Book for July 2018
The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel first published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred. Her name derives from the possessive form "of Fred", meaning slave of Fred: handmaids are forbidden to use their birth names and must echo the male, or master, whom they serve. The novel's title refers to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, a series of connected stories ("The Merchant's Tale", "The Parson's Tale", etc.). In Atwood's book Offred's tale connects the other handmaids' tales. The 'night' sections are solely about Offred, the other sections (shopping, waiting room, household, etc.) narrate any handmaid's life, though from the perspective of Offred. Offred as the narrator jumps between past and present as she tells the present and retells the events leading up to the fall of women's rights.
The Handmaid's Tale won the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. The book has been adapted into a 1990 film, a 2000 opera, and a 2017 television series which is currently in its second season.
Atwood is also the inventor, and developer, of the LongPen and associated technologies that facilitate the remote robotic writing of documents. She is the Co-Founder and a Director of Syngrafii Inc. (formerly Unotchit Inc.), a company that she started in 2004 to develop, produce and distribute the LongPen technology.She holds various patents related to the LongPen technologies.