Suspend Your Disbelief

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Margaret Atwood's book tour / fundraiser / theatre piece

yearoffloodTo promote her new novel, The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood will be touring five countries and thirty-five cities, performing staged readings with trios of local actors who will also sing some of the book’s original hymns (set to music). A number of these events will also serve as fundraisers for BirdLife International. Here’s the author’s own take on the project (via the Times Online), and you can follow the tour’s progress on her blog and Twitter. Atwood gracefully owns “book tour overkill,” joking that “[t]wittering, or is it tweeting?” is actually quite “appropriate for a bird-saving project!”

In a video chat interview with Sinclair McKay at the Telegraph, she discusses the importance of how new technologies are used and who controls them — major themes in The Year of the Flood:

Science is finding stuff out about the material world. And technology is the tools that we make. The tools would be quite different if we were giant intelligent spiders. Making bigger and better domesticated webs, for instance. Making things that spiders like. In terms of things we make, we make these tools because we are the kind of beings that we are. […] The nature of the tool can change how we live – for instance, I’m sitting here at 6am in Toronto talking to you over broadband. In earlier eras, I would have written something in cuneiform on wet clay and had it delivered to you on horseback. The tool is morally neutral. It’s not a case of ‘is science telling us the truth, or is technology bad?’ I’m more sceptical about human nature. Who is in charge of those tools? Who is putting those CCTV cameras up all over the UK? Whose hands are on the tools?’ […] Art and religion – and particularly narrative – are wired in. Evolved adaptations. So our ability to tell stories, our ability to picture things, all evolved during very, very many – extremely many – generations. It would have had an evolutionary edge. Invention is part of that package.

Nisi Shawl describes the book — which other reviewers have been calling a sequel to Oryx and Crake — as a “complement” to the earlier dystopic novel; the new book picks up shortly after the other ends, but this one is narrated by two female characters. The U.S. edition (Knopf) is available for pre-order and will be released on Sept. 22; in the meantime, an excerpt is available.

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