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In the Guardian:

Margaret Atwood's latest novel, Oryx and Crake , is not, she insists, "science fiction" but "speculative fiction". It is a distinction she has also made about her earlier dystopian book, The Handmaid's Tale (1985), currently being staged as an opera in London.
"Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen," she explains. Her work is always researched: Oryx and Crake, a novel blending a biological apocalypse with a genetically engineered genesis, acknowledges a number of personal debts in terms of research and background, but also scrupulously offers a list of documentary sources at a web address.


And then there's the Radio 4 review, from people who clearly have never read any other science fiction. Or paid attention to science news for the last five years.
 
 
 
 
 
 
She's the annoying woman who always talks about her work beng "speculative fiction" isn't she? I'm sure she's annoyed me in the past :/
who used to do the same thing, when she lived
I thought you were into the concept of speculative fiction, as opposed to science fiction.
But only the Niall definition of spec fic!

I think it's more the dismissal of science fiction as "monsters and spaceships" which to me feels like a writer embarassed to be writing scifi.
no great book has ever been written about monsters or spaceships.

Exercise. Name ten for each.

SciFi Pride!
In the Harrison Classification (which is, of course, the One True Classification), science fiction is a subset of speculative fiction. Atwood is using science fiction as a derogatory term. I don't like that.
The OUSFG conditioning clearly works!
Exactly. It doesn't flatter her in any way, and only serves to confirm stereotypes in the eyes of the literary establishment, not to mention the general, non-SF reading public. People who, if they like her books, would very, very likely enjoy a good deal of what SF has to offer.
where erotica is what I read, pornography what you read. Or everything I don't like. Or everything I'd rather didn't exist. Bloody ballocks, that's what it is. She'd probably argue that Frankenstein and 1984 aren't SciFi, too. Come on, hasn't gay rights taught anyone anything? You should reclaim the labels you fear, not deny them!

Silly people. I'm sure it's gone round journos that she hates her stuff being called Science Fiction, so they all try to mention it nowadays. Though I have to say that offering documentary sources to give yourself scientific validity is extrememly Sci-Fi behaviour, Margaret.

Also, is ayone else thinking, what, monsters and spaceships couldn't happen? Wow, mine that one for conspiracy theories.
That reminds me of the environmental scientists and policy wonks who dislike the term 'environmentalist' since they associate it with a bunch of protestors in trees.

It is derogatory, it is stupid, and it seems to be an entirely normal linguistic evolution.

The idiocy of distinctiveness perhaps?

(incidentally, Ra OUSFG conditioning!)

---
For an intelligent woman, she can be incredibly thick and small-minded.

"Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen"

Erm, spaceships, they do be existing. Monsters? That's more of a Fantasy spec. It's a view I might understand if we were talking about 1950's pulp SF, but good god, we've got through how many revolutions since then?

Her work is always researched: Oryx and Crake, a novel blending a biological apocalypse with a genetically engineered genesis, acknowledges a number of personal debts in terms of research and background, but also scrupulously offers a list of documentary sources at a web address.

..and again, read. more. scifi. I mean, seriously. Makes it sound as if SF authors just make things up as they go along, inventing things because they feel like it. There lies the realm of the Fantasy auteur.

Silly woman. Great author, will likely buy this but, but I'm still going to call 'The Handmaid's Tale' SciFi (of sociological ilk), and I strongly suspect this work will merrily sit in the same category.