Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1) Details

TitleOryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 30th, 2004
PublisherAnchor Books
ISBN-139780385721677
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Apocalyptic, Post Apocalyptic, Fantasy

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1) Review

  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    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 on 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 get home and you unload your reusable bags and load up the fridge and then, as you slide a boxed pizza into the freezer, you see, printed across the bottom, "Made in Italy."So now, you're shopping for your groceries at a different store from where you do the rest of your shopping, adding to your carbon footprint, not to mention they're transporting your pizzas across half the fucking earth before they land on your shelf. 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. You head down to the local farmer's market and buy some little pygmy apples the size of clementines, and they're all weird colors but they're from some local farm, and you buy some locally made bread and buy some. . . wait, what is this? Red Bull? Doritos? 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. Face it: when it comes to the continuity of life on this planet, you are a pest. You're the renegade cell, eating away at all of the nice and friendly cells around you. 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? We'll take some polar bear DNA and store it, and once we're all caught up with Jurassic Park technologies, we'll bring 'em back. 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? Right?Don't hit me up with your "playing God" argument, because that's bullshit. We "play God" when we amputate a gangrenous leg, when we remove a tumor, when we brush our fucking teeth. So, what is really wrong with growing steaks in soil, and not raising cows in huge concentration camps where they hang out in their own shit all day? What's wrong with doing away with coffins, and simply mulching our loved ones? They're going in the dirt either way.If we're being utilitarian, is our urchin-chicken happier or less happy than our chicken in a lightless pen with ridiculous pecs so oversized his legs are broken? What about the chicken who has gone mad and is now pecking other chickens to death? Probably urchin-chicken. I'm just saying. 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? What's wrong with growing mindless clones of ourselves, just for the purpose of harvesting their organs? This would be an easier question to answer if I wasn't an atheist, and I could quote an instruction book, but I can't. I have to answer the question, and I'll give an answer that Atwood kinda-does-but-doesn't: we don't know what will happen. We didn't know sea walls would increase erosion in other parts of the river when we first started building them. We didn't know that lighthouses would kill tons and tons of birds because birds fly toward the light. We didn't know that carbon emissions could be a problem until we'd flooded tons of them off into the atmosphere. So, why shouldn't we use science to make the world cater to our every desire and impulse? Because we can't even predict the weather. ********Oh, you want me to talk about the book? Yeah, I guess I could do that. As you can tell by my meta-review, this one gets the gears in your head turning. But, the characters were all flat and, although full of potential, ended up dull. The post-apocalyptic world we're reading about is intriguing, as are the new creatures that have replaced humans. The bizarre, freakish animals created by science are also perfectly horrific. That said, some of this feels like a pretty big stretch. According to Atwood, we'll eventually be desensitized enough that we'll enjoy watching people tortured to death online, and we'll also like watching little children having sex with grown men. And I'm not talking about in a "2 girls 1 cup," watch-it-once-because-it-sounds-fucked-up way. . I mean, she imagines people will sit around watching this shit all the time. Perhaps I'm a prude, but I don't think either of these will ever become popular with more than a small audience. My cynicism only goes so far, I guess. Far as dystopias go, this is an interesting and unusual one. It's also an entertaining and quick read. I wish Atwood would've invested a bit more time in filling out these characters, and given us a five-star book instead. . . but nobody bats 100%. I'm looking forward to trying some of her non-science fictiony works soon.
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  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    I wonder if all Margaret Atwoods books are like this one? 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 story is told from the POV of Snowman, a seemingly last Homo sapiens sapiens on Earth. He is surrounded by the new breed of humans - passive, docile Chil I wonder if all Margaret Atwoods books are like this one? 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 story is told from the POV of Snowman, a seemingly last Homo sapiens sapiens on Earth. He is surrounded by the new breed of humans - passive, docile Children of Crake who are physically flawless, void of envy and jealousy, do not understand violence or sexual drive, unable to be artistic or comprehend technology. As the story progresses, through Snowman's recollections, we gradually learn the sequence of events leading to the fall of humanity as he knew it and Snowman's own contribution to it. 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. Once again, Atwood takes a current trend (this time it's bio/genetic engineering) and extrapolates it to an insane extent, creating a horrifying world of social disparity, violence, genetic hybrids, raging man-made viruses... The author's imagination is limitless, her command of English language is mind-blowing. This book is so much more than a science fiction novel that it so often labeled. It is a deeply philosophical book that raises numerous questions: is it wise to artificially alter something created and perfected by Nature over millions of years? does a man have a right to engineer a "perfect human" and decide who lives and who dies? or is there such a thing as a "perfect human"?Just like "The Handmaid's Tale," the ending is uncertain. The fate of Snowman and humanity is questionable. Will the humanity survive? Will Crakers overtake? Are Crakers really what Crake intended them to be - the perfect beings? There are no answers, and I am happy there aren't. This book is not intended to tell us what is right and what is wrong, rather it makes us think about what might be...Reading challenge: #13, 3 of 5
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second dystopia Atwood has written, and I think it's less successful than The Handmaid's Tale. Her vision here is of a not-too-distant future in which the US is divided into corporate-owned gated communities where the (biotech) companies' owners and highly-paid skilled workforce live and the lawless, sprawling urban wasteland where everyone else lives. Unlike virtually every other Atwood book I know of, the two main characters are male. The narrator, Jimmy, and his childhood friend C This is the second dystopia Atwood has written, and I think it's less successful than The Handmaid's Tale. Her vision here is of a not-too-distant future in which the US is divided into corporate-owned gated communities where the (biotech) companies' owners and highly-paid skilled workforce live and the lawless, sprawling urban wasteland where everyone else lives. Unlike virtually every other Atwood book I know of, the two main characters are male. The narrator, Jimmy, and his childhood friend Crake grow up inside one of the gated communities, bonding over Internet pornography and shared cynicism. As Crake grows up, it becomes evident that he is a genius, so he gets accepted to an elite science-and-technology school and drafted into a biotech firm while he's still a student. While he works there, he cooks up an apocalyptic plot to release a superbug disguised as a libido-enhancing pill once he's perfected his own synthetic race of humanoids, which he designed as an answer to everything he's identified as "wrong" with human nature. For example, the "Crakers" have photosynthetic pigment in their skins, which means they do not have to kill to eat. Crake also designed them to be cheerfully promiscuous and have obvious signals of sexual receptivity, thus eliminating conflict over sex. Crake's a real humanitarian, except for the whole "kill off Mankind 1.0" part of his plan.Structurally, the novel suffers from being too long and taking too long for the story to move forward. Indeed, the whole thing is told in flashbacks, with Jimmy reminiscing as the Crakers pester him for stories of their creator. 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. Also, a lot of touches that were clearly meant to be satirical fall flat. One of Crake and Jimmy's favorite pastimes in youth is playing computer games, and the games Atwood comes up with are transparent attempts to shock us with the nihilism of her young antiheroes. Also, every other object in the novel is given some cutesy brand name. This is clearly an attempt to mock the corporatization of global culture, but the effect is just irritating. None of the characters particularly register, either. 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 difference between these and other Elusive Women (say, Grace Marks in Alias Grace, Zenia in The Robber Bride, Joan in Lady Oracle or Marian in The Edible Woman) is that the others either revealed themselves to the reader if not to the men in their lives, or (like Zenia and Grace) gave us enough interesting possibilities that we cared to speculate as to their true natures. These women elude not only Jimmy and Crake, but also the reader. The men, though given (many) more pages of character development, are nearly as flat. Crake is a clear instance of metaphor abuse: he is indicated to be "mildly autistic," as the college he attends is nicknamed Asperger's U. and he disparages his old high school as containing "wall-to-wall neurotypicals." As his autism never appears in his behavior or becomes relevant to the story (indeed, it is never mentioned except in the chapter titled "Asperger's U."), I suspect it was only brought up to underscore the single salient point of his character, which is his detachment from the rest of the human species. The sole salient point of Jimmy's character seems to be that he is not Crake.
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  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes I'm torn between wishing I could get a glimpse inside Atwood's mind and thinking that might be absolutely terrifying.
  • Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
    January 1, 1970
    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. Behind the child pornography, ritualistic killings and animal abuse two young teens relished watching in their spare time on the internet, resided a dormant drive to understanding the excesses of human behaviour in order to dominate it. One of the boys (Crake) is phased by nothing; he is cold, calcula 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. Behind the child pornography, ritualistic killings and animal abuse two young teens relished watching in their spare time on the internet, resided a dormant drive to understanding the excesses of human behaviour in order to dominate it. One of the boys (Crake) is phased by nothing; he is cold, calculating and utterly detached from the passions most people experience. He watches such sick things in order to understand humanity in all its dark and gruesome facets. His best friend, Jimmy, is lead along due to his loneliness and curiosity. His personality is overshadowed by that of his more intelligent friend’s. And what they discover together drives Crake onto a very dark and dangerous road. But why? What’s Crake’s endgame? I couldn’t have guessed until the end. I was sure something big was coming, but I wasn’t expecting something quite as radical as what we got. The set-up for it is massive. I’m currently reading the book for a second time, and I can see all the early warning signs of what’s to come. If I’m being a little bit cryptic here, it’s because I don’t want to land a massive spoiler in your lap. The point is, Atwood has done something exceedingly clever in these pages. And I can’t wait to see where she takes it in the rest of the trilogy. There are so many themes she can address and so many interesting places she can take this. 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. It’s worth listening to. And as much as I love The Handmaid’s Tale I would go as far to say that this is a much more accomplished novel. It doesn’t have any feminist qualities, though instead it turns its critical eye towards issue of survival for humanity in a world on the cusp of environmental and economic collapse. It’s on par with 1984 and Brave New World with its subversive qualities and imaginative representation of a future that is not too far from reality. At times it reminded me of Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go with its depiction of depressed youth in a world the characters cannot fully navigate as they chose to suppress memories and ideas. Oryx is the prime example, but the limiting factor of the novel is its protagonist Jimmy. Jimmy is quite stationary and flat as a character. I hope he progresses in later books as here his experiences are vanilla when compared to what Oryx and Crake have. He felt like a means to tell their story, a mere narrative device, so I’m hoping (given how this novel ends) he starts to take a stronger grasp on the story and infuses it with a sense of ownership. Time will tell, for now this a great book full of great ideas. And potentially, depending how Atwood uses them in the rest of the trilogy, it could be one of the best dystopian fictions ever written.MaddAddam Trilogy1. Oryx and Crake - 5 stars2. The Year of the Flood - 5 stars3. MaddAddam - 2 starsFBR | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia
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  • Fabian
    January 1, 1970
    What a fantastic dystopia awaits! Our post-apocalyptic fate will surely be a wonder to behold. Atwood BUILDS UP when any other 'sensible' writer writing today about the doomed future would simply TEAR DOWN. 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! It's basically SUPERIOR to all of those books (save, may What a fantastic dystopia awaits! Our post-apocalyptic fate will surely be a wonder to behold. Atwood BUILDS UP when any other 'sensible' writer writing today about the doomed future would simply TEAR DOWN. 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! It's basically SUPERIOR to all of those books (save, maybe, the fourth*) & in bringing so much imagination to the forefront it gives us good evidence that great, lasting literature does not have to be boring. 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? Who is the mysterious Crake?). Miss Atwood does it all, & not a single page disappoints. Seriously. Here is a rare example of chaos being handled with expert skill.It is WAY more accessible, it should be mentioned, than the often-(over)praised "Handmaid's Tale", which is as feminist a tale as this modern novel is humanist. (Individualism of the 80's in strict contrast with the Globalization of the 10's). Animal hybrids and new species are invented, as are whole new words and classification systems. 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. It is a book as exotic as any blue-assed member of the Children of Crake.
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  • Annet
    January 1, 1970
    How can someone make up such a fascinating and terrifying story? Wow.... I absolutely loved it. 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. Together with the weird Crake's children he s How can someone make up such a fascinating and terrifying story? Wow.... I absolutely loved it. 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. Together with the weird Crake's children he survives and it's tough. The story alternates beween his youth and past and the apocalyptic world in which he has to survive and the story leads up slowly to the events that lead to the catastrophy. Highly recommended and highly fascinating. It took me some time to read it as I did not have much time to read, but every page was worthed and it was even worthwhile taking everything in intensively in stead of reading fast. I am now officially a big fan of Margaret Atwood and looking forward to read the sequel.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    I am calling complete, and total, bullshit. There are so many things wrong with this book that it's hard to know where to begin. 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'm not a huge fan of telling a story through flashbacks, but it can be done reasonably while retaining proper grammar. It's I am calling complete, and total, bullshit. There are so many things wrong with this book that it's hard to know where to begin. 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'm not a huge fan of telling a story through flashbacks, but it can be done reasonably while retaining proper grammar. It's not brain surgery.I admit that I went into this book predisposed not to like it, for a variety of reasons. I didn't like The Blind Assassin (yes, I might be the only person IN THE WORLD who can say that), but I thought that I should be fair and give an author another chance before I make up my mind. I also generally dislike dystopic literature, because it's so rarely done right. Her basic idea was kind of interesting (if done better in Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, and even that had its problems), but the execution was fatally flawed. I don't know much about science, but I do know that some of the research was wrong and the timelines don't add up. She seemed like she researched just enough to be able to throw words around, but not enough to use them correctly--a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The biggest problem was the characters, though: three such utterly unsympathetic main characters do not make it easy to like anything about the story. Crake was a rabid dog that needed to be put down a lot sooner than he was, Oryx was probably insane and too cold to make you care, and Snowman was just too damn stupid. Also, characters that you meet while they're watching child porn to me means that they should be first in line for the electric chair, not that I should care about their personal problems.The biggest problem I have with Atwood, though, is a problem that seems to be systemic in her works: she's so bloody arrogant. 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. You have to dig through layers of ego just to get to the plot. She has talent, no doubt, but she is so full of herself and her ability to be a Literary Writer that you miss the book forest for the literary trees. Also-also, she probably thought that ending was clever, but it was, in fact, a cop out. She was bored with the book, she wanted to end it, so she did. It must be convenient to not have to actually tie up her loose ends. In summary, I am clearly too much of a plebeian to appreciate the full extent of her genius, and I should crawl back to the benighted hole from whence I came.
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  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    One Generation AwayI often find it difficult to tell whether Atwood’s dystopian fantasies are meant as constructive social criticism or as sarcastic prophecy. Recent headlines suggest that her prophetic skills dominate, and with them her anticipatory sarcasm.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...]. As Spencer Tracey sa One Generation AwayI often find it difficult to tell whether Atwood’s dystopian fantasies are meant as constructive social criticism or as sarcastic prophecy. Recent headlines suggest that her prophetic skills dominate, and with them her anticipatory sarcasm.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...]. As Spencer Tracey said in the 1955 film, Inherit the Wind, when told by the trial judge in the Scopes monkey case that he hoped that Tracey wasn’t mocking the court, “Your Honor has every right to hope.” So, no Joanna, it’s hard to find a good one; but please go on hoping.I think it’s fair to say that there is little hope for males in Oryx and Crake. Certainly not for the protagonists of Jimmy/Snowman nor the eponymous Crake who are both thoroughly misogynistic from puberty onwards. They humiliate females in their fascination with kiddie-porn and their fantasy of women as either saints or incompetents. But the oblique references to male oppressors goes far beyond the characters of the story. 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. And she’s undoubtedly right: The XY genetic make-up is clearly defective. After all how does one otherwise explain the recent tragedy in Toronto in which ten people were killed and another fifteen seriously injured [https://www.thelily.com/who-are-incel...]? This insane atrocity was carried out by a so-called ‘incel’, that is, an involuntarily celibate male. His murderous grievance was against women because they found him sexually unattractive. His considered strategy for revenge was random homicide by motor vehicle. 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.Atwood’s anticipation of the Incels is remarkable. 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 don’t feel bad when rejected by prospective female mates. Otherwise the world would continue to be plagued by “... the single man at the window, drinking himself into oblivion to the mournful strains of the tango. But such things could escalate into violence. Extreme emotions could be lethal. If I can’t have you nobody will, and so forth. Death could set in.” As a solution, the losers in courtship rituals in Crake’s new world immediately lose all sexual desire - as well as their glowing blue penises - as soon as they receive the negative news. Men are pigs and are in need of fundamental reconstruction in other words - even by their own assessment.Or more accurately, men are ‘pigoons’ according to Atwood’s story-line. Pigoons are one of the many new species created by modern genetic ‘splicing’. In this case: of pigs and raccoons. Other varieties include rakunks, snats, wolvogs, bobkittens, spoat/ giders, and rabbits that glow with the genes of jellyfish. These invasive and predatory animals are mis-attributed as the ‘Children of Oryx’. This is another misogynistic swipe since Oryx is an Asian girl sold into slavery who becomes both a porn-star and Jimmy’s feminine muse (a dig at Jung?) whenever he has enough booze to stimulate alcoholic hallucinations.One might think that Atwood’s literary reach might have exceeded her intellectual grasp in conceiving such strange creatures as pigoons. But in today’s news appears the astounding announcement that pigs’ brains are now being kept alive outside their bodies [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetec...]. The scientists involved (apparently all of them men) believe that it is possible to repeat this remarkable feat with any mammal. And that, therefore, inter-species splicing is indeed feasible. Human immortality, some believe, is at hand. The children of Crake indeed: “... human beings hope they can stick their souls into someone else, some new version of themselves, and live on forever.”It is not just their genes that are questionable. Male minds are philosophically harmful in their rationalization of male power as beneficial in an Invisible Hand sort of way. The benign logic of competitive personal ambition - for advancement, for reputation, for wealth, for making the world better - is a mere excuse for power-seeking. The male mind is warped in its essential isolationism: “He [Jimmy] wanted to be himself, alone, unique, self-created and self-sufficient.”The quest for power ensures only one thing: an increase in the destructiveness of power. 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. Someone or something always loses in the competitive hormonal struggle. “Crake made the Great Emptiness,” say the men.The zero-sum game in the male-dominated world is enshrined by the children of Crake in its creational mythology: “Crake made the bones of the Children of Crake out of the coral on the beach, and then he made their flesh out of a mango. But the Children of Oryx hatched out of an egg, a giant egg laid by Oryx herself. Actually she laid two eggs: one full of animals and birds and fish, and the other one full of words. But the egg full of words hatched first, and the Children of Crake had already been created by then, and they’d eaten up all the words because they were hungry, and so there were no words left over when the second egg hatched out. And that is why the animals can’t talk.”Crake, in other words, not only eliminated sexual rivalry, he also destroyed the possibility of intelligent conversation. Even Jimmy, his disciple and quondam advertising copywriter, recognizes the profundity of the loss: ‘“Hang on to the words,” he tells himself. The odd words, the old words, the rare ones. Valance. Norn. Serendipity. Pibroch. Lubricious. When they’re gone out of his head, these words, they’ll be gone, everywhere, forever. As if they had never been.”’Crake’s debasing of language is actually part of an ideology: “The whole world is now one vast uncontrolled experiment – the way it always was, Crake would have said – and the doctrine of unintended consequences is in full spate.” This ideology is, I think, the central theme of Oryx and Crake. It is an ideology of chaos, of irrational rationalistic inquiry and technological development, an ideology which conforms to the competitive, driven strangeness of masculine ‘nature’. The latest headlines from California about Bill Cosby’s conviction make it difficult to disagree with Atwood at any point. [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/artic...].
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    eh.bore-x and crake. this is a very all right book. i was just unwowed by it. 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. but the characters just seemed so flimsy, and i was ultimately left with more questions than explanations. 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. however - and this eh.bore-x and crake. this is a very all right book. i was just unwowed by it. 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. but the characters just seemed so flimsy, and i was ultimately left with more questions than explanations. 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. however - and this maybe counts as a spoiler, but its just a minor plot point that is revealed somewhere in the middle and its not like - "oh - she has a dick!" or "they were dead the whole time", so i say it does not qualify. but riding the train to school today, i understood the potential value for pills given to the public that they would think were to improve their sex lives but were secretly sterilizing them. the thirty or so teenagers that plowed into the train screaming and carousing who then decided that the crowded subway was the best place to get into a full-on hair pulling bitchslap fight cannot be allowed to breed. please give us those pills, geneticists... i will bake you a delicious raspberry pie.come to my blog!
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  • Manny
    January 1, 1970
    Snowman has spent a terrible night, full of confused, whiskey-sodden dreams, and when the Children of Crake call to him from the bottom of his tree he is still mostly asleep."You don't exist!" he shouts. "You're not even characters in a Margaret Atwood novel! You're just part of a review. And Manny won't write it until Jordan's finished the book as well."None of this makes sense to Snowman, and it makes even less sense to the Children of Crake."What is a novel?" asks Eleanor Roosevelt. "And who Snowman has spent a terrible night, full of confused, whiskey-sodden dreams, and when the Children of Crake call to him from the bottom of his tree he is still mostly asleep."You don't exist!" he shouts. "You're not even characters in a Margaret Atwood novel! You're just part of a review. And Manny won't write it until Jordan's finished the book as well."None of this makes sense to Snowman, and it makes even less sense to the Children of Crake."What is a novel?" asks Eleanor Roosevelt. "And who is Jordan?" asks Madame Curie. "Is she the same as Oryx?"The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
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  • Kemper
    January 1, 1970
    Geez. That was the most depressing apocalypse ever.A guy called Snowman is playing caretaker and prophet to a strange new race of people he calls the Crakers in the ruins of civilization. As Snowman forages for supplies, his recollections make up the story of what caused a massive biological and ecological disaster that has apparently wiped all the old humans out except for him.Snowman’s past takes place in our near future where he was once known as Jimmy in a society where genetic engineering w Geez. That was the most depressing apocalypse ever.A guy called Snowman is playing caretaker and prophet to a strange new race of people he calls the Crakers in the ruins of civilization. As Snowman forages for supplies, his recollections make up the story of what caused a massive biological and ecological disaster that has apparently wiped all the old humans out except for him.Snowman’s past takes place in our near future where he was once known as Jimmy in a society where genetic engineering was commonplace and the privileged lived in compounds owned and maintained by the corporations they worked for. Jimmy/Snowman’s memories of his brilliant friend Crake and the woman he loved, Oryx, haunt him even as he struggles to survive.Fascinating book that seemed all too plausible in its depiction of a future state where brainless, nerveless chicken blobs with multiple breasts are created in a lab for chicken nuggets and animals are routinely crossbred. And all this set against a society where the only thing that matters is the bottom line so the idea of questioning the ethics or morality of what’s being done makes you a traitor.This is a story that takes the idea of playing god to a whole new level. When you can create any kind of life you can imagine, where do limits come in? And if you think that human society is beyond saving, what kind of people would have the arrogance to think they can come up with something better?
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  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    January 1, 1970
    I'm coming back to the authors who marked my literary 'coming of age': Vonnegut, Atwood. These two, for me, are the grand-daddy and grand-mammy of my bookish adolescence. They were life rafts held out by a couple of high school teachers. I grabbed them and held on. I simply cannot review either properly, so wrapped in nostalgia is my own point of view; so personal my reaction. I'm reading them now to see how they hold up and what they have to say to me 30 years later; and in Atwood's case, to pi I'm coming back to the authors who marked my literary 'coming of age': Vonnegut, Atwood. These two, for me, are the grand-daddy and grand-mammy of my bookish adolescence. They were life rafts held out by a couple of high school teachers. I grabbed them and held on. I simply cannot review either properly, so wrapped in nostalgia is my own point of view; so personal my reaction. I'm reading them now to see how they hold up and what they have to say to me 30 years later; and in Atwood's case, to pick up where I left off. This one marked the point when I split from her pretty definitively. At the time, I couldn't deal with her movement away from what were female-centric stories grounded in a very concrete and recognizable reality (Blind Assassin was perhaps the first stumble I made; and Oryx and Crake did me in). So who knows what actually changed, and why these dystopian landscapes with their much broader themes are now appealing to me.Could it be that I've recently left a soul-destroying career in -- gasp (please don't hate me) -- marketing? Could it be genocide in Darfur; earthquakes in Haiti and Chili and unstoppable oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico? Could it be police in full riot gear in my very own city? Sigh. Maybe my state of mind now is remarkably the same as it was in 1981--back when I was blockading and protesting and raging. And reading, reading, reading.Could it be I need another life raft? Could it be I need hope? Funny place to look for it, here in Oryx and Crake. This is the Atwood I remember loving, in so many ways: dense, DENSE stories full of symbolism, perfectly-rendered imagery, jam-packed with ideas, scathingly vicious about society going awry, science being co-opted whole scale by consumerism (anyone up for a game of Blood and Roses?). Arts and humanities (our moral centre) being reduced to brand management and advertising. Everything here is horrifyingly real, and even more so because one can see its genesis in the here-and-now. She gets it all in here...and she does it with prose, plot, character (broad strokes, I grant you), imagery that leaves one (me at least), absolutely stupefied by her sheer brilliance. Here:"Across the clearing to the south comes a rabbit, hopping, listening, pausing to nibble at the grass with its gigantic teeth. It glows in the dusk, a greenish glow filched from the iridicytes of a deep-sea jellyfish in some long-ago experiment. In the half-light, the rabbit looks soft and almost translucent, like a piece of Turkish delight; as if you could suck off its fur like sugar."I read Atwood with a kind of synesthesia:* I recall, in high school, handing in a book report on Surfacing as a painting. I could not express what I felt in words; I needed a visual medium. I still see her prose in pictures. Nothing has changed, and I see she's still up to her old tricks with colour symbolism.Atwood's control is amazing. I picture her (more synesthesia) as a mad conductor, her corkscrew hair flying, her impish grin and twinkling eyes blazing. In front, an unruly orchestra smashing away on five or 18 or 326 different symphonies at the same time. There's the genetically-modified foods string section; over there, Internet kiddie porn on flutes and piccolos. Totalitarian regimes executing protestors on percussion, of course. Rat-a-tat-a-tat. Pigoons root around amidst the snare drums; giant green bunnies gnaw away at the spare viola bows. At any moment, they may turn on the orchestra and the audience will be treated to a bloodbath in the pit. All under the watchful and encouraging eye of the conductor, urging them on to a cataclysmic, orgiastic finale--only she can see where this music will end, if it ever will. Standing ovation. Curtain comes down. But the concert is not over.Year of the Flood is next up (after I re-read Sirens of Titan).ETA: *I realize she pokes fun at this very thing here in O&C, esp. in the women of Martha Graham scenes. So, I am an Atwood archetype, so what? :-)
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  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    I had read Year of the Flood not realizing that it was a sequel to Oryx and Crake. Thus a desire to see what else was in store in this post-apocalyptic vision. Atwood portrays a world in which short-sightedness causes a major, global collapse in civilization. We travel with a few characters through the transition from bad to unimaginable and see what might happen if we continue along some of the paths we now trod. Genetic engineering is at the core here, and along with it flows a a consideration I had read Year of the Flood not realizing that it was a sequel to Oryx and Crake. Thus a desire to see what else was in store in this post-apocalyptic vision. Atwood portrays a world in which short-sightedness causes a major, global collapse in civilization. We travel with a few characters through the transition from bad to unimaginable and see what might happen if we continue along some of the paths we now trod. Genetic engineering is at the core here, and along with it flows a a consideration of what it means to be human. Are the highly engineered tribe of innocents still human? Are pigs with human brain elements at least partly people? Where should lines be drawn in our capacity to modify reality? Classic questions of the genre, for sure. The if-this-goes-on notion extends to political and security issues as well as scientific ones. I felt at times that the book was addressed to a young audience, maybe a cut above YA. That stems at least in part on the story's focus on young characters. It was a very quick, engaging read. I liked the book and it addresses real issues. Having read two in the series, I am looking forward to a promised third.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    It's the end of the world as we know itIt's the end of the world as we know itIt's the end of the world as we know itand Jimmy feels fine. Jimmy feels fine.Actually, wait. That's not true. It's the end of the world, and Jimmy's the last human standing and he feels. . . he feels. . . well, Jimmy feels like shit.He's wrapped in a bed sheet, he's filthy, he's hungry, and he's alone, with nothing but his worries, his regrets and some strange non-humans, known as Crakers, to keep him company.And why It's the end of the world as we know itIt's the end of the world as we know itIt's the end of the world as we know itand Jimmy feels fine. Jimmy feels fine.Actually, wait. That's not true. It's the end of the world, and Jimmy's the last human standing and he feels. . . he feels. . . well, Jimmy feels like shit.He's wrapped in a bed sheet, he's filthy, he's hungry, and he's alone, with nothing but his worries, his regrets and some strange non-humans, known as Crakers, to keep him company.And why is Jimmy, the B student, the sex addicted playboy, the wordsmith, the Everyman, still alive? Why should HE still exist while almost everyone else has perished?Well, he had the jackal position and the trust of a madman, known as Crake, and was therefore favored in the end, when Crake's one man show brought the world down. And as the famous Margaret Mead once said:Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.Yes, Margaret. . . all groups good, and bad, am I right? This book is a great reminder to beware the despots (know any?), the disgruntled and/or depressed. . . oh, and BIG CORPORATIONS. There is no madness here that seems a spoof, and dear Ms. Atwood confirms for us at the end of the entire trilogy (this is book #1), that all of the science in her fiction trilogy has a solid basis in truth. Be afraid, people. Be very afraid. This is dystopian fiction, set not too far in the distant future, and, as always, Ms. Atwood gives us a character who is so real, he appears to have DNA.Her side characters are surprisingly unformed (there's far more meat overall on the bones of books 2 and 3), but this is the beginning and it's Jimmy's story, and his well-developed self and the unbelievably quotable quality of this story bumped it up to 5 stars for me in this, my re-read.Oh Jimmy!Ms. Atwood, who is a literary oracle as far as I'm concerned, doesn't preach to us, just reports:There are too many people and that makes people bad.For shit sure, Margaret.In goddess we trust.
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  • Joe Valdez
    January 1, 1970
    My introduction to Margaret Atwood is Oryx and Crake, her 2003 science fiction novel that leaps from the post-apocalypse back to the months leading up to it. This is a future that owes its legacy to Philip K. Dick, where ecological disaster and civil unrest are kept outside the compound walls of the biotech industry, whose engineers toil on some troubling new creations. The novel is lesiurely paced and droll but kept me engrossed via the sharpness of its wit and a creeping dread that builds unde My introduction to Margaret Atwood is Oryx and Crake, her 2003 science fiction novel that leaps from the post-apocalypse back to the months leading up to it. This is a future that owes its legacy to Philip K. Dick, where ecological disaster and civil unrest are kept outside the compound walls of the biotech industry, whose engineers toil on some troubling new creations. The novel is lesiurely paced and droll but kept me engrossed via the sharpness of its wit and a creeping dread that builds under the immorality of its concepts. Once I warmed to Atwood's protagonist--a middling Mad Max named Snowman--the novel took off.After teasing quotes from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Atwood drops us in a lagoon of some unnamed part of what was once the world. A survivor who calls himself Snowman spends his time foraging about in self-pity. He's a shaman of sorts to a genetically engineered tribe of humans with 30-year life spans, naked and green-eyed perfections who speak, but harbor a child's understanding of the world based on the mythology Snowman is making up as he goes, myth built on deities he refers to as Oryx and Crake. The story jumps back in time to introduce these characters and how Snowman got himself here.Snowman was once known as Jimmy. His father was a gifted genographer responsible for the pigoon, a genetically adapted pig bred to grow human-tissue organs. Jimmy's mother was a microbiologist whose job had been to study the proteins unhealthy to the pigoon. She suffers a nervous breakdown over her work and quits. Her marriage begins to dissolve after Jimmy's father is recruited by HelthWyzer, a company which fortifies its people and their families inside a sterilized compound. Outside the walls are the pleeblands, the inner cities, where bioterrorists and criminals apparently run riot and Jimmy--a class clown--has never set foot.The HelthWyzer Compound was not only newer than the OrganInc layout, it was bigger. It had two shopping malls instead of one, a better hospital, three dance clubs, even its own golf course. Jimmy went to the HelthWyzer Public School, where at first he didn't know anyone. Despite his initial loneliness, that wasn't too bad. Actually it was good, because he could recycle his old routines and jokes: the kids at OrganInc had become used to his antics. He'd moved on from the chimpanzee act and was into fake vomiting and choking to death--both popular--and a thing where he drew a bare-baked girl on his stomach with her crotch right where his navel was, and made her wiggle.Jimmy's mother ultimately runs away, subverting the CorpSeCorps security force which policies the HelthWyzer compound. She liberates Killer, Jimmy's pet rakunk, a pet that is part racoon, part skunk. Jimmy is devastated, unsure who he misses more: his mother or his genetically altered skunk. A few months before this loss, Jimmy meets Glenn, a transfer student with a calm aloofness and maturity beyond his years. Eager to make a dent, Jimmy befriends him. The boys play strategy games like Kwiktime Osama or Barbarian Stomp. Glenn's favorite is Extinctathon, where the object is to name that dead species. The game is monitored by a network of biofreaks calling themselves MaddAddam. Glenn's codename is Crake, as in the doomed red-billed waterbird from Australia. Jimmy and Crake browse the web, which offers newscasts in the nude, live coverage of executions in Asia, a game show where contestants eat live animals, and global sex sites. It's on a porno show where Jimmy becomes smitten with a girl who looks no older than eight, small-boned and exquisite who stares into the camera with a substance that captivates him. Years later, Crake will introduce this girl to Jimmy as Oryx. In the post-apocalypse, Snowman has based the mythology he shares with the genetic perfections in his charge around the idea that they are Children of Crake and all animals are Children of Oryx, which Jimmy realizes too late bans him from killing a rabbit for food.Snowman has decreed that the tribe bring him a fish per week, which also occurs to him too late as being short-sighted. He makes the decision to trek to a place he once knew as the RejoovenEsense Compound, whose inhabitants dropped dead or fled, leaving behind canned goods, sprayguns and booze. On his journey, Snowman contends with wild pigoons, which travel in packs and possess strategic skills. Crake and Jimmy parted ways when they are accepted into the Watson-Crick Institute and Martha Graham Academy, respectively, but stay in touch until the day Crake, a VIP at RejoovenEsense, offers his friend a job marketing the revolutionary BlyssPluss Pill.The aim was to produce a single pill, that, at one and the same time:a) would protect the user against all known sexually transmitted diseases, fatal, inconvenient, or merely unsightly;b) would provide an unlimited supply of libido and sexual prowess, coupled with a generalized sense of energy and well-being, thus reducing the frustration and blocked testosterone that led to jealousy and violence, and eliminating feelings of low self-worth;c) would prolong youthThese three capabilities would be the selling points, said Crake, but there would be a fourth, which would not be advertised. The BlyssPluss Pill would also act as as a sure-fire one-time-does-it-all birth-control pill, for male and female alike, thus automatically lowering the population level. This effect could be made reversible, though not in individual subjects, by altering the components of the pill as needed, i.e., if the populations of any one area got too low."So basically you're going to sterilize people without them knowing it under the guise of giving them the ultra in orgies?""That's a crude way of putting it," said Crake.Rather than trade on space travel, rayguns or aliens, Oryx and Crake is in the comedy horror vein of the science fiction genre. Much of it is subtle yet exhilarating. Atwood takes the most toxic elements of consumer culture and industry and pushes them to their most logical extremes. The satiric effect is both humoring and chilling. English has been bastardized to make words out of SoYummie Ice Cream or Noodie News. One of the first successful genetic splices was the spoat/gider, a goat crossed with a spider to produce high-tensile silk in the milk. An animal snuff site called Felicia's Frog Squash is popular with the children. Atwood's tongue-in-cheek vision throbs with a doomsday pulse.Oryx and Crake was an acquired taste. I wasn't blown away by the post-apocalyptic world Atwood teases the reader with in the early going. Snowman could be considered an inert blob as a character and nothing particularly exciting happens in regards to the end of the world setting. But the novel is anything but boring. Atwood's vision, her sense of humor and her language--often plain in manner and style but sometimes as fantastic as skywriting--that kept me turning the pages. Flashbacks into Oryx's childhood or Jimmy's collegiate ennui are imaginative and infused with wit and tragedy. The novel closes well and concludes with a final chapter that is close to perfect.
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  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    January 1, 1970
    Oryx and Crake, Margaret AtwoodOryx and Crake is a novel by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. She has described the novel as speculative fiction and "adventure romance" rather than science fiction because it does not deal with things "we can't yet do or begin to do" and goes beyond the realism she associates with the novel form. The novel focuses on a post-apocalyptic character with the name of Snowman, living near a group of primitive human-like creatures whom he calls Crakers. Flashbacks re Oryx and Crake, Margaret AtwoodOryx and Crake is a novel by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. She has described the novel as speculative fiction and "adventure romance" rather than science fiction because it does not deal with things "we can't yet do or begin to do" and goes beyond the realism she associates with the novel form. The novel focuses on a post-apocalyptic character with the name of Snowman, living near a group of primitive human-like creatures whom he calls Crakers. Flashbacks reveal that Snowman was once a boy named Jimmy who grew up in a world dominated by multinational corporations and privileged compounds for the families of their employees. Near starvation, Snowman decides to return to the ruins of a compound named RejoovenEsence to search for supplies even though it is overrun by dangerous genetically engineered hybrid animals. He concocts an explanation for the Crakers, who regard him as a teacher, and begins his foraging expedition.Main characters: Snowman, Crake, Oryx, Sharon, Jimmy's father, and Ramona.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه دسامبر سال 2006 میلادیعنوان: اوریکس و کریک؛ نویسنده: مارگارت اتوود؛ مترجم: سهیل سمی؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1383؛ در 511 ص؛ شابک: 9643115119؛ داستانهای نویسندگان کانادایی - سده 20 ماوریکس: نوعی آهوی آفریقایی ست، و «کرِیک» پرنده‌ ای ست، که در فارسی به ترتیب به آن‌ها : «تیزشاخ» و «یلوه ی حنایی» گفته می‌شود. «اوریکس» و «کریک» لقب دو نفر از شخصیت‌های اصلی کتاب است، که از نام همین دو حیوان، که در زمان رخداد داستان، منقرض شده‌ اند انتخاب شده است. رمان در زمانی آغاز میشود، که نسل انسان بر اثر شیوع بیماری، از بین رفته؛ و تنها یک نفر از بازماندگان آنها، در کنار نسل جدیدی از انسانهای تولید شده در آزمایشگاه، به زندگی ادامه میدهد. با فلش بک، و یادآوری خاطرات، توسط همین «جیمی»، خوانشگر کتاب، از چگونگی ماجرا آگاهی پیدا میکند. ا. شربیانی
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  • J.L. Sutton
    January 1, 1970
    Even though Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake was absolutely amazing, it took me a few readings before I was ready to review it. Like many of her other novels, Atwood presents events leading up to her dystopian future with a cold logic. How the characters participate in these events as well as the world of the 'crakers' (which comes after humanity) makes this story truly memorable. It can be a little difficult following events in the beginning; however, it is well worth the effort. Atwood's stori Even though Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake was absolutely amazing, it took me a few readings before I was ready to review it. Like many of her other novels, Atwood presents events leading up to her dystopian future with a cold logic. How the characters participate in these events as well as the world of the 'crakers' (which comes after humanity) makes this story truly memorable. It can be a little difficult following events in the beginning; however, it is well worth the effort. Atwood's stories have a lyrical quality which really fits the new mythology which is being created in her new world. Her character's transformations are equally compelling. I will be rereading this book and reading the rest of the trilogy.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    "Why is it he feels some line has been crossed, some boundary transgressed? How much is too much, how far is too far?"I read a book on the future (a nonfiction on the future, that is a bit of an oxymoron, I know!) about the fourth industrial revolution last week, and going through the list of paradigm shifts that are taking place at this very moment in time, I felt increasingly uncomfortable. "I know this already", I thought. "And I know where it is going to lead."Almost by instinct, I took Oryx "Why is it he feels some line has been crossed, some boundary transgressed? How much is too much, how far is too far?"I read a book on the future (a nonfiction on the future, that is a bit of an oxymoron, I know!) about the fourth industrial revolution last week, and going through the list of paradigm shifts that are taking place at this very moment in time, I felt increasingly uncomfortable. "I know this already", I thought. "And I know where it is going to lead."Almost by instinct, I took Oryx and Crake from the bookshelf, and opened it in the middle. "Just checking a little," I thought. And then I went back to the beginning of the novel, which is in fact ... the end ... of the fourth industrial revolution, if all that can go wrong goes wrong. And please tell me if I missed the moment when Murphy's law stopped applying?Rakunks and Pigoons may make up for all the extinct species, but where is Snowman to find a comfortable cave with a view and air condition for his lonely and hopeless Robinsonade in a post-Anthropocene world with a few Crakers for only company?As I am a diehard Atwood fan, I know she will deliver the myths for the post-human phase as well, but it still breaks my heart when former Jimmy realises that as he loses the concept of certain words, they die with him, for there is nobody out there to share them with him. All this striving for perfect power, only for humanity to destroy itself out of ambition. Please, Margaret Atwwod, stop being such a prophet of doom. It is scary reading over Halloween. Even if it is the second time. Especially as it is the second time, and we are deeper into the paradigm shift now than ten years ago, with no insight in sight. Sorry for the pun. They will die out too, if stupidity has its way. And it always does, doesn't it?So, as long as we are a literate species, why not try Oryx and Crake? It is a sign of occasional intelligence occurring in our species. Let's celebrate that:"When any civilization is dust and ashes," he said, "art is all that's left over. Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning—human meaning, that is—is defined by them. You have to admit that."
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  • Glenn Sumi
    January 1, 1970
    Talk about timing.Just as the weather goes nuts – sunscreen and shorts one day, parkas the next – and mysterious diseases warrant masks, along comes Margaret Atwood's Oryx And Crake, a novel that explains these and other global warning signs.This is Atwood's second successful work of speculative fiction. But where The Handmaid's Tale focused on gender and reproduction in a totalitarian regime, Oryx And Crake examines genetic splicing and disease.We begin in a post-apocalyptic world, barren and s Talk about timing.Just as the weather goes nuts – sunscreen and shorts one day, parkas the next – and mysterious diseases warrant masks, along comes Margaret Atwood's Oryx And Crake, a novel that explains these and other global warning signs.This is Atwood's second successful work of speculative fiction. But where The Handmaid's Tale focused on gender and reproduction in a totalitarian regime, Oryx And Crake examines genetic splicing and disease.We begin in a post-apocalyptic world, barren and seemingly unpopulated except for sheet-clad protagonist Snowman and a group of naked, multi-hued green-eyed beings called the Children of Crake.Oh yeah, dangerous hybrid creatures called wolvogs (part wolf and part dog) and pigoons (vicious piglike creatures formerly used for harvesting organs) keep the defenceless Snowman stuck in a tree.Before long, Atwood skilfully sets up two narratives: Snowman's journey across the sunbaked landscape for survival (he's running out of food), and his tortured recollections of how he got there in the first place.The present-tense tale is full of adventure – a scene of Snowman being pursued by pigoons is gripping stuff. But it's in the recreation of his past that Atwood lets rip and has fun creating a world of well-intentioned science gone wrong.Raised in a gated corporate-owned community by two scientist parents, Snowman, aka Jimmy, meets charismatic loner Crake, and together they do good-ol'-boy activities like watching executions and kiddie porn on the Net and playing games like Extinctathon, about dying species.After high school, the two go off to different schools – Jimmy's word-related skills aren't as desired as Crake's scientific ones – only to meet up later when Crake's become frighteningly powerful.The Oryx of the title refers to the mysterious woman who comes between them, a former child prostitute who's passed from one country (and man) to another. Exotic and idealized, she's the weakest link, surprising since Atwood's known for her female characters.As in The Handmaid's Tale, the ending feels anticlimactic, which will make the inevitable Hollywood adaptation problematic.For the record, Jimmy is Atwood's most complex male character to date. His lusts and motivations ring true. And her imaginative touches – outdoor sculptures made of living vultures, penis-shaped cock clocks – will probably turn up in arts pages and stores next week.Running beneath the darkly funny observations and warnings, though, is Atwood's humanistic love of the earth and language. This is a cautionary tale. After staying up all night with this book, you won't look at the world in the same way again.***Originally published in NOW Magazine here.
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to give myself three months to reflect on this book before writing anything about it. I have a tendency, upon finishing a novel that I really, really love, to annoy the shit out of friends and loved ones by first trying to impress upon them the need to read this book now, NOW - and failing that, to wax hyperbolic and ecstatic over its charms. To them I am the litboy who cried wolf.And yes, it has only been two months, not three, but I've read the other two books in the MaddAddam series I wanted to give myself three months to reflect on this book before writing anything about it. I have a tendency, upon finishing a novel that I really, really love, to annoy the shit out of friends and loved ones by first trying to impress upon them the need to read this book now, NOW - and failing that, to wax hyperbolic and ecstatic over its charms. To them I am the litboy who cried wolf.And yes, it has only been two months, not three, but I've read the other two books in the MaddAddam series (which pale to this work) - and on a sunny, warm Saturday in San Francisco when everything feels pretty great, my mind wandered back again to Oryx and Crake and remember how easy it would be for humanity to screw all this up, irrevocably.Atwood refers to this novel as speculative fiction - not dystopian, urban fantasy, etc. - as the world she created is the late 21st century harvest of seeds in the ground today. The story is horrifying, sobering, real. Her characters are relatable, their struggles are our own, and the outcomes of their decisions have the unintended consequences that our own do.I know I will return to this book again in 10 or 20 years. I want to see and feel what that world is then through the filters of this book that presages all of those things about our species that have the potential of going really, horribly wrong. I remember reading something that Carl Sagan posited in his wonderful book Cosmos - about how sentient beings that become technologically advanced have a very slim chance of living through their adolescence. Our brains contain too much ability to envision a Doomsday scenario - and then the werewithal to trigger it. Atwood writes brilliantly of one potential scenario.
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  • Rowena
    January 1, 1970
    The blurb says Oryx and Crake is a love story. I must be missing something!There's nothing really romantic about this story, it's a novel that questions society's ethics and morals. Dystopian novels always make me feel a bit paranoid, this one more so because we actually have the technologies Atwood described in the book, and genetic experimentation is always a hotly-debated topic. How far are we willing to go, and what will the repercussions be?This book was very entertaining, and a quick read. The blurb says Oryx and Crake is a love story. I must be missing something!There's nothing really romantic about this story, it's a novel that questions society's ethics and morals. Dystopian novels always make me feel a bit paranoid, this one more so because we actually have the technologies Atwood described in the book, and genetic experimentation is always a hotly-debated topic. How far are we willing to go, and what will the repercussions be?This book was very entertaining, and a quick read. Structure-wise, I love how Atwood introduces the story piecemeal. She is such a versatile writer.
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  • Cecily
    January 1, 1970
    Futuristic, bad new world in the wake of an unspecified environmental/ genetic engineering disaster, told from the viewpoint of a nostalgic but detached survivor. It is as much about personal relationships, sexual exploitation, sexual freedom, religion, creation and original sin as it is cyber-punk sci-fi. The central, though unoriginal, irony is that this dystopia was created from a failed Utopian plan. TrilogyO&C is parallel with the equally excellent "The Year of the Flood" (reviewed here Futuristic, bad new world in the wake of an unspecified environmental/ genetic engineering disaster, told from the viewpoint of a nostalgic but detached survivor. It is as much about personal relationships, sexual exploitation, sexual freedom, religion, creation and original sin as it is cyber-punk sci-fi. The central, though unoriginal, irony is that this dystopia was created from a failed Utopian plan. TrilogyO&C is parallel with the equally excellent "The Year of the Flood" (reviewed here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...), with several characters in common, and both end with the same scene, though approached from a different angle. The third in the trilogy, MaddAddam (reviewed here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), was hugely disappointing.Structure of StoryHowever, the format and style of this novel is entirely different from Flood: this alternates between Jimmy's childhood, told in the past tense, and his current situation (when known as Snowman) - passages which are angrier and more adult in tone, and told in the present tense. When tense and name switch in consecutive sentences, it can be disconcerting.Jimmy is a materially privileged but emotionally deprived and manipulative child ("He loved her [his mother] so much when he made her unhappy, or else when she made him unhappy"), whose most important adult friendships are equally unbalanced and unhealthy. Telling the story from his perspective, but in the third person, emphasises his hurt, resentment and detachment ("Then they could thick off that item on the Terrific Parenting checklist they both carried about inside their heads"). Evil and HumourThere is much pain, evil and fear in this story: tales of sexual exploitation of children are the worst, and exacerbated when, as an adult, a victim insists it was not a big deal because learning to read and write "was a good trade[-off]" - yet Atwood is usually portrayed as a feminist author. I can't square that circle, and this aspect would make me a little cautious about who I recommend it to.There is balance from humour - mainly in the ingenious ways Snowman, as a de facto priest (though really more of an ancestor) struggling to survive, invents rules from Crake (a deity, who was himself "against the notion of God, or of gods of any kind"), and an associated belief system. When this overlaps with Snowman's passion for words, things get a little liturgical. Love of LanguageThe love of language starts in childhood, when Jimmy had collected old words, "He developed a strangely tender feeling towards such words, as if they were children abandoned in the woods and it was his duty to rescue them." A foreshadowing of a future when Snowman finds comfort in words, relishing the diverse names of "oil paints and high-class women's underwear" and exhorting himself to "Hang on to the words... When they're gone out of his head... they'll be gone, everywhere, for ever. As if they had never existed." What a responsibility. Is Religion Inevitable?The inevitability of religion is suggested, though perhaps more for the benefit of those in power than those who are meant to believe. Even when starting anew, there is a vacuum to fill. When Snowman first slipped into this role, he began "to find this conversation of interest, like a game. These people were blank pages, he could write whatever he wanted on them". He learns the importance of internal consistency, though I think that's a lesson some religions have yet to learn.More strangely, "If you take 'mortality' as being, not death, but the foreknowledge of it and the fear of it, then 'immortality' is the absence of such fear. Babies are immortal."WomenUnlike many of her stories, the female character, although crucial and with a typically Atwoodesque troubled background, is not the main protagonist, or at least not in the literal sense. Her attitude to her own life is what I struggle with.Overall, a complex, troubling and funny story.Final ThoughtsPowerful quote:"The air is thick, as if panic has condensed in here and hasn't yet had time to dissipate."Disconcerting image:"He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Sheer vertigo."Sobering final thought:"All it takes... is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything... and it's game over for ever." "All the available surface metals have already been mined... without which, no iron age, no bronze age... it's not like the wheel, it's too complex now."Finally, Snowman reminds me a little of Leon Trout, the narrator of Vonnegut's "Galapagos", so you might want to look at that (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...), though it's rather funnier than O&C.
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  • Aloha
    January 1, 1970
    I started this book knowing that this is a post-apocalyptic novel. I knew that Snowman had survived some sort of mass destruction of mankind because of an experiment gone awry and is fighting for survival. The story started with Snowman sleeping in a tree, waking up in a survival mode, with the last of his provisions. He then observes the children at a distance, obviously not surprised or afraid of them. They knew him as they approached him and chanted his name, “Snowman, oh Snowman.” Who are th I started this book knowing that this is a post-apocalyptic novel. I knew that Snowman had survived some sort of mass destruction of mankind because of an experiment gone awry and is fighting for survival. The story started with Snowman sleeping in a tree, waking up in a survival mode, with the last of his provisions. He then observes the children at a distance, obviously not surprised or afraid of them. They knew him as they approached him and chanted his name, “Snowman, oh Snowman.” Who are these children? They questioned him about found items that most of us would know, a hubcap, a computer mouse, his beard that they call “moss”, etc. I wondered about the children and why they're so innocent of things we take for granted in this world. I’m thinking that the children must have been babies when the apocalypse happened. But wait, I read that it's only been 2-3 mos. since the apocalypse. Then peculiar descriptions of the children began, such as skin resistant to ultra-violet light, each perfect, each a different skin color, but all with green eyes. And then there’s this Crake that Snowman kept on referring back to as the maker of rules, as the one he has to go to for answers. Snowman makes a pretend gesture with his broken watch as if receiving signals from Crake for answers, to satisfy the children’s questions. Then Oryx comes into the picture. Snowman talks to her, a pretend entity. The tale alternates between Snowman, a name from when Jimmy jokingly references himself as The Abominable Snowman to the Crakers, as he survives his post-apocalyptic world and his past.The story flashes to Snowman’s memory of his childhood. His name was Jimmy then. He was raised in a dystopian society in which genetic engineering was encouraged for economic success and supersedes over any moral qualms. This was because mankind has depleted their natural resources and ruined the environment. His father worked at OrganInc Farms, a genographer who was one of the chief architects of the Pigoon project. The pigoons were meant to be hosts to organs that could be easily transplanted to humans to avoid rejection, a reference to our current experimentations such as the Vacanti mouse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacanti_... - which has a human ear grown on its back and meant to avoid rejection upon transplantation. In this dystopian world, the architects of genetic engineering were the top dogs as they were encouraged to do whatever needs to be done to make life better for the humans. His family lives in luxury within the Compounds, built by biotech companies for their employees. They live among the high IQ genetic engineering elites and their children. The Compounds are protected by CorpSeCorps, keeping out the pleeblands, the less intelligent and talented humans who are left to live in the ruins of mankind’s waste, the desperate consumer of products created by the elites. In this world, the biotech companies rule because they provide what mankind desperately wants, genetically engineered food to replace naturally-created food that is no longer viable, feel-good drugs as relief from an increasing nightmarish world of depleting resources and crime, and products that enhances looks and sexual desire.Jimmy befriends Glenn, who later becomes known as Crake. Glenn’s nickname is from his codename Crake on an online game called Extinctathon, a trivia game in which they name the extinct species of animals and plant life. The genius Crake is the ultimate rational overcoming any human empathy he may have, the premier reflection of their society’s treasuring of the mental elite and devaluing of arts and the humanities. Jimmy and Crake spent many teenage bonding hours together traversing the internet and playing games that reflect their world of cheap life and instant gratification of violence and sex. They played violent games like Three-Dimensional Waco, Barbarian Stomp, and Kwiktime Osama. Crake is an expert at side maneuvers, where you not only have to see where you’re going, but you have to see where your opponent is going. They visited voyeur websites such as nitee-nite.com, for viewing people committing assisted suicide, and various porn sites. It is at one of these sites, HottTotts, that they first encountered Oryx, an approximately 8 year old child from a southeast Asian country who was sold into child sex slavery and forced to perform porn acts. Her haunted eyes seemed to stare at Jimmy, the guilty voyeur, the distant participant to her slavery. He kept a print out of her because she touched his humanity, the part that made him feel guilty for the first time at the things he was doing.Crake later became an elite researcher and saved Jimmy from a life of working in a monotonous low-level job. When Jimmy came to work for Crake as the marketing man, Crake revealed to him that he was working with human embryos, to create a race of humans with what he considers harmful qualities removed. They are all of different shades of multi-colored skin to avoid racism. They are placid and has no need for hierarchy or territoriality. They have cyclical and plural sexuality, and mating rituals to promote reproduction-only in order to avoid sexual frustrations, rape and jealousy. They are meant to be a religion-free, placid race. It was also while working for Crake that he encountered the adult Oryx, who was working to help the Crakers adapt to the world and who was also Crake’s whore, purely to satisfy his sexual frustration. Then there came a triangle of Jimmy’s friendship with Crake and Jimmy’s deep love for Oryx. Ultimately, Crake, an expert at side maneuvers in online games, pulled a side maneuver on the society he detested, to leave Jimmy alone in the world to be guardian over his genetically engineered children.The three main characters have symbolic meanings. Crake, with his hierarchy, logic, and anti-art, represents the masculine or yang quality. Oryx, with her forgiveness and adaptability, represents the female or yin quality. Finally, Jimmy represents the balance of the male and female, the aggression and the bending, the yin and the yang. Crake’s blaming of sexual frustration on the ills of society reflects the historical masculine point of view that women, considered the instigator of sexual feelings from men, are the root of evil. This results in traditions that have caused evils to be done to women because they were blamed for inciting men’s lust. Oryx was the all-suffering yet forgiving female. She was the total placid female made to cater to the male sexual desire. Through all this, she sees good in all and adjusts amazingly to her situations. She, therefore, can see any situation from a forgiving, loving and kind perspective. Snowman (Jimmy), the blending of the yin and yang, the flawed humanity, was selected to lead the new “perfect” race to safety. Jimmy’s humanity lies in his imperfect yet resilient qualities. Snowman is a terrific every man character. We can relate to him because he is realistic in his discomfort and ruminations, yet there is a hidden strength which enables him to survive. He is vulnerable and yet strong at the same time. We've all had times where we feel we can't go on, but we do, anyway. For all his flaws, it is Jimmy that Crake chose to lead and protect the children of Crake. Jimmy, being whimsical, ironically turned Crake into a godlike being. He also became somewhat like a shaman, using the whimsical term "feathers" to describe his hairy chest instead of the scientific name. He often lets his imagination runs away with him as he tells stories of Oryx and Crake, and explains things to the Crakers.In the end, the elitist, hierarchical, “masculine” society that was destined for destruction was saved by their product, humans who inhabit mostly “female” qualities of placidity and non-hierarchal tribal community, and who, in the end, became religious.
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  • Stuart
    January 1, 1970
    A scathing condemnation of the world we are creatingOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureOryx and Crake hit me a lot harder than I expected. It’s Margaret Atwood, so you can expect the deft characterizations, innovative narrative structure, effortless writing, and social criticism. What I wasn’t prepared for was the powerful emotional impact it had, and the thoughts it generated. In essence, Atwood asks a simple question: “What type of world are we creating, and does it deserve to exist? Moreo A scathing condemnation of the world we are creatingOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureOryx and Crake hit me a lot harder than I expected. It’s Margaret Atwood, so you can expect the deft characterizations, innovative narrative structure, effortless writing, and social criticism. What I wasn’t prepared for was the powerful emotional impact it had, and the thoughts it generated. In essence, Atwood asks a simple question: “What type of world are we creating, and does it deserve to exist? Moreover, do we deserve to exist if we stay on the path we are heedlessly pursuing?” This is not a new question. Plenty of dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels have asked it in a variety of forms. But for my money, Oryx and Crake is one of the most eloquent and harsh condemnations of the world we have created, whether intentionally or not, that I’ve read in the last few years. It has elements of Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos and Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, and I imagine some overlap with Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (which I plan to read soon), but it is a distinctive work with an unmistakable message. The story is about Snowman, the last human survival of a global biotech-induced plague that has wiped out humanity, the Crakers, a group of genetically modified herbivorous childlike-humans that have been designed to survive in this new world, Crake, the brilliant geneticist who has passed judgment on humanity and found it unworthy, and Oryx, a young Asian former child-prostitute who is involved with both Snowman and Crake. It is about a near future dominated by corporations that maintain carefully-guarded communities for their sheltered employees, and the rest of the population that live in pleeblands. Governments, armies, universities, security – everything has been privatized, as so many free-market proponents tell us would benefit us all. I wonder how many of those intellectuals, economists, professors, and social innovators live as the have-nots of the world do, on the fringes of our global economy. My guess – none at all. I myself work for a giant securities company that is built on the premise that the efficient use of capital leads to greater economic benefits for all members of society, and the fewer government restrictions, the better. So the irony of this message invariably coming from the privileged class is not lost on me, I can assure you. The story is also about the online world we have created for ourselves, and with just the slightest bit of exaggerations, shows us the childhood of Snowman and Crake, growing up on a steady diet of online public executions, 24/7 webcams, Noodie News, assisted suicide, frog squashing, snuff videos, hard-core porn, and child pornography. It’s all just standard stuff for kids in the future. Looking all the content that the Internet offers without any restrictions to anyone with a smartphone, including kids of all ages, I think any parent out there can share my discomfort and fears about what this unrestricted flow of information can do to young minds not prepared to draw distinctions between what we still attempt to categorize as “good” and “bad”, “moral” and “immoral”, “healthy” and “harmful”. Who is it that decides? Well, nobody unfortunately. Nobody wants the censored internet of China, but what price do we pay, particularly children, for the unfettered freedom of the Kardashians, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I certainly have found much good in social media and endless information at my fingertips, but that’s because I grew up in the pre-Internet age when I first developed interests and ideas without the ubiquitous influence of social media. How would I and my peers have fared with non-stop free entertainment on the web? Would I have ever bothered to delve into lengthy novels for hours on end, or would I go for the instant gratification of Tweets, YouTube, Google, and the like? It’s such a slippery slope, and the same question applies: “Do guns kill people, or people kill people? Does the internet kill meaningful thought and reflection, or does it depend on the user?” It’s just a tool, after all, say proponents of the Internet. But when I see people’s fingers twitching on their mobile phones the instant they have a free moment, and the sea of bowed heads staring at their little private digital worlds (and my head among them), I have to wonder, is this the world we want for ourselves? It’s not as if going back to a simple agrarian existence is even a remote possibility in our massively-interlinked global society. 99.9% of us would be dead within a week without the global economic infrastructure, and if we did survive it would be about as pleasant the The Walking Dead. So when the brilliant scientist Crake engineers a supervirus to wipe out humanity for its sins, his judgment is cold and harsh. To paraphrase, his view is “The world we have created is evil, and we cannot expect to solve our own problems. Therefore, I will annihilate humanity and create a new, simpler, and more innocent species to carry on in the post-human world.” That’s much the same idea as Vonnegut’s Galapagos, thought that book has a much whimsical tone to mask the harsh message beneath. And so every reader of Oryx and Crake has to ask themselves that question. Atwood doesn’t let us squirm away. Oftentimes post-apocalyptic tales are cautionary in nature, and warn us to step away from the path we are going down in terms of environmental destruction, overpopulation, religious intolerance, overreliance on technology, tinkering with genetics, etc. And certainly Oryx and Crake is about that. Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven is a gentle and elegant hymn to the good and beautiful aspects of our world that we take for granted, and that is a valid view as well.But Oryx and Crake is no gentle fable. The future world it depicts has basically nothing worthy of redemption at all. The privileged corporate workers in their guarded compounds live a cynical and willfully ignorant existence, knowing their activities are built upon exploiting the plebes outside. The plebes for their part live a brutish existence lacking in appeal. Snowman is closer to the reader’s perspective as he observes with horror what Crake has planned for humanity. And Oryx is an oddball – a young girl subjected to the worst that developing world poverty can dish out, and yet having a beutific and serene outlook on life that chooses to focus on the good and ignore the ugliness. But ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, Crake takes it into his own hands to pass judgment and ruthlessly exterminate humanity. He takes action, but what a cruel and final sentence. We, humanity, are not given any chance for redemption or even rebuttal. I hardly think Atwood is suggesting that his act is justified or right, but she also doesn’t shy away from putting our world on trial and letting us think about our own answers. It’s a very intense experience and I can’t imagine any reader who doesn’t finish the book without stopping for a long time, maybe even days later, to think about the implications. Amazing, wonderful, and terrifying all at once. I’m tempted to read it again right now, but I need to move on. I’ll definitely revisit it again someday.I’m fully aware that Oryx and Crake is the first part of the MADDADDAM TRILOGY, but I’m reluctant to proceed to The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam. That’s because I’ve read dozens of reviews of both, many from friends whose judgment I trust. And what I’ve gathered is this: The Year of the Flood explores much of the same territory of Oryx and Crake and fills in many details of the world and relationships there. And while some people say this book is just as good as the first one, many said they prefer Oryx and Crake where all the ideas and characters are new, and said the second book is well written but lacks the impact of the original. The reviews of MaddAddam are even more mixed, with a lot of people seriously disappointed in comparison to the first and second books. Because I was so impressed by Oryx and Crake, I don’t want to ruin that feeling, so if anything I’d rather re-read it instead. Or I may read The Year of the Flood someday to learn more, and skip the final book. We’ll see.
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  • Barry Pierce
    January 1, 1970
    I've somewhat skipped ahead in my reading of Maggie Atwood. I was going in order from the beginning but then I saw this in a charity shop for like a euro and obviously couldn't leave it behind.I've never been a fan of non-realist works of fiction. Hence science fiction doesn't brandish my shelves and you'd actually have to pay me to read fantasy. So I was apprehensive about Oryx and Crake, the first book in Maggie's trilogy of post-apocalyptic speculative works.The novel begins with Snowman waki I've somewhat skipped ahead in my reading of Maggie Atwood. I was going in order from the beginning but then I saw this in a charity shop for like a euro and obviously couldn't leave it behind.I've never been a fan of non-realist works of fiction. Hence science fiction doesn't brandish my shelves and you'd actually have to pay me to read fantasy. So I was apprehensive about Oryx and Crake, the first book in Maggie's trilogy of post-apocalyptic speculative works.The novel begins with Snowman waking up, outdoors. He seems to be the only human being left after some unknown world-ending event. His name isn't actually Snowman, he's Jimmy. Throughout the book we discover who Jimmy is and what part he played in ending the world. The novel flips between Snowman surviving in the new world and flashbacks to his life as Jimmy. When he isn't scavenging, he's musing on life. Slowly we discover who our title characters are, Oryx and Crake, and why the little mutant children who inhabit the former planet Earth with Snowman seem to treat Oryx and Crake as the great creators.I found the novel to be wonderfully balanced. There's two plots happening at once, interspersing between each other, and Maggie handles this beautifully. Oftentimes in books with concurrent plot lines you get somewhat bored with one of them and sigh and moan whenever the novel switches to that plot. That does not happen with Oryx and Crake. Maggie has essentially written two great books and mashed them together.I also greatly appreciate that even though this novel is full of futuristic made-up jargon and somewhat complicated conversations about the nature of genetics, Maggie never makes this a difficult read. I had known what the basic plot was about before reading this novel and honestly, that really put me off. Mutant pigs and rabbits and magic pills and a land segregated by communes. But these things are treated, and written about, as if they were just the status quo. At times I forgot I was reading a dystopia, I was thinking god those awful pigoons, as if they were a real and present danger to my well-being. Usually I would be so cynical about the fantasy of it all, but I wasn't.I really loved Oryx and Crake. Although I'm a bit meh about book series and trilogies, I will definitely be continuing on. The novel gives you a lot to think about. Even Maggie herself said that the novel is essentially a warning against what might eventually happen. And since we seem to be nose-diving deeper into a world akin to Gilead, I'm terrified that even with a novel as strange and terrifying as Oryx and Crake, Maggie might once again be right.
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  • Ratiocination
    January 1, 1970
    A mainstream author writing science fiction badly. Basically, tries to have it both ways: referencing real-world, present-day biotechnology without bothering to be accurate about it. I didn't enjoy reading it, and I don't like the implication-- that writing SF just involves throwing terminology around. One wouldn't have much patience for a legal thriller that ignored basic courtroom procedure; one wouldn't have much patience for a medical drama that got human anatomy wrong. I don't have much pat A mainstream author writing science fiction badly. Basically, tries to have it both ways: referencing real-world, present-day biotechnology without bothering to be accurate about it. I didn't enjoy reading it, and I don't like the implication-- that writing SF just involves throwing terminology around. One wouldn't have much patience for a legal thriller that ignored basic courtroom procedure; one wouldn't have much patience for a medical drama that got human anatomy wrong. I don't have much patience for this.In fairness, the intent may not be science fiction here, but sort of a biotech fantasy (in the sense that Star Wars is fantasy set in space, not that the two works bear any other resemblance.) If so, I still don't think it came off; the story and characters didn't work nearly well enough for me to make up for basic concerns about the premise.
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  • Timothy Urges
    January 1, 1970
    Margaret Atwood deserves all the admiration and praise that she receives, and then some. Such a clever and erudite woman can only make the world a better place. And she does this by showing the horrors of what could easily become our reality. Oryx and Crake is a post-apocalyptic novel about Snowman, a lone survivor of a nightmare future. Snowman represents all the dirtiness of the human-collective. He is us. He carries shame and regret and a willingness to cling to hope. The revelations are slow Margaret Atwood deserves all the admiration and praise that she receives, and then some. Such a clever and erudite woman can only make the world a better place. And she does this by showing the horrors of what could easily become our reality. Oryx and Crake is a post-apocalyptic novel about Snowman, a lone survivor of a nightmare future. Snowman represents all the dirtiness of the human-collective. He is us. He carries shame and regret and a willingness to cling to hope. The revelations are slow, so I can’t say much without ruining the effect. This book is terrifyingly beautiful. Literary science-fiction at its best.
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  • Hugh
    January 1, 1970
    This book has been chosen for a discussion in the 21st Century Literature group that starts next week. I am not normally interested in dystopian fantasy novels but the last two Atwood books I read (The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace) were so good that I thought I should give it a chance.For me this is a very difficult book to judge, as throughout the book my reactions were oscillating between picking holes in the science (and it is always dangerous reading any predictions once a few years have e This book has been chosen for a discussion in the 21st Century Literature group that starts next week. I am not normally interested in dystopian fantasy novels but the last two Atwood books I read (The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace) were so good that I thought I should give it a chance.For me this is a very difficult book to judge, as throughout the book my reactions were oscillating between picking holes in the science (and it is always dangerous reading any predictions once a few years have elapsed) and being impressed with the power and completeness of Atwood's imaginative vision, however bleak her judgment of modern humanity.The book is told from the perspective of the self-styled (Abominable) Snowman, who believes he may be the last human survivor and is entrusted with looking after a group of weirdly childish and innocent mutants he dubs Crakers, and defending them from various genetically engineered hybrid predators. The sections alternate between the present and his memories of his life before the catastrophe, when he was the childhood friends with the megalomaniac genetic scientist known as Crake, who has both engineered the disease that has wiped out the rest of humanity, and masterminded the development of the mutant children. The Crakers have been genetically programmed to remove humanity's most destructive features and to adapt to their degraded environment. There are obvious parallels with Biblical stories, particularly the Garden of Eden, but overall Atwood's vision is a relentlessly bleak one. The book is quite an easy and compulsive read, but I am not sure it left me wanting to read the rest of the trilogy.
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  • Nikoleta
    January 1, 1970
    Όταν το ξεκίνησα δεν περίμενα ότι θα μου αρέσει τόσο πολύ. Το Όρυξ και Κρέικ είναι ένα βιβλίο για απαιτητικούς αναγνώστες. Η Atwood μιλάει για την επιστήμη, την τεχνολογία και για την ανθρώπινη φύση προσθέτοντας αυτές τις φιλοσοφικές αναζητήσεις σε ένα μεταποκαλυπτικό περιβάλλον! Η δράση είναι υπερβολικά αργή, αλλά κρατάει 100% τον αναγνώστη στις σελίδες του βιβλίου, προσφέροντας του την εκπληκτική αφήγηση της και τις εκλεπτυσμένες γνώσεις της με μια μαγευτική γλώσσα. Η αγωνία δεν λείπει καθώς τ Όταν το ξεκίνησα δεν περίμενα ότι θα μου αρέσει τόσο πολύ. Το Όρυξ και Κρέικ είναι ένα βιβλίο για απαιτητικούς αναγνώστες. Η Atwood μιλάει για την επιστήμη, την τεχνολογία και για την ανθρώπινη φύση προσθέτοντας αυτές τις φιλοσοφικές αναζητήσεις σε ένα μεταποκαλυπτικό περιβάλλον! Η δράση είναι υπερβολικά αργή, αλλά κρατάει 100% τον αναγνώστη στις σελίδες του βιβλίου, προσφέροντας του την εκπληκτική αφήγηση της και τις εκλεπτυσμένες γνώσεις της με μια μαγευτική γλώσσα. Η αγωνία δεν λείπει καθώς το τι και το πώς απαντάται μόνο λίγες σελίδες πριν από το τέλος του βιβλίου. Πολλές φόρες έχω αναφέρει αγαπημένους μου συγγραφείς ως μάγους της αφήγησης, μόλις αυτές τις ημέρες ανακάλυψα και μία μάγισσα!
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