It has for some time been 'common knowledge' amongst SF fans that Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale is a prime example of the 'literary establishment' that derides SF and recoils in horror should you suggest that their work might fall within the remit of SF. This opinion seems to be based on various interviews Atwood has given, like this one from a few years back:
Now, quotes like that fairly make my blood boil, because it looks exactly like the worst kind of literary snobbishness: SF is ray guns and spaceships, and serious fiction can't possibly work that way! Not to mention that extrapolation from and twists on existing society are exactly what SF do best...But then I came across this review of Ursula Le Guin, written by Atwood, in which she says the following:
Quibbles about her top-level definition (I'd go for 'speculative fiction' as the bridging term, with the various science fiction and fantasy subgenres nested below that) and the vaguely pejorative use of the word 'proper' aside, she actually seems to have gained a fairly mature understanding of the genre, its scope and what it is about. A charitable man would even suggest that what appears in the early interview to be disdain for science fiction comes not from disdain, but merely from the application of what was initially an overly narrow definition of the term.
Disclaimer: concerns about the validity of classification by genre are left for a subsequent discussion, or possibly as an exercise for the reader. :-)
This page was written by Niall Harrison.