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Reading this… October 31, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

The Handmaid’s Tale received the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987. The award is given for the best science fiction novel that was first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. It was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, and the 1987 Prometheus Award, both science fiction awards.
Atwood has resisted the suggestion that The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake are science fiction, suggesting to The Guardian that they are speculative fiction instead: “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.”[17] She told the Book of the Month Club: “Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians.”[26] On BBC Breakfast she explained that science fiction, as opposed to what she herself wrote, was “talking squids in outer space.” The latter phrase particularly rankled advocates of science fiction and frequently recurs when her writing is discussed.[26]
Atwood has since said that she does at times write social science fiction and that Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake can be designated as such. She clarified her meaning on the difference between speculative and science fiction, admitting that others use the terms interchangeably: “For me, the science fiction label belongs on books with things in them that we can’t yet do…. speculative fiction means a work that employs the means already to hand and that takes place on Planet Earth.” She said that science fiction narratives give a writer the ability to explore themes in ways that realistic fiction cannot.[27]

I was much struck by the term ‘advocates of science fiction’. So I clicked on the link.

Which brought me to this.

Ah. Okay.

Still, got to admit I understand why it might have rankled some while also understanding why Atwood may have felt her work didn’t quite fit into SF. But I think the genre is pretty broad.


1. Starkadder - November 1, 2015

There was an article in “Black Static” magazine about how women
often stated that “The Handmaid’s Tale” to be the most frightening book they’d ever read (I believe the other novel that women specifically found disturbing was “The Stepford Wives”).


WorldbyStorm - November 1, 2015

And not just women. I remember flicking to the end to the postscript because it was so horrific. The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree Jr remains the most appalling in terms of content story I’ve read due to the gender aspects, I’ve linked to it before and it’s online.

Btw can I ask was it you watching Continuum? Git season one second hand dead cheap and really like it but curious about its political stance…


2. benmadigan - November 1, 2015

The handmaid’s tale is a great novel . Agree with author Ms Attwood it is more social, than science, fiction


WorldbyStorm - November 1, 2015

In a way, but… social fiction is a significant part of science fiction since the 1970s New Wave.


CL - November 1, 2015

‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ (1969). More recently Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Aurora’. -social/political sf. And Heinlein. Many more,

Liked by 1 person

3. Liam Cullinane - November 2, 2015

On a related note, I’d be curious to know if anyone else has read this: http://www.amazon.com/Red-Planets-Marxism-Science-Classics/dp/0819569135 It’s a pretty good overview of the genre and the extent to which it lends itself to progressive / revolutionary politics.


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