Danny Miller asked Margaret Atwood:
Margaret, To take just two of your Dystopian worlds--that of The Handmaid's Tale and that of the MaddAddam trilogy--each holds a place of exile, whether it's the Pleeblands or the Colonies. Do you think this (perhaps post-colonialist) trait is necessary for Dystopian fiction? What other traits are? A caste-system, surely, but what are less obvious elements that you think make up a Dystopian society?
Margaret Atwood Hello Danny: In "In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination," I propose "Ustopia" -- the idea that each dystopia contains within it a little utopia, and vice versa. There are also places of exclusion and/or punishment (like the pleeblands and the Colonies) and, if an author is feeling kind towards the characters, a way of escape (flee to Canada via the Underground Frailroad) or a refuge (God's Gardeners Ararats); sometimes the escape or refuge is situated in a Future-future in which the bad regime is now history. Dystopian societies are (in general) places of maximum unfreedom; strangely, utopian societies are often strangely similar. As human beings, we are always torn between individual freedom and the ability of choose our actions, and the need for at least enough social structure so that anarchy, chaos, and warlordery -- or the war of all against all -- can be avoided.
More Answered Questions
Elena asked Margaret Atwood:
Hello, Margaret. I write from Oviedo (Spain) and would love to have you back (and give you another Pince of Asturias Award!). My question is related to the construction of Grace Marks' character in "Alias Grace". She is such a troubled, complex and - I think - intelligent young woman. Yet you let readers discover that for themselves. How did you achieve that? Thanks.
Imen Diamond asked Margaret Atwood:
Personally ,i first got introduced to the Canadian Literature through you Madam ,and through Alice Munro as well,there are only a handful of canadian writers known in the world today,why is that ? what hinders Canadian Literature from getting an international acclaim,as that of the American and British Literatures ? when will Candian literature be taken seriously?! Thank you so much :)
the Goodreads Team asked Margaret Atwood: