War is what happens when language fails.
I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.
A word after a word after a word is power.
Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.
Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy - which many believe goes hand in hand with it - will be dead as well.
A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.
I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one 'race' - the human race - and that we are all members of it.
All fiction is about people, unless it's about rabbits pretending to be people. It's all essentially characters in action, which means characters moving through time and changes taking place, and that's what we call 'the plot'.
Heroes need monsters to establish their heroic credentials. You need something scary to overcome.
Our problem right now is that we're so specialized that if the lights go out, there are a huge number of people who are not going to know what to do. But within every dystopia there's a little utopia.
Reality simply consists of different points of view.
Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation. I don't think I solve problems in my poetry; I think I uncover the problems.
Every aspect of human technology has a dark side, including the bow and arrow.
Some people mistakenly think nature is very nice and benevolent and never betrays.
You're never going to kill storytelling, because it's built into the human plan. We come with it.
The thing about delirium is you think it's great, but it actually isn't.
Gardening is not a rational act.
Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
Science fiction, to me, has not only things that wouldn't happen, but other planets.
Every utopia - let's just stick with the literary ones - faces the same problem: What do you do with the people who don't fit in?
The society in 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a throwback to the early Puritans whom I studied extensively at Harvard under Perry Miller, to whom the book is dedicated.
There may not be one Truth - there may be several truths - but saying that is not to say that reality doesn't exist.
When I was 16, I started publishing all kinds of things in school magazines.
Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I'm a realist.
Social media is called social media for a reason. It lends itself to sharing rather than horn-tooting.
Religions in general have to rediscover their roots. In Hinduism and the Koran, animals are described as equals. If you walk into a cathedral and look at the decorations of early Christianity, there are vines, animals, creatures and birds thriving all over the stonework.
I'm a person of whim, and easily distracted. I don't like multitasking. When I'm doing one thing, I like to do just that thing.
An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness.
I'm a strict, strict agnostic. It's very different from a casual, 'I don't know.' It's that you cannot present as knowledge something that is not knowledge. You can present it as faith, you can present it as belief, but you can't present it as fact.
I hate to tell you this, but you will never actually go to a galaxy far, far away and encounter Darth Vader. That's science fiction; it isn't going to happen.
The object is very clear in the fight against racism; you have reasons why you're opposed to it. But when you're writing a novel, you don't want the reader to come out of it voting yes or no to some question. Life is more complicated than that.
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
If I waited for perfection... I would never write a word.
If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia.
The beginning of Canadian cultural nationalism was not 'Am I really that oppressed?' but 'Am I really that boring?'
You will always have partial points of view, and you'll always have the story behind the story that hasn't come out yet. And any form of journalism you're involved with is going to be up against a biased viewpoint and partial knowledge.
I was once a graduate student in Victorian literature, and I believe as the Victorian novelists did, that a novel isn't simply a vehicle for private expression, but that it also exists for social examination. I firmly believe this.
Canada was built on dead beavers.
If you're put on a pedestal, you're supposed to behave yourself like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.
Don't let the bastards grind you down.
Please don't make the mistake of thinking that 'Oryx and Crake' is anti-science. Science is a way of knowing, and a tool. Like all ways of knowing and tools, it can be turned to bad uses. And it can be bought and sold, and it often is. But it is not in itself bad. Like electricity, it's neutral.
A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there's less of you.
Vampires get the joy of flying around and living forever, werewolves get the joy of animal spirits. But zombies, they're not rich, or aristocratic, they shuffle around. They're a group phenomenon, they're not very fast, they're quite sickly. So what's the pleasure of being one?
If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.
I've never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It's probably because they have forgotten their own.
The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.
The threat to the planet is us. It's actually not a threat to the planet - it's a threat to us.
Genres aren't closed boxes. Stuff flows back and forth across the borders all the time.
I was warped early by Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allan Poe. I was very fond of Franz Kafka.
If social stability goes pear-shaped, you have a choice between anarchy and dictatorship. Most people will opt for more security, even if they have to give up some personal freedom.
Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.
Speculative fiction encompasses that which we could actually do. Sci-fi is that which we're probably not going to see.
When things are really dismal, you can laugh, or you can cave in completely.
Once you publish a book, it is out of your control. You cannot dictate how people read it.
You could tell 'The Handmaid's Tale' from a male point of view. People have mistakenly felt that the women are oppressed, but power tends to organise itself in a pyramid. I could pick a male narrator from somewhere in that pyramid. It would interesting.
If you feel that there's the author and then the character, then the book is not working. People have a habit of identifying the author with the narrator, and you can't, obviously, be all of the narrators in all of your books, or else you'd be a very strange person indeed.
Myths can't be translated as they did in their ancient soil. We can only find our own meaning in our own time.
There's a difference between describing and evoking something. You can describe something and be quite clinical about it. To evoke it, you call it up in the reader. That's what writers do when they're good.
If you're waiting for the perfect moment, you'll never write a thing because it will never arrive. I have no routine. I have no foolproof anything. There's nothing foolproof.
Their mothers had finally caught up to them and been proven right. There were consequences after all but they were the consequences to things you didn't even know you'd done.
This above all, to refuse to be a victim.
For years I wanted to be older, and now I am.
Time is compressed like the fist I close on my knee... I hold inside it the clues and solutions and the power for what I must do now.
If I pick up a book with spaceships on the cover, I want spaceships. If I see one with dragons, I want there to be dragons inside the book. Proper labeling. Ethical labeling. I don't want to open up my cornflakes and find that they're full of pebbles... You need to respect the reader enough not to call it something it isn't.
As soon as you have a language that has a past tense and a future tense you're going to say, 'Where did we come from, what happens next?' The ability to remember the past helps us plan the future.
Sooner or later, I hate to break it to you, you're gonna die, so how do you fill in the space between here and there? It's yours. Seize your space.
When I am writing fiction, I believe I am much better organized, more methodical - one has to be when writing a novel. Writing poetry is a state of free float.
Science is a tool, and we invent tools to do things we want. It's a question of how those tools are used by people.
My brother and I were both good at science, and we were both good at English literature. Either one of us could have gone either way.
I began writing at the age of 5, but there was a dark period between the ages of 8 and 16 when I didn't write. I started again at 16 and have no idea why, but it was suddenly the only thing I wanted to do.
Because I am a mother, I am capable of being shocked: as I never was when I was not one.
Popular art is the dream of society; it does not examine itself.
A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason.
You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer.
Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
The story as told in The Odyssey doesn't hold water. There are too many inconsistencies.
Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.
All fat women look the same; they all look 42.
I'm not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain political view.
As an artist your first loyalty is to your art. Unless this is the case, you're going to be a second-rate artist.
I tend to feel if people say they're going to do something, they will, if given the chance.
I don't think the relationship between novels and realities are one to one. Of course novels play different roles. It's essentially just a long narrative form. What you use that long narrative form for can be very different.
Our generation in the west was lucky: we had readymade gateways. We had books, paper, teachers, schools and libraries. But many in the world lack these luxuries. How do you practice without such tryout venues?
I got into trouble a while ago for saying that I thought the internet led to increased literacy - people scolded me about the shocking grammar to be found online - but I was talking about fundamentals: quite simply, you can't use the net unless you can read.
Reading and writing are connected. I learned to read very early so I could read the comics, which I then started to draw.
But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.
We shouldn't be saying 'Save the planet'; we should be saying: 'Save viable conditions in which people can live.' That's what we're dealing with here.
I'm the only person you've ever met who has read Longfellow.
I'm bad at picking heroes.
I grew up in the golden age of Flash Gordon and sci-fi.
I grew up with the biologists. I know how they think.
I have a big following among the biogeeks of this world. Nobody ever puts them in books.
Canada is a balloon-puncturing country. You are not really allowed to be an icon unless you also make an idiot of yourself.
I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.
I learned to read very early so I could read the comics, which I then started to draw.
Victorian literature was my subject at Harvard.
I grew up in the north woods of Canada. You had to know certain things about survival. Wilderness survival courses weren't very formalized when I was growing up, but I was taught certain things about what to do if I got lost in the woods.
Foreignness is all around. Only in the heart of the heart of the country, namely the heart of the United States, can you avoid such a thing. In the center of an empire, you can think of your experience as universal. Outside the empire or on the fringes of the empire, you cannot.
If one of the arguments against eating meat is to do with cruelty and animal intelligence, then lab meat avoids that. There's also the environmental argument for it.
Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.
Storytelling is a very old human skill that gives us an evolutionary advantage. If you can tell young people how you kill an emu, acted out in song or dance, or that Uncle George was eaten by a croc over there, don't go there to swim, then those young people don't have to find out by trial and error.