In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher, Aldous Huxley. Open Culture has more.
[Margaret Atwood:] So I went to Harvard and became a nineteenth century specialist. You get to read a lot of utopias. They thought everything was going to get better and better. We didn’t get dystopias until the twentieth century.
That’s fascinating. Does that connect to what you said recently, that now isn’t the time for realistic fiction?
What I said was, it’s hard to write really realistic fiction, unless you pretend that nobody watches TV, or is on the internet. To make it plausible, people would have phones. Things get arranged differently. It’s not as easy as it was when reality was more static. Think of Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, The Circle—is it predictive, or is it of the moment in which he wrote it? It has to be the latter, because there isn’t any “the future.” There’s an infinite number of possible futures, and we don’t know which one we’re going to get. So I say, write plausible fiction. The reader has to believe it. (more…)