Margaret Atwood’s zombies: the present state of the future
Atwood places her novels in the Jules Verne tradition of science fiction: within the realms of possibility
“Let’s be realistic,” she says. “The clock is ticking. How old are you? Thirty-eight? Well, wait 20 years and then you will see that you do in fact start thinking like this. I ask how much time do I have. I’ll probably still be ambulatory for another 10 years at least. I might have my mind in its current form for a discernible period of time. But not an infinite period of time.”
Does this awareness affect her work in other ways? “I think I’m working faster.”
Atwood is working on three projects, but won’t give details.
She will never be pinned down to one form or genre. “They all appeal to different parts of me. You have different intentions in different forms of writing. I’ve always been a multiple-form writer. I started in high school writing poetry, fiction and non-fiction prose. Some of the things I’ve done are just work, like certain kinds of television writing I’ve done. Some things are just play, like [writing ballads for family birthdays]. And some things are more serious enterprises.”
She’s not alone in this. “Look at what Jonathan Swift actually wrote,” she says. “Quite a lot of very different things. Some of them very serious stuff. A Modest Proposal – a piece of satire with a very serious intention. Gulliver’s Travels – some of it’s satire, some of it’s just japing around, some of it’s an exploration of the human condition. People have different interests and aptitudes. So why limit yourself artificially?”
Margaret Atwood will speak at the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire today as part of the Mountains to Sea festival. MaddAddam is published by Bloomsbury
Dark futures: Atwood’s dystopias
The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
The US has become the theocratic Republic of Gilead, where fertile single women are forced to bear children for the regime’s elite.
The MaddAddam trilogy (2003-2013)
With its feral cities and all-powerful corporations, this future America is already nightmarish before a plague wipes out most of humanity.
This online novel is set in a future in which private prisons provide the unsettling solution to the planet’s overcrowding and unemployment problems.
The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home (2012-2013)
A strange plague has left much of humanity craving human flesh, but there are refuges where people can commit their infected relatives.