To promote her new novel MaddAddam, author Margaret Atwood did a Reddit AMA, where she also talked about some of her other books, teaching, reading, science, culture and her life. The following are a few excerpts from that appearance.


Maybe an odd question but one that interests me: have you written anything that you now regret?

Several letters :)

What are your thoughts on the current popularity (which is perhaps on its way out) of dystopian novels, especially in the Young Adult genre?

Lots of thoughts on that! I wrote Oryx and Crake before this wave set in, but there were a number in the 20th C. However, turn-of-century often causes folks to wonder where we're going, and how they themselves might behave if they find themselves in a bad version of There. And Climate Change and the resulting storms and floods, and the threats to the biosphere.. young people are attuned to all of that.

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Do you view the dystopian world you created in the Maddaddam trilogy to be a cautionary tale or a an inevitable conclusion?

There is no THE future. There are many possible futures. So, more like a cautionary tale or an exploration of possibilities or what Ursula K LeGuin calls a Thought Experiment.

Hi, I’m a high school English teacher in Northern California who is rolling out a unit featuring The Handmaid’s Tale—we’re starting Thursday! My question: What would you say to a group of students from an affluent community weaned on science and technology to convince them of the enduring relevance of the novel? Thank you so much for your consideration; it’s been an amazing learning and professional experience teaching your novel—my students brought this ama to my attention and I couldn’t be more thrilled at the opportunity as well as the timing!

As they already know some science, show them some brain-science and evo-devo studies - folks studying the inherent human story-telling "platform." We tell stories because we're human. The novel appears to be the most brain-intensive media form - second only to being there.

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One time I looked through all your books with a word search thing and found that every time you use the word 'football' it's in association with some sort of oppression. Intentional?

As in "Kicked around like a football?" I never noticed this but thanks for pointing it out. I must look. I've also been asked about the frequency in my work of bathtubs, glass jars, eggs, and mauve; and, more recently, maroon.


The remainder of the AMA is available on Reddit.
To make for easy scrolling, appearances of her username are in blue.

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(h/t @VioletGatesy on Groupthink)