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Posts Tagged ‘handmaid’s tale’

Sarah Hoyt: Heinlein vs. Handmaid’s Tale

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2018

Have you read Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100? It’s part of his future history series (which you should read in its entirety, and which is, IMHO, the ne plus ultra of the science fiction genre). I haven’t read it in about 40 years (although I’ve reread some of his other future history stories since then). After reading Sarah Hoyt’s column contrasting it and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I think I’ll reread it. And I’ll continue to not read Atwood’s book and to not watch the Hulu series based on it (easy enough, since I don’t subscribe to Hulu and don’t intend to).

Hoyt’s column is impossible to excerpt in a way that does justice to it, so you just have to read the whole thing. But here’s the opening as a teaser:

I’ve been waiting for someone to accuse me of hypocrisy for liking Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100 (“If this goes on…”) and hating Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Mind you, I’m a libertarian which means being accused of hypocrisy is my bread and butter, and if it doesn’t happen at least twice a day I start feeling a little off.

The left, for instance, is fond of accusing me of hypocrisy for the stuff I write, since my moral and religious standing should not allow me to do that.  Not that I have a moral or religious stand (or rather I do, but often in a different direction from every other human being).  In other words, I’m often enough accused of hypocrisy for not matching their strawman of me, so that I expect to be accused of hypocrisy at the drop of a hat.

But there are substantive reasons why “If this goes on…”/Revolt in 2100 is a worthy contribution to speculative literature, while Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tail survives only by being mercilessly inflicted on school children by their progressive elders.  And the reasons go way beyond the fact that the blinkered Atwood refuses to be considered “speculative fiction” under the impression that science fiction is bug-eyed monsters ravishing beauties. (Yeah, she said that.  No, seriously.)  They even go beyond the fact that Robert A. Heinlein could spin a tale, while Margaret Atwood has the writing skills of a bad porn writer, easily matched by any of a dozen newby erotica writers on Amazon Lending Library who at least, most of the time, manage to make their porn titillating while she only manages to make hers stultifying.

The reasons are more substantive when you get to world-building and the nature of fiction.

Like I said, RTWT.

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