Beyond The Handmaid’s Tale: Feminist Dystopia & Utopia

We always love it when worthwhile, interesting books are adapted to film or TV, as it invariably means that a multitude of readers will be drawn to the source. As sales figures and waiting lists and libraries attest, this has been quite a year for Margaret Atwood’s landmark 1985 dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale, owing largely to the recent Hulu series, as well as the current political climate. If you’re waiting for a copy – or if you’ve already read it – why not tap into the diverse tradition of feminist science fiction that explores gender and society in provocative and visionary ways.

Continue reading “Beyond The Handmaid’s Tale: Feminist Dystopia & Utopia”

Omar El Akkad, author of American War, on reading and the radical act of empathy

Our guest blogger Omar El Akkad has been garnering rave reviews for his powerful, thought-provoking debut novel, American War. Set during the Second American Civil War of 2075, American War lays bare our own fractured cultural and political existence in a dystopian fantasy that rings all too true for many others struggling in war-torn places of the world. Today he shares three books you probably haven’t read, and why you should. El Akkad will be appearing on Monday, April 17 at the Elliott Bay Book Company. Catch his recent NPR Interview.

Empathy, which these days feels more and more like a radical act, has become as of late the primary criterion for inclusion in my reading list. More than beautiful writing or technical merit or imaginative flair, I find myself most urgently in need of fiction’s ability to transpose, to immerse me in the thick of strangers’ lives. In this isolationist era, run and overrun by men whose worldview relies on exclusion and deliberate unknowing, it seems an obligation to seek out writing that chronicles other cultures, other histories, other lives. Continue reading “Omar El Akkad, author of American War, on reading and the radical act of empathy”

The World Ends Today at 12:05

We’ve had hundreds of murders, scores of heists and scams, repeated instances of paranormal activity, and even a bit of cannibalism. Yet is rare that we’ll destroy an entire planet. But during Thrilling Tales: A Storytime for Grown Ups starting at noon today, we just might manage it. In world-end-cropH.G. Wells’ 1897 story The Star, a mysterious mass from outer space crashes into the planet Neptune, gradually unleashing a chain reaction that at first dazzles, and then terrifies a waiting world. Will all mankind perish in a cataclysmic fireball? You’ll have to stop by the Central library today at noon to find out!

Now in its twelfth year, Thrilling Tales typically happens two Mondays a month at the Central Library. Continue reading “The World Ends Today at 12:05”

Science Fiction Fridays: Three picks for the dystopia hungry reader

flash point kressFlash Point by Nancy Kress
With the United States in a permanent recession, Amy is forced to participate in a reality television show where she is never sure if the dangerous threats are real or manufactured. Fast-paced and smart science fiction that manages to be gritty and frighteningly believable in its portrayal of the future. Continue reading “Science Fiction Fridays: Three picks for the dystopia hungry reader”

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine…

I most often read non-fiction; stories about societies or individuals in times of strife, war, anarchy, disease, and pestilence. I am often humbled by the civility and dignity that these individuals and groups maintain when the proverbial ca-ca has hit the fan.  As for fiction, there seem to be many dystopian pieces of work out there that often depict chaos, death, and destruction. And it seems to me that often these are admired or worshipped by a mentality that wishes this was the reality. Comparatives of that norm would be to look at Darfur or Rwanda and ask why one would be happy in that dystopia. Is there something to prove in sinking to the lowest common denominator? Here are a couple of titles that go against that norm.

Continue reading “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine…”