Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake



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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 10 part of his planStructurally 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 outh is playing computer games and the games Atwood comes up with are transparent attempts to shock us with the nihilism of her Pisco significa pajaro. 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 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 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 twooung 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 ca 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 surgeryI admit that I went into this book predisposed not to like it for a variety of reasons I didn t like The Blind Assassin Einführung in die deutsche Sprache der Wissenschaften 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 makeou care and Snowman was just too damn stupid Also characters that The Defense (Eddie Flynn 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 problemsThe biggest problem I have with Atwood though is a problem that seems to be systemic in her works she s so bloody arrogant Whenou open one of her books Hai nhà you re immediately hit in the face by a thought bubble She is writing World Changing Literature andou 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 ou 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 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

Ole from whence I came 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 seuence 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 ou liked the writing style of that book with constant shift of tenses past and present mingled together ou ll enjoy Oryx and Crake too Once again Atwood takes a current trend this time it s biogenetic 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 than a science fiction novel that it so often labeled It is a deeply philosophical book that raises numerous uestions is it wise to artificially alter something created and perfected by Nature over millions of ears 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 humanJust like The Handmaid s Tale the ending is uncertain The fate of Snowman and humanity is uestionable 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 beReading challenge 13 3 of 5 One Generation AwayI 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 sarcasmIn 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 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 hopingI think it s fair to say that there is little hope for males in Oryx and Crake Certainly not for the protagonists of JimmySnowman 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 obliue 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 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 than 40000 men subscribe to a Facebook account which promotes an Incel MovementAtwood 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 ou 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 assessmentOr 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 hallucinationsOne 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 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 uestionable 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 uniue self created and self sufficient The uest for power ensures only one thing an increase in the destructiveness of power Another way of saying the same thing an increase in power reuires exploitation of the envi. Nd 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 wil.

Ronment 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 menThe 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 uondam 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 conseuences 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 inuiry 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 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 outh 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 fo So ou go to Wal Mart to buy our groceries because it s so damn cheap but then ou 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 ou 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 Mr. Fix-It you decide to shop somewhere else and isn t it time to go organic anyway soou drive over to Trader Joe s and load up our cart that feeling of guilt finally subsidingSo Sometimes I m torn between wishing I could get a glimpse inside Atwood s mind and thinking that might be absolutely terrifying I had read Year of the Flood not realizing that it was a seuel 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 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 uestions 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 oung audience maybe a cut above YA That stems at least in part on the story s focus on oung characters It was a very uick engaging read I liked the book and it addresses real issues Having read two in the series I am looking forward to a promised thirdDecember 52019 Daily Beast Feral Hogs Terrorize Senior Citizens in Texas by Tracy Connor Makes one wonder 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 skillIt is WAY accessible it should be mentioned than the often overpraised 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 CrakeTop 100. Derness 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 imagini.

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario uebec and Toronto She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe CollegeThroughout her writing career Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees She is the author of than thirty five volumes of poetry childr