So Okay, Let's Raise The Bar
"The uses of technology figure large in [Margaret Atwood's] new novel, The Year of the Flood; it is a richly imagined vision of the near-future and is a sister volume to an earlier Booker-shortlisted work, Oryx and Crake. Indeed, some of the characters overlap. Here, through the eyes of two female characters, Toby and Ren, we learn of the days that lead up to a horrible pandemic that ravages humanity – forget coughs and sneezes, here people melt. There is enviro-religion, overweening science, hideous sex clubs, nightmare food, grotesque cosmetic surgery. And there are also bees.I don’t see Sinclair McKay's silly, snobbish broadbrush generalisation as an insult. I see it as a challenge.
"If any of this were to come from a male sci-fi author, one’s heart might, perhaps, sink a little; we have never been short of fictional futuristic dystopias to choose from. But the prolific and acclaimed Atwood – she won the Booker in 2000 with The Blind Assassin and has been shortlisted on several other occasions – brings colourful humanity, formidable intelligence, and also some sly satirical humour to this vision. And, as with The Handmaid’s Tale, this is not sci-fi. It is, to use her term, “speculative fiction’’."
(Atwood isn't in any way to blame for this breathless panegyric - although I have to say that enviro-religon is hardly a new idea. Been there, done that. As have many others in the 'sci-fi' field. (Atwood has incoporated enviro-religion hymns in her novel. Spookily, there's a fragment (I wimped out on writing an entire hymn; kudos to Atwood for going the whole hog - and giving a book tour with actors and choir!) of an enviro-religion hymn in Gardens of the Sun - set to Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy'. No melting people, though. So 1970s.))