This post is part of our Margaret Atwood Riot Reading Day, a celebration of one of our favorite authors on the occasion of the publication of her new novel, MaddAddam. Check out the full line-up here.
Who is going to pay for the cheese sandwiches?
Unlike many authors of her generation, Atwood actively thinks about, experiments with, new technology and publishing paradigms. This talk from 2011 shows her mind at work: fun, inquisitive, and incisive.
“Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen,” she explains. Her work is always researched: Oryx and Crake, a novel blending a biological apocalypse with a genetically engineered genesis, acknowledges a number of personal debts in terms of research and background, but also scrupulously offers a list of documentary sources at a web address.
Wait, don’t spaceships actually exist? At any rate, the distinction between science fiction and speculative fiction is worth thinking about.
You think I’m not a goddess?
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you’ll burn.
Beloved as she is by all right-thinking readers, Atwood is still pretty underrated as a poet.
But the fact is that my country and my panel were glaring exceptions in this respect. On the subject of equality—I was asked to do this, as I’ve said, because there wasn’t much choice, and it’s this lack of choice that I’m speaking to—I represent an absence. “We need someone to do it who will be equal to the men,” I was also told. Which men? I wondered. And how many at once? I don’t mind having to be equal to four or five men, but one hundred and seventeen is a pretty tall order. And I wouldn’t have minded having a little help.
Real talk from way back in 1986.
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