Margaret Atwood's newest novel is The Heart Goes Last. From her Q & A with Mike Doherty at Salon:
In the Maddaddam books, a pandemic wipes out so much of humanity; you carefully set out the details, whereas in “The Heart Goes Last,” the reason for society’s collapse is rather vague.--Marshal Zeringue
I think we pretty much do know what it was — it’s the same thing that happened in 2008, so it’s a financial collapse rather than a physical [one]. People did end up on their front lawns and living in their cars, and that is apparently ongoing.
Do you see Positron/Consilience as a logical extension of current for-profit prisons?
The problem with for-profit prisons is that you need an endless supply of prisoners to make it profitable, so there’s no incentive to make it such that criminality is actually reduced. Ultimately you want more criminality; at the very least, you want to be able to define criminality in such a way that enough people get put in prison so you can make a profit out of them. There’s also a clause in the U.S. constitution that says you can’t use slave labor — except when convicted criminals are involved. So all of that is going on right now; [the book offers] just a little twist on it.
You write about people who have the power to change others’ lives by wiping out and changing data, which seems a relatively new development in literature —
Forgery is very old. Think of it as a new form of forgery. What you’re doing is altering perceived reality and substituting a false version of it, and that can have good uses. For instance, a lot of people wouldn’t have escaped Nazi Germany if...[read on]