Book Sixty

Book Sixty 2014: 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


Now this comes from the top drawer.

I don’t know whether it’s that there’s more post-apocalyptic fiction out there in the last few years or just that I find myself attracted to it and reading it more. Maybe a little of both. This one, of course, comes from a long way back – the mid-1980s to be precise and could teach a huge amount to the current (admittedly very decent) crop.

In this future the apocalypse isn’t zombies or nuclear war or disease or war or famine, it’s men. Firstly there’s an attack that kills most of Congress and the President, allowing a military junta to take over and strip women of their rights. For many unconnected reasons the human race ceases to be able to reproduce properly and the religious fanatics that have taken over create the handmaid class, whose sole purpose is to shut up, say nothing and procreate.

Yes, like all good SF The Handmaid’s Tale had a huge amount to say about society at the time (and even society in some Islamic countries now) but like all great SF it feels like it could have been written yesterday.

One of the all-time greats.