This should hopefully put all of those “Margaret Atwood hates science fiction and thinks it’s all just crap about giant squids” to rest. But then, the comments section (which seems to have disappeared in the meantime, because the Guardian website is having hick-ups, was full of the usual “Wah, she’s just an evil literary writer who hates SF and anyway Harlan Ellison/Philip K. Dick/Robert Heinlein/Insert SF writer of you choice here is much better anyway” stuff.
In fact, I am beginning to suspect that the infamous “giant squid” comment was probably just a misunderstanding. A couple of years ago, when I was working on my MA thesis, I tried to track down the source of the “giant squid” comment, because I was looking for the exact quote. However, while I found dozens of blogposts about how Margaret Atwood had said that she didn’t write SF, because SF was just about giant squids, the one thing I did not find was the exact quote or at least a link where that heretical statement might be found. The closest I came to finding a source was a post by Dave Langford who claimed to have heard the offending words in a BBC radio interview, which of course was no longer online by that point.
So did she really say what everybody believes she said? Was it just an unfortunate comment that slipped out due to the stress of being interviewed on radio? Did Dave Langford mishear or misunderstand her? We may never know.
However, the Guardian article as well as her new non-fiction collection In Other Worlds will hopefully help to clarify the relationship between Margaret Atwood and the science fiction genre.