragraph, and as implied by preceding text, it's an unusual and somewhat "literary" word-choice in this context. The Q&A here will get few votes because it's largely irrelevant to people who would need a dictionary to understand the exact meaning (i.e. - "learners"). Effectively, it's M-W's definition #5 - disturbingly or threateningly different creatively converted to a "positive" attribute by the writer's (also literary/unusual) use of the word deliciously. – FumbleFingers Dec 28 '13 at 16:53

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