‘Speculative Slipstreaming’: The Impact of Literary Interventions within Contemporary Science Fiction

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Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson are two canonical writers participating in a ‘literary slipstream’ through their ventures into science fiction, creating crossover texts that confuse the boundaries between the literary and the popular. This interface is exemplified through the awards received by these writers, which help to bring literary credibility and integrity to the genre. Atwood’s first speculative novel, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), went on to win the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated for a Nebula award and the Booker Prize, whilst her MaddAddam trilogy (2003–2015) was followed by the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society in 2015. Winterson was awarded an OBE for her services to literature in the same year that she published The Stone Gods (2006), whilst her most recent novel Frankisstein (2019) was longlisted for the Booker Prize. This article explores the extent to which distinctions between the popular and the literary are reliant upon notions of inferiority and superiority, and the problematics of a desire to frame genre fiction according to perceived notions of literary value.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Early online date9 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2022


  • feminism
  • science fiction
  • literature
  • Literature and Cultural studies
  • popular culture
  • women's writing
  • literary marketplace
  • speculative fiction
  • Article
  • genre fiction
  • Jeanette Winterson
  • literary prizes
  • literary and popular
  • contemporary women’s writing
  • Margaret Atwood


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