“I think everybody alive is interested in the future,” she says, before adroitly turning the question back to me. “Tell me,” she asks. “How old are you?”
When I reply that I’m approximately half her age, she laughs again.
“So a lot of the things in my books are going to be your problems. They’re not my problems because I will be dead. So maybe I’m writing my books for you. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?”
So if Oryx and Crake is anything to go by, I have a future beset by freak weather, strange genetically modified animals and, eventually, the collapse of civilisation. Great.
“People ask if they’re cautionary tales,” Atwood surmises. “And, yes, they are. Any dystopia is a cautionary tale. But I don’t relish the fact that they’ve become truer as I’ve got older. You don’t write books like these if you actually want them to become true.