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  • Canadian writer Margaret Atwood speaks during an interview at a hotel in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 8, 2017.

    Canadian writer Margaret Atwood speaks during an interview at a hotel in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 8, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

"It's always a terrible idea for women when civil rights themselves get smashed, unless you take the view that women aren't human beings," Atwood said.

Margaret Atwood did not have any creative control over the latest adaptation of her dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale," but she was very clear what she didn't want.

"That they not make a sort of soft porn film called 'Maidens in Leather' or something, which has always been a temptation to certain kinds of filmmakers," the Canadian author told Reuters.

First published in 1985, "The Handmaid's Tale" imagines a totalitarian near future when fertile women are forced into sexual servitude in a bid to repopulate a world facing environmental disaster. Women are forbidden to read, cannot control money and are forced to wear modesty clothing. Everyone spies on everyone.

Thirty years on, the new TV miniseries for Hulu, premiering April 26 and starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred, seems relevant.

Atwood, 77, calls it one of her "speculative fiction" novels but said every scenario was drawn from real events — from Puritan society to environmental pollution, infertility, the fight for women's rights, the Cold War, book burnings and slavery.

Even so, the premise of "The Handmaid's Tale" seemed far-fetched in 1985. "It seemed preposterous even to me. But I don't mean to say it was preposterous. I didn't think it was going to happen in that moment," she said.

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