Margaret Atwood was a very insightful key lecturer. She was humorous, wise, and forthcoming in her knowledge. We were told in her introduction that she began writing at age six and was influenced by the writing of Edgar Allen Poe, who was himself a science fiction writer. She has been compared to Shakespeare in her past, saying their dark humor is much the same within their writing. Margaret answered five key questions throughout the lecture and the first focused on her reason for writing about zombies. She spoke about vampire stories representing the “good times,” when people feel wealthy and prosperous. She then described recreational rampage as a time for the authors to create the characteristic werewolf. Lastly, she admitted that zombies are written in times of turmoil. I think Atwood was clearly implying her worry for society now and in coming years. She speaks about the danger of not one zombie but rather a mass of them overcoming the larger population little by little. I thought this was an interesting parallel to how each individual is responsible for both the progress and the damage made here on Earth. She compared her work of zombies to that of Dracula or Frankenstein of the 19th century, which was taken as very mysterious for that time period.
Another question Margaret answered was whether or not there were other non-human monsters in her future stories. She describes two types of these “monsters,” known as Piguns and Crakers. The Piguns are just large forms of the pig that can grow human kidneys for transplant. What is so fascinating about this is that this is no longer fiction but reality. She joked about wanting to write the same thing about brain tissue transplant, but I could very plausibly see this occurring in the future. I think this kind of foreshadowing really sheds light into the wisdom of Margaret Atwood and her understanding of the capabilities of our society. The other animal, the Craker, was even more unique. It was a modern ideal of humanity. These creatures don’t need “stuff,” they don’t need land, they have built in sun screen, bug repellent, etc. They are all good looking with green eyes to reflect their creator, they are self-healing, vegetarians, season maters-but they cannot read or write. This is such an interesting component to this race considering the emphasis Atwood places on both of these. They also have a language which Atwood says will pose a problem in the future when they begin asking where they came from and soon enough, someone will have to tell them they do not have the answer. This seems like such an idealistic race Atwood has created here, and I wonder why it is she left them without the capability to discover the answer to their past through the use of reading and writing.
The last question Atwood answered was whether or not there is hope. Having not read her books before, I wanted to know the relevance of this question. She gave me a satisfying answer when she said there is always hope. Although broad, she said it is built into us as humans and it’s the reason our ancestors became extinct and we have not. She said there is no pre-determined future; “How you act now can affect the future- therefore, there is hope” (Atwood, 11/17/13). This was a powerful ending statement in my opinion and did a good job of symbolizing a hopeful attitude towards a genre of writing that may not always seem as such.