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A Busy Year: Reviewing the Many Projects of Margaret Atwood

A man looking at a post apocalyptic landscape - Reviewing the many Margaret Atwood TV Adaptations

This year has seen word of multiple Margaret Atwood TV adaptations and an Atwood graphic novel!

Margaret Atwood’s certainly having a busy year. First, the release of her latest novel, Hag-Seed, a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Next, the realization of her childhood dream to become an illustrator in the form of Angel Catbird, a comic collaboration with Johnnie Christmas. Still to come are the various television adaptations of her work on the horizon, including The Handmaid’s Tale, the MaddAddam trilogy and The Heart Goes Last. In the midst of so many Margaret Atwood TV adaptations, there’s a lot of excitement and news coming through every day. We’re seeing a lot of Atwood action lately, as the prolific author continues to create incredible fiction for audiences the world over and her work seems to finally be converting to the screen – something fans have been waiting on for quite some time!

Angel Catbird

The first volume of Angel Catbird has been received with overwhelming positivity. Released in September, tweets have been flooding in with appreciation for this unlikely hero. It’s a story of Strig Feleedus, a genetic engineer who has an unfortunate accident as a result of his own experiments. He becomes known as Angel Catbird, a superhero like no other – he’s part cat and part bird. The conflict between these contrasting halves creates some serious identity issues for the protagonist, and much of the story plays upon issues of environmental conservation that are close to Atwood’s heart. The much-anticipated Volume 2 is due for release in February 2017, and Atwood spoke at London’s Southbank Centre recently of what it would contain: a developing romance with an unlikely creature and a few hard choices to make for dear old Angel Catbird. Tales of hard moral choices are never too far from Atwood’s writing, and this is no exception.

In creating this series, Atwood revealed wanting to explore the environmental concerns around stray cats and the damage they do to local bird populations. The series features scientific facts on the subject in the borders, interspersed with Atwood’s tale of action and adventure. Her collaboration with Johnnie Christmas, she said, came as a result of simply searching for a style of illustration she found aesthetically appealing. She speaks enthusiastically about the process of collaboration, confessing that she did not have the artistic prowess to complete the project herself.

This is just one of many upcoming goodies from the Atwood oeuvre; several of her much-loved novels are in the process of being adapted for the screen. As part of her London talk, Atwood described the process of adapting her work as deeply exciting, though she confessed having little to do with the creative processes involved in these adaptations. Directors, she said, are the experts. Her control is therefore limited as regards the output of any of the upcoming series, and she appears perfectly happy with this.

The Handmaid’s Tale

There are several Margaret Atwood back-catalogue adaptations in the works. Starting with Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood praised the scripts she has read so far. Elisabeth Moss is set to star as Offred, with Joseph Fiennes, and when asked if she made a cameo on set, Atwood replied, “Of course I did!” As to a more concrete release date, however, there are no further clues, but filming is well and truly underway.

In the light of the recent election outcomes in the US, Atwood took to Twitter to denounce the results, and fans have been reiterating the relevance of the Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian concept that is very much at home with recent politics. Retweets abound as the Handmaid Tale’s dystopic view of a future in which women’s rights are sharply curbed feel closer to reality than ever. A pertinent story for today, despite being published about 30 years ago!


Next up is the MaddAddam trilogy, which was in the works with HBO. Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky has been at the helm of the project, directing the adaptation. The trilogy consists of Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.

Unfortunately, recent reports have suggested that this has been delayed indefinitely, with HBO letting the project slide for unclear reasons. Fans and Atwood alike remain confident, however, that the series will find another home elsewhere, and not all hope is lost on this front.

The much-loved series has already been long in script development and appears by all accounts to be ready to get onto filming, though no names are currently attached to star – at least not in any official sense – leaving fans in suspense as to the fate of this much-loved series.

Atwood has been a consulting producer on this one and has said that she has been at home with giving up the writing reigns to Eliza Clark. Here’s hoping that the project will get the green light elsewhere, bringing the much-loved books to screens soon. When asked about the project, Atwood would say only that she trusted Aronofsky’s vision, and was confident in the right people being attached to the project.

The Internet Review of Science Fiction attempted, via an algorithm, to pin down the differences between male and female science fiction writers. They discovered, with nearly 90% accuracy, that, “Gender division in writing and reading thus comes down to tendencies, not absolutes. Men more often concern themselves with actions, ideas, and analysis. Women more often concern themselves with processes, perceptions, and implications.” That being said, it only makes sense that female science fiction writers devastate our perceptions of reality and rebuild the implications of our future. [Click here to read more…]

The Heart Goes Last

Finally, we have The Heart Goes Last, which has been picked up by MGM. We covered news about The Heart Goes Last being picked up for adaptation, and so far there appear to be no big disruptions to the course of this project – though it is very early days yet. Rights were settled upon only a few months ago, making this production only in the very earliest stage of development.

Final Thoughts

With so much work on its way to finding a new audience on television, you might think Margaret Atwood is ready to rest on her haunches for a while between novels. Not so it seems, as the deadpan soon-to-be 77-year-old revealed she is as bursting with ideas as ever, and fans eagerly await new Margaret Atwood film adaptations to come. Her passion for the environment, equality, and concerns for the future of humankind continue to prove fruitful topics of dissection.

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