“What they want is compliance. The opposite of disruptive.”
Margaret Atwood has become an avid consumer of startup technology: Twitter, Byliner, Wattpad, Medium – she’ll grab onto just about anything that she thinks may get more people reading or writing, with almost none of the fear or elitism the rest of the publishing industry of “haves” has.
And yet, dammmmmnnnnnn, has she written the most eviscerating novel of what some of the ugliest corners of the startup world could turn into if they continue unchecked.
Her knack for writing such cold dystopian narratives –mixing the borderline absurdity of a pet rakunk with “oh this shit could actually happen…” chickienobs chills – is why I can’t wait to interview her on stage at Pandoland next year. (Book your tickets here.) I mean, when Snopes has to investigate whether your greed-soaked, walled corporate campus, genetically modified fictional world is actually occurring already, you might be onto something more plausible than we’d like to think.
But that was the Oryx and Crake Trilogy. (Some of the best stuff written in modern fiction for my money, and a current project in development by HBO.)
Her new novel, The Heart Goes Last, continues the absurd-but-not-absurd-enough view of a world where investor greed goes unchecked and humanity suffers. This time she’s no longer aiming at the world of genetics, but so squarely at the worst parts of Silicon Valley culture to have popped up in recent years, it makes me actually squirm reading it. If she wasn’t already a fantastic guest to open a tech conference in 2016, she is now.