Townhouse Books

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oryx and Crake: Margret Atwood

Margret Atwood likes to say that she doesn't write science fiction, presumably because she sees science fiction stories as being something other than literature. I think she's wrong.

A good friend of mine once pointed out that most sci-fi stories are summarized by starting with the formulation "It's the future, and everything sucks." If that's the case, Oryx and Crake is about as sci-fi as it gets.

The story starts out with a character who is now called Snowman who is one of the few survivors of some sort of catastrophe in the near future. He jumps around a bit while relating the story of exactly what happened, who Oryx and Crake are, and his involvement with the whole mess.

Atwood deals with some very large ideas including gene manipulation, the role of corporations in modern society, and the growing difference between the very rich and the very poor, and addresses them in a literary rather than fantastical way. Her characters are fascinating people, and are both experiencing the radical changes that are going on around them, and are stand-ins for classic archetypes.

It's a great book, although not appropriate for the young or the easily shocked, as the levels of violence are sometimes excessive.

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