Margaret Atwood Twitter Q&A with Francesca Haig and fans

MG_5527.For those of you who were unfortunately living under a rock (or away from social media) this weekend, we’re delighted to tell you that our virtual festival #BFIVoyager was out of this world. We had some fantastic events across Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog, all of which sparked fascinating discussions about Sci Fi films and literature.

On Sunday night to cap it all off, one of our authors, the brilliant Francesca Haig, author of The Fire Sermon, got to ask Margaret Atwood some extremely thoughtful questions about Sci Fi and the role of women in the genre. After that, we opened up the discussion to the floor. Here are the results…

 


 

Francesca Haig Interviews Margaret Atwood

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@FrancescaHaig : Hello Francesca! #BFIVoyager

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood Thank you so much for taking part in #BFIVoyager and for answering questions today…

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood …with a focus on your recent story collection, STONE MATTRESS, and the MADDADDAM trilogy.

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood In STONE MATTRESS you mention mags ‘of the kind featuring semi-naked girls on the covers being leered at by Lizard Men’…

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig; As many have done! 🙂 #bfivoyager And as I once did myself. 🙂

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood …and you’ve chosen this selection of 1930s pulp mag covers, which illustrates it beautifully:…

B2lcFXSIcAAJ9Da

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood What strikes me immediately is how each woman is reclining – it’s like the women exist on their own axis of helplessness! …

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig #bfivoyager: Yes, they are rather prone.

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood #BFIVoyager How far do you think depictions of women have come in contemporary spec fic? Less prone, and in which ways?

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@FrancescaHaig #bfivoyager: +SciFi. I think women in these stories can be much more active; some can be protagonists;

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@FrancescaHaig: Of course many more women are writing SF than in the 30s, tho’ some wrote under noms de plume…

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig #BFIVoyager: But there’s still the problem, exemplified by the #gamergate fracas, of traditionalists wanting to keep tropes..

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig #bfivoyager… Such as the girl in the brass brassiere, etc.

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood And re. gamergate, you’ve been described as ‘Queen of the Nerds’, but her culture hasn’t traditionally been inclusive.

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@FrancescaHaig #bfivoyager: Well, @NerdettePodcast, Ursula K. LeGuin, Mary Shelley, Joanna Russ.. more! I’ve got some in In Other Worlds.

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood #BFIvoyager Le Guin sd re. yr rejection of the SFterm:‘She doesn’t want the lit. bigots to shove her into the lit. ghetto.’

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig: She was wrong about my motives+has since recanted.:) #bfivoyager I’m with the French: Livre d’anticipation not same as SciFi

 

Disophy ‏@Disophy 

@MargaretAtwood @FrancescaHaig Livre d’anticipation definitely sounds better than SciFi #bfivoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@Disophy @FrancescaHaig #bfivoyager: Either Lde A OR SF, for the French: L de A This Planet, Near Future, Possible. SF Other planets, etc

 

Francesca Haig‏@FrancescaHaig

@MargaretAtwood #BFIVoyager Why do you think ‘nerd culture’ (sf/fantasy/gaming) has become so much more mainstream in recent years?

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig: If they can’t get into the clubhouse, they make clubhouses of their own. #blogging #bfiVoyager Or they create 2nd identities

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@FrancescaHaig: There are a lot of smart people who like to try out ideas that way. @GreatDismal #bfivoyager And some of them are female.

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@MargaretAtwood #BFIVoyager You created the ‘NoPaino’ superhero for a twitter fan. What would your superpower be?

B2lfOf9IMAAPV55

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@FrancescaHaig #bfivoyager: My superpower would be controlling all other superpowers #LordoftheRings But I would abuse it, inevitably. 🙂

 

 

You can get your hands on Margaret Atwood’s latest book MADDADDAM now!

Get the free sampler and pre-order the full version of THE FIRE SERMON by Francesca Haig here!


 

Margaret answers your Twitter questions

 

 

HarperVoyagerUK ‏@HarperVoyagerUK 

I’m hoping @margaretatwood doesn’t mind if I #AskMA – which of your books do you think has had the most impact of women & why #bfivoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@HarperVoyagerUK :Most likely #thehandmaidstale. Poor things get taught it in school. But #oryxandcrake is creeping up…

 

 


 

 

Laline Paull ‏@LalinePaull 

@margaretatwood @francescahaig I wondered what you thought, if anything, about the psychic reach of social media.

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@LalinePaull @francescamain: Hello Laline: #bfiVoyager We make tech. Insofar as we have a spiritual dimension, we will want to include it.

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@LalinePaull @francescamain : #bfiVoyager So many stories with sentient robots, AI with soul… first Robot tale, RUR, turned on this…

 

 


 

 

Will Smith ‏@likewinterblue 

.@HarperVoyagerUK Which Canadian fantasy authors (past and present) would @MargaretAtwood recommend? #AskMA #BFIVoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@likewinterblue @HarperVoyagerUK: First is usually cited as MS Found in a Copper Cylander. Right now? So many…Search Canadian Sci Fi wiki

 

 


 

 

Whirlochre ‏@Whirlochre 

@HarperVoyagerUK @margaretatwood @mushenska #AskMA Should blank pages prompt empty minds, full ones, both — or neither?

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@Whirlochre @HarperVoyagerUK @mushenska: Best to let the mind drift a bit when in the beginning… IMHE #BFIVoyager

 

Whirlochre ‏@Whirlochre 

@MargaretAtwood @HarperVoyagerUK @mushenska “Drop into the pool” wins, then. Many thanks.

 


 

 

Elizabeth Lovatt ‏@ElizabethLovatt 

. @MargaretAtwood Toby’s perspective in Maddaddam as an older women seems a rarity – was this a conscious decision? #BFIVoyager #askMA

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@ElizabethLovatt: You betcha! :>} #bfivoyager But she’s not OLDER older.

 

Elizabeth Lovatt ‏@ElizabethLovatt  Glad to hear it – she’s a great character! RT @MargaretAtwood: @ElizabethLovatt: You betcha! :>} #bfivoyager But she’s not OLDER older.

 

 


 

 

 

Hector ‏@HectorHector502 

@HarperVoyagerUK @MargaretAtwood Just wondering where in the US we were chaining girls to bed to enforce births? #AskMA #BFIVoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@HectorHector502 @HarperVoyagerUK: Search @nytimes for Pregnant But No Civil Rights (approx) you’ll find a list. #bfiVoyager

 

Hector ‏@HectorHector502 

@MargaretAtwood @HarperVoyagerUK Yep…it’s worse than the Ottoman Empire around here. Thx for the warnings, Chicken Little.

 

 


 

 

 

Jordan Forward ‏@Jordan_forward 

@MargaretAtwood #AskMA #BFIVoyager @HarperVoyagerUK Are questions of ecology better answered through speculative fiction rather than sci-fi?

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@Jordan_forward: IMHO, yes, though there are a number of enviro-SciFi other- planet tales. But the problem is here+now, now. #BFIVoyager

 

 


 

 

 

Durudarshan Dadlani ‏@Durudarshan 

@BloomsburyBooks @TatteredCover @MargaretAtwood Glad to hear your books are being turned into movies. When do these come out on TV?

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@Durudarshan @BloomsburyBooks @TatteredCover #bfiVoyager: pilot script being written now. #maddaddam @DarrenAronofsky

 

Durudarshan Dadlani ‏@Durudarshan 

@MargaretAtwood @BloomsburyBooks @TatteredCover @DarrenAronofsky Wonderful. I look forward to seeing them on the screen.

 

Chris Roberts ‏@Chris767Roberts 

@MargaretAtwood @BloomsburyBooks @Durudarshan @TatteredCover @DarrenAronofsky Or a slow and torturous death, thanks Bad Witch of the North.

 

 


 

 

 

Emmi Itaranta ‏@emmi_elina 

@MargaretAtwood Have you ever considered writing a utopia instead of dystopia? Why yes/no? #AskMA #BFIVoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@emmi_elina: #bfiVoyager: it would be a challenge, especially after Nazis + Stalinists; both said they’d bring Utopia. Hah.

 

Emmi Itaranta ‏@emmi_elina 

@MargaretAtwood Completely agree. Also think utopia is difficult from storytelling perspective because it’s so static. Thanks!

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@emmi_elina: #BFIVoyager: You could have a #utopia, then disrupt it. #Giantcockroach

 

Emmi Itaranta ‏@emmi_elina 

@MargaretAtwood Yes, but then it’s not a utopia any longer, is it? I see a problem there… #Giantcockroach

 

Caroline Edwards ‏@the_blochian 

@MargaretAtwood @emmi_elina Utopia as a mode of (processual & piecemeal) political imagining has suffered as a result. #BFIVoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@the_blochian @emmi_elina : Maybe, but I think Reality drove the first nail. WW! WW2 etc.

 

Caroline Edwards ‏@the_blochian 

@MargaretAtwood @emmi_elina Of course – but it’s important to rescue utopianism from any conflation with Nazism and Stalinism! #BFIVoyager

 

Emmi Itaranta ‏@emmi_elina 

@the_blochian @MargaretAtwood Doubtless & sci-fi is in a unique position to explore utopian scenarios. Challenges remain, though.

 

Nerdette Podcast ‏@NerdettePodcast 

@emmi_elina @MargaretAtwood aren’t utopiae always really dystopian though?

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@NerdettePodcast @emmi_elina: #bfiVoyager: It’s yin/yang. Each contains a tiny version of the other. See In Other Worlds: SF + the Human etc

 

 


 

 

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

@HarperVoyagerUK @MargaretAtwood #AskMA It’s the curse of the dystopian author to see it come true. Pls can you write a humanist utopia?

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@FrancescaHaig @HarperVoyagerUK #bfivoyager: If the spirit strikes. Which it may not. >:>}

 

 


 

 

 

Kimberley Young ‏@kim28young 

I’d love to #askMA how much do you consider the social commentary when writing your novels? @HarperVoyagerUK @MargaretAtwood

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@kim28young @HarperVoyagerUK:We live in society. Any writer who writes it down is making a soc/comm, though the reader decides what kind.

 


 

 

Rosie Maynard ‏@rosie_maynard 

Another question. Crake says that mankind needs barriers from capital ‘N’ Nature and God. Do you agree? @MargaretAtwood #BFIVoyager #askMA

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

@rosie_maynard #bfiVoyager: Um, not really. I think our artistic/symbolic thinking/narrative platforms come with. + our biophilia.

 

 


 

 

Lindsay ‏@AntoniaLindsay0 

@HarperVoyagerUK @MargaretAtwood #askMA #BFIVoyager was O+C always a planned trilogy, did you have the end in mind from the start?

 

Margaret E. Atwood @MargaretAtwood

@AntoniaLindsay0 @HarperVoyagerUK: #bfiVoyager: Have to confess I didn’t initially plan 3. But did, right after end of #OC . Needed answers!

 

 


 

 

 

Emmi Itaranta ‏@emmi_elina 

@MargaretAtwood Completely agree. Also think utopia is difficult from storytelling perspective because it’s so static. Thanks!

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@emmi_elina: #BFIVoyager: You could have a #utopia, then disrupt it. #Giantcockroach

 

Emmi Itaranta ‏@emmi_elina 

@MargaretAtwood Yes, but then it’s not a utopia any longer, is it? I see a problem there… #Giantcockroach

 

Jose Casal ‏@jose_casal 

@margaretatwood @emmi_elina Reminds me of Asimov’s robot worlds. Utopian societies turned into dystopian settings through social stagnation

 

 


 

 

 

Natasha Bardon ‏@NatashaBardon 

@MargaretAtwood What are characters in a dystopian world striving for? Is it utopia? #BFIVoyager #AskMA

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@NatashaBardon: #BFIVoyager: That’s what they always SAY. Really they are striving for power (theirs). What else is new eh?

 

 


 

 

 

HarperVoyagerUK ‏@HarperVoyagerUK 

So, our time is up. Can I please thank @margaretatwood for joining us. You are a huge inspiration to us all. Just wonderful. #bfivoyager

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood

@HarperVoyagerUK : #BFIVoyager Lots of fun for me + lovely that so many young people are interested in this area of lit. (Twinkly old smile)

 

 


 

 

 

Margaret E. Atwood ‏@MargaretAtwood 

Bye bye… #BFIVoyager @HarperVoyagerUK @francescahaig Youse guys + gals all…

 

Francesca Haig ‏@FrancescaHaig 

A big thank you to the incomparable @MargaretAtwood for answering questions tonight. #BFIVoyager

 

Natasha Bardon ‏@NatashaBardon 

Thank you so much @MargaretAtwood and @FrancescaHaig for a brilliant Q&A! #BFIVoyager #AskMA

 

 

 

 

Other Articles

Introducing Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

When I sat down to write Kingdom of Souls many years ago, I was terrified. Growing up, I desperately searched for characters in books who looked like me and was always disappointed to find none. I loved reading stories where kids saved the world, tamed dragons, wielded magic, flew… Read More

Welcome to Rilpor, please enjoy the stabbing! by Anna Stephens

On 5 September 2019, the third book in my Godblind Trilogy will be published. Godblind, Darksoul and Bloodchild chart the story of an epic, world-changing and god-killing war of conquest and religious zealotry, not just between the neighbouring kingdoms of Rilpor and Mireces, but between the Gods… Read More

The End of a Trilogy by Anna Smith Spark

Five years ago I sat down and started writing a scene of violence. Men in the desert. Heat. Sunlight. Battle. A hero with a terrible flaw in him. A story emerged, fully formed, pouring itself out of me, a whole world and its history there in my head, love and… Read More