Review: Handmaid’s Tale

handmaid_taleMy journey through dystopian literature comes to an end this month. My next writing project has nothing to do with the end of the world or evil corporations taking control of the government or time-traveling reality shows so maybe things will look a little more cheery from here on out.

My final dystopian novel is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. In the near future, a right-wing fundamentalist organization orchestrates the murder of the president and Congress after years of low birth rates due to pollution and mutated venereal diseases (go to college; they already exist). The fundamentalists take over the country and strip women of all their rights. They void all second marriages and make relationships outside marriage illegal. Women are recruited to become professional breeders for wealthy couples who are unable to have children…or go to labor camps. The options aren’t great.

Atwood describes the novel as “speculative fiction” rather than label it a science-fiction novel. It’s an accurate label considering the usual sci-fi elements don’t apply here (technology is barely even mentioned). It’s definitely an anti-right wing novel…to the max. Basically, according to Atwood, if the religious nuts were ever to take over, they’d strip women of all their rights, kill anyone who didn’t share their beliefs, and ship all minorities back to wherever they originated from (including Jews). For the record, she’s right. It would be a mess.

That’s basically the point of my novel, Dystopia. The Founding Fathers were wise to create separation between Church and State, but they should have gone further. They should have added a clause in there about the separation between State and Business. That’s the problem with the country now…it’s USA Inc. We mixed business and government and now we’re living in a burgeoning corporatocracy. Consumerism is our new religion.

But I digress. The best comparison I can make for this book is that it’s 1984 from Julia’s perspective. The writing is absolutely beautiful (it’s an Atwood novel, after all), but the message never gets lost in the beauty of the language. Even from the perspective of an oppressed Caucasian male who would certainly benefit from such a right-wing take0ver (the present age is certainly the worst age ever to be a white male), Atwood’s vision of the future is still terrifying. I’ll continue to do my part to avoid such a future by continuing to not go to church on a regular basis. Whatever it takes to support the cause…

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~ by themoderntranscendentalist on July 12, 2013.

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