Margaret Atwood came to Tallahassee last night to read and answer questions. I’ve written up an account for Omnivoracious.
I thought she was quite wonderful. In answering questions and talking about her books, she was happy to use terms like “speculative fiction” and refer to classics familiar within the genre like We. It became clear from her interactions with the audience that use or non-use of the term “science fiction” didn’t matter in the least. More importantly, given the environmental message of her last two novels, I can see why she would prefer not to use the term “science fiction”–it might seem somewhat limiting given that she seems committed to the idea of a sustainable future as much as she is to fiction. Regardless, it’s certainly her choice to self-define however the hell she wants to self-define.
I thought it interesting that she cites M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud as a major influence in her interview in the local paper, along with Weird Tales comics, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne.