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Handmaid's Tale 
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:40 pm
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Post Handmaid's Tale
I've seen it suggested several times that Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale can be thought of as taking place in the same setting as "If This Goes On...". I've not read the Atwood book, so I have no opinion.

But it may be of interest that there will be a new video adaptation of the novel.


Sat Apr 30, 2016 9:12 pm
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Post Re: Handmaid's Tale
The blurbs on amazon.com make it seem that If This Goes On . . was the jumping-off place for The Handmaid's Tale. It's now on my list to buy from amazon.com

Thanks, BillMullins.

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Sun May 15, 2016 8:28 am
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Post Re: Handmaid's Tale
[Back after a busy week or two]

I'd say that both "If this Goes On..." and "The Handmaiden's Tale" are apocalyptic stories about takeover of the US government and society by extremist sects that are at least based on certain types of Fundamentalist Protestantism from the early 1900s Appalachian region and midwestern US. Heinlein's came first. The central characters and focus of the stories are quite different. Atwood's was on *women* and specifically one woman loosing her personhood, and then regaining it, despite her having forgotten much of her past and being enmeshed in the belief system at the beginning of the story. I find Offred, the Commander, *and* his wife all eminently believable and well-rounded characters. Her book ends with the main character's fate uncertain, throwing the book's focus squarely on the nightmare society it describes and not on what happens to that society.

Heinlein's book portrays a society that had lost its freedom due to fanatic fundamentalist religion, which he really loathed, *and* the successful revolt against that society and regaining of the lost freedom. It is IMHO not as written (heresy, I know) .:) It's also a lot less depressing; I'm not sure Heinlein had it in him to write a genuine dystopia, as Atwood did. I don't identify John Lyle to the same extent that I did with Offred, but since I'm female and never went to a military academy, this isn't surprising. Lyle's character seems to me to betaken from central casting -- the bright, innocent, handsome young eagle scout manifesting in the middle of a dark and thoroughly corrupt military priesthood serving an even more corrupt and nasty prophet. (If you've kept up with the news about the Mormon polygamous offshoot group the FLDS, think of the priesthood and police department run by it in Colorado City, Arizona/Hildale, Utah.) The books spends more time talking about the overthrow of the system than in exploring how people lived, adapted, and *felt* while under it.

I don't see either one as predictive of Donald Trump. by the way. Trump isn't either a true or false prophet. He is no sort of true believer in anything but Trump. He lacks the manipulation and acting skills to portray himself either as Nathaniel Scudder (a nasty but presumably believing prophet) or as the intelligent and corrupt Commander. Whatever you say about either Scudder or the Commander, they both showed *agency*. Trump like a lot of media stars reacts rather than acting; he's a projection of the desires of other people. Actress Lena Horne once said, about a small city that she found boring, "There's no *there* there." I've often thought that this comment applied better to certain people than to any city. It certainly makes me think of Donald Trump.

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Sun May 22, 2016 10:07 am
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Post Re: Handmaid's Tale
sakeneko wrote:
Actress Lena Horne once said, about a small city that she found boring, "There's no *there* there."


Ms. Horne may have said that, but I'm pretty sure the quote originates with Gertrude Stein, from her Everybody's Autobiography (1937), about the neighborhood in Oakland where she grew up.


Mon May 23, 2016 8:22 am
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Post Re: Handmaid's Tale
Probably correct. I can hear Horne speaking in her lovely, warm southern accented voice when she says it, but she certainly could be quoting somebody else. Oakland, California definitely doesn't fit the statement now and hasn't since the late 1980s; I lived in the SF Bay Area for two decades and spent quite a bit of time in Oakland. But it might have fifty years earlier.

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Sun May 29, 2016 11:20 am
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Post Re: Handmaid's Tale
I loved it. It's silly in places but seems plausible up to a point. The corrupt nature of the theocratic regime was killer. We recently saw "Purge: Election Year," which I enjoyed and portrayed some of the same dynamics. I had previously seen "The Purge," the first movie which focused on the killings. If you don't know, it's about our country (The U.S.) being under a regime which permits, for one night a year, free reign to murder and mayhem. Of course, most people huddle safely where they can. but the enthusiasts murder and rape with elan, while some fight the evil ones with equal force. I have not seen the second one, "Purge: Anarchy, " but now I want to. The ruling party calls itself "The New Founding Fathers," and their Presidential candidate is a Mitt Romney-looking jackass, but he could just as well have been a Donald Trump-looking jackass. I figure they made it back before the rise of Trump when it was presumed the Republicans would nominate another establishment type. Anyhow, "PEY" reminded me of both "the Handmaid's Tale" and "Revolt in 2100."


Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:10 pm
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Post Re: Handmaid's Tale
sakeneko wrote:
I don't see either one as predictive of Donald Trump. by the way. Trump isn't either a true or false prophet. He is no sort of true believer in anything but Trump. He lacks the manipulation and acting skills to portray himself either as Nathaniel Scudder (a nasty but presumably believing prophet) or as the intelligent and corrupt Commander. Whatever you say about either Scudder or the Commander, they both showed *agency*. Trump like a lot of media stars reacts rather than acting; he's a projection of the desires of other people. Actress Lena Horne once said, about a small city that she found boring, "There's no *there* there." I've often thought that this comment applied better to certain people than to any city. It certainly makes me think of Donald Trump.


This showed up in my inbox today, from a former work colleague, now an indie TropRock singer/songwriter of some success. I'm posting it here with permission. Trump himself may not be a Scudder analog, but...:

Quote:
I happened to be rereading an old Robert A Heinlein story ("If This Goes On") over the weekend. It's a tale of a future American Revolution against a theocracy, set in approximately the year 2100. In an afterword, Heinlein (in 1952) wrote the following:

"As for...the idea that we could lose our freedom by succumbing to a wave of religious hysteria, I am sorry to say that I consider it possible - I hope that it is not probable. But there is a latent deep strain of religious fanaticism in this, our culture; it is rooted in our history and it has broken out many times in the past. It is with us now; there has been a sharp rise in strongly evangelical sects in this country in recent years, some of which hold beliefs theocratic to the extreme, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-libertarian.

"It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and wil follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. (...)

"Could any one sect obtain a working majority at the polls and take over the country? Perhaps not - but a combination of a dynamic evangelist, television, enough money, and modern techniques of advertising and propaganda might make Billy Sunday's efforts look like a corner store compared to Sears Roebuck. Throw in a depression for good measure, promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti- Negroism, and a good large dose of anti-"furriners" in general, and anti-intellectuals here at home and the result might be something quite frightening."

He then talks in brief about his fictitious First Prophet, Nehemiah Scudder, who starts out as a "backwoods evangelist" who happens to come into a large amount of money when one of his supporters dies and leaves her fortune to him, after which he sets up a TV station (this before cable was envisioned). It talks about how he joined forces with an ex-Senator, and among other things they revive the KKK (apparently under another name; I guess even Heinlein couldn't predict the mainstreaming of those folks) until he won election as President. In 2012. "The next election was never held."

Given how long ago he established his "future history," it's scary that he may have only been four years off in predicting the rise of the alt-right and in *how it happens*...and one of the potential Scudders of our time will be a heartbeat away from the Presidency as of late January.

Some days, it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion, powerless to do anything to stop it.

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Loren Davidson - "Escape Artist"
Creating Paradise a little bit each day
loren@lorendavidson.com
http://www.lorendavidson.com

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Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:30 pm
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