Why I Write Speculative Fiction
The problem with speculative fiction is what might be called "the tour of the garbage disposal plant," in which somone says to the visiting character, “Well in your day, you did this terribly inefficient thing, but now we have this wonderful garbage disposal plant.”
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian novelist, poet, and essayist. She is best known for her novels, in which she creates strong, often enigmatic, women characters and excels in telling open-ended stories, while dissecting contemporary urban life and sexual politics. She is among the most-honored authors of fiction in recent history. In addition to the Arthur C. Clark Award-winning "The Handmaid’s Tale," her novels include "Cat’s Eye," which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, "Alias Grace," which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and "The Blind Assassin," winner of the 2000 Booker Prize. "Oryx and Crake" was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008. Her most recent novel is "The Year of the Flood."
I read 1984 probably three years after it was first published. I read Brave New World around that time in my life. I read a book called Darkness and Noon, which is actually not speculative fiction or science fiction. It’s life during the purges in the Soviet Union, but it read to me very much like that kind of book.
Growing up in the ‘40’s, I was still in the golden age of sci-fi, and I just knew it. So I also did some work on it earlier in my life and I guess I always wanted to write a book like that. And the first one that I wrote was called The Handmaid’s Tale. And I wanted, among other things, to try to solve the problem that those kinds of book have, which I call the tour of the garbage disposal plant, in which the person says to the visiting character, “Well in your day, you did this terribly inefficient thing, but now we have this wonderful garbage disposal plant.” And there’s a lot of exposition like that and I want to be able to tell the story like that without those big chunks of exposition.
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