The Handmaid's Tale.
Continuing my A-Z of author influences - both big and small - I've chosen The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood for the letter H. The Handmaid's Tale is a excellent piece of dystopian science fiction from a Booker Prize winning author. I have had the pleasure of by studying this novel as an A-Level student and then teaching it at A-Level to students. It is an excellent book - clever, relevant and shocking. Science Fiction usually proccupies itself with the concerns of the present rather than the future and The Handmaid's Tale seems terrifyingly possible. As well as being immensely popular and highlighting Margaret Atwood as both one of the most important authors - let alone science fiction authors - of our time, The Handmaid's Tale won The Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated for the Nebula Award, the Prometheus Award and the Booker Prize.
The Handmaid's Tale is a great science fiction story with something to say. It showed me what science fiction was capable of achieving: that although the popular tropes of the genre, like spaceships and interplanetary war, were important and immensely fun to write and read, they were not necessarily required to craft a skillful and engaging piece of science fiction. Highly recommended.
Other recommended science fiction by Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake
Similar science fiction by other authors:
The Children of Men - PD James
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
1984 - George Orwell