If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen
March 11, 2017 11:08 AM   Subscribe

 
" “It can’t happen here” could not be depended on: Anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances...In the book, the Constitution and Congress are no longer: The Republic of Gilead is built on a foundation of the 17th-century Puritan roots that have always lain beneath the modern-day America we thought we knew." That's unsettling.

In case you'd like to talk about the book itself as well, there's a FanFare post on The Handmaid's Tale here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:22 AM on March 11, 2017 [8 favorites]


Margaret Atwood's AMA on reddit of a few days ago is awesome context for this. She's sharp (for someone who claims to be "screaming old") and funny as hell:

To the old saw: "would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized horses?"

mm. Good question. Are the ducks dead ducks, or are they alive? Are they Zombie Ducks? Is the horse a Pale Horse? Maybe not enough information here. I think I'd pick the hundred duck-sized horses. Easy to stampede, no? ("Scram, ducks!" Opens and closes an umbrella very fast. That's worked for me in the past, against those weeny ducks.)

And she has some very positive things to say about the new adaptation. And some interesting insights as to its modern meanings.
posted by bonehead at 11:28 AM on March 11, 2017 [25 favorites]


If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen.

That jumped out at me because I've had a memory knocking around in my head all through the last US campaign, of her giving a radio interview and at a point, asking if we needed something like "reverence" towards the unknowable ramifications of any creative act and wondering ...maybe we should all be careful of the stories we tell?
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:42 AM on March 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen.

If only. I have no idea how to pull together the odd bits of detail about bullying and why the wretched people do wretched things to others but it really seems like a certain subset of the population, call them [something]-paths or just baddies, just DON'T CARE.

So one real worry about stories like these is that they are a template on how to construct the world that is a benefit to "them".
posted by sammyo at 12:14 PM on March 11, 2017 [5 favorites]


I always find it a little depressing to go back and read some of Atwood's stuff as it's very prescient and I find myself thinking "well she was right about that..." and then the world ends in the book and it's all "oh shit."
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 12:17 PM on March 11, 2017 [13 favorites]


There is often a point in a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel where a character reflects on a moment when they were blissfully unaware of the horror to come but there were warning signs they missed at the time. I often wonder what the warning signs are that I am missing right now (and whether the things I think are warnings really are).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:37 PM on March 11, 2017 [53 favorites]


I originally read HANDMAID'S TALE as a parable of the Reagan administration. Little did I expect things could get even worse, and more like this work of 'fiction.' And for anyone worried about how reality is coming to resemble her 30+ year old book, you definitely don't want to read her ORYX & CRAKE.
posted by twsf at 1:11 PM on March 11, 2017 [17 favorites]


Little did I expect things could get even worse

If there's one fundamental truth that applies across all time and space, it's that It Can Always Get Worse.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:29 PM on March 11, 2017 [19 favorites]


I often wonder what the warning signs are that I am missing right now (and whether the things I think are warnings really are).

Been on the internet in the last five years?
posted by happyroach at 1:58 PM on March 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well, these days I feel like everything is a warning, but I'm hoping I'm wrong about at least some of that....
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2017


It Can Always Get Worse.

If you're a conservative, you can point to the World Map of Misery and say, "at least we're doing better better than..." *squints* "...Myanmar!"
posted by klanawa at 2:37 PM on March 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


So one real worry about stories like these is that they are a template on how to construct the world that is a benefit to "them".

Somehow, I don't think the Bannons of this world are big SF readers, let alone Atwood. We're probably safe as we ever were, for what little that is worth.
posted by corb at 3:15 PM on March 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


It is those who cannot see the difference between Dystopian and Utopian SF you have to worry about. Not a lack of vision but an incredibly distorted one.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:36 PM on March 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


Atwood has made clear that everything depicted in THT had happened somewhere in the world at the time of her writing it.

Preet Bharara has just been fired after refusing to resign. 2 months ago all US ambassadors were ordered home when protocol had been for those with schoolage children could stay until classes had ended.

Why isn't the UN stepping in?

there's also a base in Switzerland
posted by brujita at 3:50 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Somehow, I don't think the Bannons of this world are big SF readers, let alone Atwood.

You've not been following the backstage drama of the Hugo awards for the last few years, have you?
posted by belarius at 4:34 PM on March 11, 2017 [16 favorites]


corb: Bannon is an avid sci-fi reader. He lost millions in a World of Warcraft gold mining scheme:
http://www.avclub.com/article/steve-bannon-used-be-ceo-world-warcraft-gold-farmi-250081

He reads and recommends:
Mencius Moldbug
Camp of the Saints
And Nick Land

Gird yourself for the descent into madness and evil that lies therein.
posted by Freen at 4:51 PM on March 11, 2017 [7 favorites]


Preet Bharara has just been fired after refusing to resign. 2 months ago all US ambassadors were ordered home when protocol had been for those with schoolage children could stay until classes had ended.

Why isn't the UN stepping in?


Because, like it or not, both of those shitty acts are entirely legal and within the authority of the President, and only practicality and not being a total asshole allowed the churn of US Attorneys and Ambassadors to take months-to-years in the removal previous political appointees for a new batch.

So think about all of the things that this administration can do that are entirely legal, impractical AND assholish, and you'll win a lot of bets.

Add things that are illegal and require a Congress with a spine to prevent or punish, and you'll win a lot more, but dismissal of US Attorneys and Ambassadors is in the first list.
posted by tclark at 4:59 PM on March 11, 2017 [11 favorites]


There is often a point in a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel where a character reflects on a moment when they were blissfully unaware of the horror to come but there were warning signs they missed at the time. I often wonder what the warning signs are that I am missing right now (and whether the things I think are warnings really are).

Sometimes I feel like we're all here right now.
posted by delfin at 5:18 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


You've not been following the backstage drama of the Hugo awards for the last few years, have you?

...I had forgotten about the existence of Vox Day because the rest of the world was so terrible.

Man it sure would be nice to have an untainted place to retreat to for respite right about. Ahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahaha. *sob*
posted by corb at 6:41 PM on March 11, 2017 [6 favorites]


I just checked to see if The Handmaid's Tale was available at my public library. All 53 copies are checked out, 84 holds in the waiting list. That says something about the current state of things.
posted by peeedro at 6:55 PM on March 11, 2017 [29 favorites]


Hulu's got handmaidens walking around SXSW right now to advertise the upcoming series.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 8:11 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


As a former WoW player, I am not surprised Bannon was part of it. I often wished for gold farmers to die of Ebola or some other disease. Now he's bringing the toxic cheater mentality to my government. Great. Can I report him to the mods?
posted by freecellwizard at 9:47 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


...I had forgotten about the existence of Vox Day because the rest of the world was so terrible.

Well at some point, Trump is going to need a new press secretary...
posted by happyroach at 10:44 PM on March 11, 2017


Biographer, surely.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:12 PM on March 11, 2017


Atwood has made clear that everything depicted in THT had happened somewhere in the world at the time of her writing it.

This article about Romanian women being raped and treated as slaves on farms in Sicily makes for some tough reading. And it is happening today. Right now
posted by Myeral at 9:35 AM on March 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


If there's one fundamental truth that applies across all time and space, it's that It Can Always Get Worse.

"Cheer up," they said, "things could be worse!" So I cheered up, and sure enough, they were.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:31 PM on March 12, 2017 [5 favorites]




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