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Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood.

October 2, 2013

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood.  Anchor (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 389 page. (First published 2003.)

A brilliant novel by a revered author about a near future in which genetic engineering has run amok.

In the 1980s, Canadian author Margaret Atwood gave us The Handmaiden’s Tale, a chilling story of a time in which women had been reduced to being baby producers (a story with particular relevance today as leading politicians are attempting just that.)  Now she has given us a similar narrative, the first volume of her Madadams trilogy.

Snowman, the principle character in Oryx and Crake, stumbles around a world almost destroyed by genetic tinkering; a world in which he may be the only human being left.  Alternating chapters tell of Snowman’s memories of his former life as Jimmy, growing up as a lonely boy in a world rather like our own.  In the process we slowly realize what has happened to destroy that world, and how Jimmy himself was involved in that destruction.  The story is both humorous and chilling.

Atwood is a fine writer, at times one of the best writers today.  She is certainly one of the most inventive, and here her imagination is allowed full play as she fills her book with various creatures produced by gene splicing; the pigloons—combinations of pig and baboons, rakunk—raccoon and skunks, and snats—snakes and rats.  Yet the plot is fast-moving and tense, keeping readers eager to know what happens next.  Jimmy/Snowman is all too human, basically a loner, devoted to the one person who has ever befriended him.

I heartily recommend Oryx and Crake to all.  This book was widely reviewed and acclaimed when it was first published.  I am just now actually reading it. I am glad my daughter gave it to me for my birthday.   I am glad to know that I have the other two books in the trilogy ahead of me.

For a similar speculative novel of our near future, read The Swan Book, by Australian Alexis Wright.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2013 7:22 pm

    As you know, Maddaddam has just been published – the third in the trilogy; this series is not, I confess, my favourite, but Atwood is extraordinarily prescient…. on another note, I hope you don’t mind but I have reblogged your reblog today: I am a great Dandicat fan, and this is also a homage to your blog, MD!

    • October 5, 2013 10:05 am

      Dina,

      Yes, I had seen that Maddadam was out. I was disappointed with The Year of the Flood and may not bother with it. My experience with Atwood’s books is definitely mixed, but I did like O and C. I also liked her early books, but stopped reading her. After Handmaid’s Tale, I just stopped finding her worthwhile. Which of hers do you like best?

      Thanks for reblogging Danicat. Feel free any time. I am flattered.

      Marilyn

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