Author Encyclopaedia

Authors arranged alphabetically. You know, like an encyclopaedia!

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Atwood, Margaret (Margaret Atwood)

Margaret Atwood, the writer who tiptoes along the genre lines so cautiously, one wonders if she's avoiding cracks in the pavement for superstitious reasons. Not quite science fiction, not purely speculative fiction, and definitely not "talking squids in outer space"—although let's admit, that would be a fun read. Here at SFcrowsnest, we like to dissect, examine, and occasionally roast all kinds of speculative works, and Atwood provides ample fodder.

"The Handmaid's Tale" is, of course, her claim to genre fame, a dystopian fable that’s as much a warning label for society as it is a novel. And speaking of labels, Atwood herself once eschewed the science fiction tag for it, opting for "speculative fiction" instead. Apparently, intergalactic travel is the firm line; oppressive theocratic regimes are well within the realm of Earthly plausibility. Duly noted.

Then comes "Oryx and Crake," a tale that trots us through a future replete with genetic engineering gone amok. It's the sort of place where fast food takes on a whole new meaning, and your pet could very well be a lab concoction named "wolvog." Again, this isn't sci-fi, according to the Atwoodian dictionary; it's speculative fiction—because everything in it is just a CRISPR away from reality.

A companion to "Oryx and Crake," "The Year of the Flood," manages to paint an even bleaker picture. It explores the same deranged future through different lenses, presumably just in case you thought things could improve. Spoiler: they don't.

"MaddAddam" rounds off this merry trio, like the final act of a Shakespearean tragedy where everyone's fate is sealed, but with more bioengineered creatures and less iambic pentameter.

Fast forward to "The Testaments," her Booker Prize-winning sequel to "The Handmaid’s Tale," which answers questions nobody dared to ask. What happened to the characters we loved (or loathed)? Did society manage to pull itself out of its nosedive? Atwood has the answers, and let’s just say, optimism isn’t her default setting.

So, whether you want to call her works science fiction, speculative fiction, or just darn good storytelling, Atwood delivers narratives that tickle the brain and occasionally punch it. She may insist that she doesn’t write about "monsters and spaceships," but make no mistake, the monsters in her works are terrifyingly human and the spaceships, while absent, aren't needed to take us to strange new worlds. Earth, under Atwood’s lens, is alien enough. You can search the Nest for articles on Atwood, Margaret (Margaret Atwood) over at