So, you go to Wal-Mart to buy your groceries because it's so damn cheap, but then you realize Wal-Mart is hiring very few full-time employees and not offering reasonable health care to its employees and it's walking employees through the process of how to get Medicare, not to mention they're closing down small businesses by exploiting foreign economies to get the lowest possible fucking cost; so, Wal-Mart's making YOU pay medical benefits for ITS employees, and replacing good jobs with shitty ones, and you don't want to support that, not to mention most of their food comes from the big corporations that have copyrighted their grains and are in the process of pushing small farms out of business by suing them for copyright infringement after their seeds blow onto the smaller farmer's land, so you decide to shop somewhere else, and isn't it time to go organic anyway, so you drive over to Trader Joe's and load up your cart, that feeling of guilt finally subsiding. So, you may not be selling out your next door neighbor, but now you're shitting a big one right on Mother Earth's face. All of a sudden you realize only the fruit here is local, and some of the bread, so you find another farmer across town you can buy beef from, and another farmer who you can get pork from, and now you're buying all locally, and driving all over God's red desert to get everything you need, and spending twice what you did at Wal-Mart, and spending half your saturday collecting food. Now, you're contributing to the local economy and not giving money to the giant food corporations that are trying to push small farms out of business. but you're still driving all over to buy the shit, and burning through petroleum like a motherfucker. I know I'm not telling you anything new right now: you've seen The Matrix, you've heard about overpopulation, global warming, oil spills and you know how totally, absolutely fucked polar bears are right now, but it's always been like that ever since you were born, and we keep coming up with new sciences, so inevitably something will come up to save the day, right? And, by the time we get to there, we'll be able to stop raising cows; we can just raise steaks: little flat cows that don't have brains, don't have needs other than maybe watering them and spooning nutrients into their slack mouths, and sea-urchin-like chicken creatures without any minds that we can make into chicken fingers, and none of them will feel a thing, so there won't be any question, ethically speaking, right? That said, I wouldn't eat urchin-chicken, if I wanted to go out on a limb and say a company would be required to even TELL me the product I was buying was urchin: "Warning: this product is made from something that tastes like, but isn't, a chicken." They don't tell me when my steaks are cloned, or through what fucked up chemical reactions they've made my food, so I have my doubts. What's wrong with growing a mindless food animal, much the way we grow corn or rice or soy? My cynicism only goes so far, I guess.
Having read "Oryx and Crake" and "The Handmaid's Tale," I am curious now how many other ways of horrifying me she has up her sleeve. "Oryx and Crake" is a dystopian (or as Atwood calls it herself, a speculative fiction) novel set in a future where genetic engineering rules the world. The structure of the book is very similar to that of "The Handmaid's Tale." So if you liked the writing style of that book, with constant shift of tenses, past and present mingled together, you'll enjoy "Oryx and Crake" too. Are Crakers really what Crake intended them to be - the perfect beings?
Atwood erred on the side of too much description in Handmaid's Tale as well, but that was a shorter novel (maybe 100 less pages than Oryx and Crake) and the society she was revealing to us was better realized. Two of Atwood's trademark Elusive Women figure in this novel --- Jimmy's mother runs off while Jimmy is a preteen, for reasons we never learn, and when Jimmy meets up with Crake again when they are adults, and Crake is designing his new species, Crake has a mistress named Oryx, who never allows either man to get to know her, though she sleeps with both. The men, though given (many) more pages of character development, are nearly as flat. The sole salient point of Jimmy's character seems to be that he is not Crake.
Oryx and Crake is an exceptionally weird novel that left me baffled, stunned and even disgusted; however, as time went on, it developed into one of the cleverest pieces of fiction I have ever read. Im currently reading the book for a second time, and I can see all the early warning signs of whats to come. This is a difficult novel to read in places because it depicts some truly horrible things, but I urge you to look beyond such representations and consider what Atwood was trying to say. I hope he progresses in later books as here his experiences are vanilla when compared to what Oryx and Crake have. And potentially, depending how Atwood uses them in the rest of the trilogy, it could be one of the best dystopian fictions ever written. Oryx and Crake - 5 stars 2.
In this compulsively-readable novel, the fabulous formula borrows some ingredients from such classic books as "The Island of Dr. Moreau"& "Jurassic Park"; "The Road" and "Never Let Me Go*" derive from the same line of thought as it! Inventing a Whole New World, creating an Origin tale, establishing a stream of consciousness which gives up to the reader enough clues to continue on his way to unravel the secret at the center of the novel (Who is the elusive Oryx? Atwood is intrepid in the creation of this fun, original terrain, which is in itself a theme of the novel (!!) And let's not forget to mention a fresh plot, heavy with allegory but also as effortless as air, in both the elements of comedy and surprise.
For starters, the idea of having a couple of different timelines going at once, and shift tenses according--present tense for the present, regular past tenses for the past--causes some serious grammatical problems, and is an utter BS plot device. I admit that I went into this book predisposed not to like it, for a variety of reasons. The biggest problem was the characters, though: three such utterly unsympathetic main characters do not make it easy to like anything about the story. When you open one of her books, you're immediately hit in the face by a thought bubble: She is writing World Changing Literature, and you should grovel before her genius.
It took me some time to take this book from my book shelves, it was there already some time, it seemed a bit weird, but after having read the Handmaid's Tale, I took up the challenge and it was well, well worthed. An apocalyptic story about a guy who seems to have remained as the sole human alive after an epidemic catastrophy leading to mankind going down.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the MeToo movement, for example, the British actress Joanna Lumley is reported to be fervently hoping that not all men are bad https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainm.... I think its fair to say that there is little hope for males in Oryx and Crake. If I interpret Atwood correctly, she includes Adam Smith, Moses, Freud, Darwin, Gandhi, and perhaps even the genetic scientists Watson and Crick as symbols of a male-dominated corporatocracy. One such nut-case would be embarrassing for man-kind; but it is reported that more than 40,000 men subscribe to a Facebook account which promotes an Incel Movement. Crake is a Jim Jones-type of scientific genius who is responsible for a world-wide genetic make-over. Part of the Crakian genetic re-design for humanity - thereby creating the children of Crake - is the ritualization of sexual activity so that males dont feel bad when rejected by prospective female mates. As a solution, the losers in courtship rituals in Crakes new world immediately lose all sexual desire - as well as their glowing blue penises - as soon as they receive the negative news. Or more accurately, men are pigoons according to Atwoods story-line. Pigoons are one of the many new species created by modern genetic splicing. Another way of saying the same thing: an increase in power requires exploitation - of the environment, of animals, and of other people, particularly of women. But the egg full of words hatched first, and the Children of Crake had already been created by then, and theyd eaten up all the words because they were hungry, and so there were no words left over when the second egg hatched out. Crake, in other words, not only eliminated sexual rivalry, he also destroyed the possibility of intelligent conversation. This ideology is, I think, the central theme of Oryx and Crake.
initially, i liked the pacing of the book, and the way the story was spooling out between the present and past, doling its secrets out in dribs and drabs. and the cutesy futuristic products and consumer culture bits are best left in the hands of a george saunders, not the queen of the long pen.
Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth in the Massey series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.