One final archived review. JohnT! Come back! We miss you!
Before we begin, there are SPOILERS aplenty about this book. Any and all are free to post what you want about this book without having to resort to the spoiler tags. Also, my initial post is rather large, so I’ve taken the liberty of breaking it up into smaller chapters.
For starters, is The Handmaids Tale (THT) actually science fiction? When you look up the book on Google, everybody and their brother refers to it as a “science fiction dystopia” yadda, yadda, yadda, but the author herself emphatically claims it is not (link). Given that her definition of science fiction is “Science fiction is filled with Martians and space travel to other planets, and things like that”, I’ll just snort derisively at her for denying she’s in my side of the ghetto. :p
But seriously, THT is close enough to debate the issue (like 1984, which Atwood favorably compares her novel to: “The Handmaid’s Tale is speculative fiction in the genre of Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Nineteen Eighty-Four was written not as science fiction but as an extrapolation of life in 1948. So, too, The Handmaid’s Tale is a slight twist on the society we have now.”) (Same site as above).
Two, no, three unmistakable conclusions occur: 1. THT can be defined as one damned well pleases, 2. Just as long as you don’t tell Ms. Atwood that you’re defining it as science fiction, and 3. I am capable of creating a paragraph made almost entirely of parenthetical statements. :rolleyes:
OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way lets get to the boring crap:
Title: The Handmaids Tale
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart (Can.), Houghton-Mifflin (US).
Voice/Tense: First-person stream-of-conscious. This is a woman who has little to do but remember, so you will go back and forth in time, even within the same paragraph.
Setting: What is now Cambridge, Massachusetts, with many scenes taking place in and around Harvard.
Themes: Women’s bodies, language as a tool for manipulation, the power of complacency and apathy.