I see that there are a few The Handmaid's Tale questions on this site.

I have only seen the TV-series, not read the book, and I may recall incorrectly, but I am not aware of any supernatural or fantasy elements in the series. Nor do I remember anything not readily explained by current real-world technology.

Granted, the world the story is set in is rather bizarre, but I am not sure if it has any straight up fantasy or science fiction elements?

Correct me if I am wrong, I may remember incorrectly.

  • 2
    The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic example of speculative fiction which broadly speaking is what this site is all about.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:05
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    Duplicate of Are all utopias and dystopias on-topic?
    – Valorum
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:20
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    It's set in an alternate (dystopian) future. How much more fantastical do you want it to be?
    – Valorum
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:22
  • @Valorum I usually interpret "fantasy" to be something that is supernatural or not readily explained by modern day science, such as a ring making the bearer invisible, or a spell defying the laws of gravity, etc. I was not aware that this site had a different idea of "fantasy". Thanks for letting me know.
    – Fiksdal
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:25
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    @Revetahw - Quite a lot of our questions are about Speculative Fiction rather than Science Fiction or Science Fantasy (or just plain Fantasy Fantasy). All seem to be pretty welcome, except for Spy-fi which we tend to lump in with the Action genre..
    – Valorum
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:29
  • @Valorum I see. I had not noticed.
    – Fiksdal
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:32
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    Speculative fiction is technically the site scope, but Sci-Fi & Fantasy sounds cooler ;-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Sep 6, 2019 at 19:09

1 Answer 1


There are kinda 2 parts to the answer.

First, as a general rule we consider a work SF if it was written that way, even if real-world science has caught up to (and passed) it.

Secondly, a work set in a future society based on extrapolation of a possible societal trend is inherently science fictional. (Sociology is a science.) Were that not the case, 1984 wouldn't be SF. The same would be true of most post-nuclear-war stories, since in very few cases is the science more advanced than today's (frequently it has gone backwards) and it is simply the scenario itself that is being explored.

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