(c) 2005-2007 Oliver Bonten
I read a review of this book in a news magazine and decided to buy a copy, then forgot about it, and finally remembered when saw it in a book store. The first novel by Atwood I read was "The Handmaid's Tale", and I wasn't aware that she had written anything else since then.
"Oryx and Crake" is the story of a guy who calls himself "The Abominable Snowman" in a future where he is apparently the last living ordinary human being. He is taking care of a bunch of genetically altered humans who live in an environmentally destroyed world, to which they are perfectly adapted, like in some kind of Garden of Eden, while remembering how the world got into this shape.
"Oryx" and "Crake" are names of (then) extinct animals that are used as pseudonyms by Snowman's best friends, a scientific genius and an Asian girl who was sold as a sex slave when she was a child.
The disturbing thing about "Oryx and Crake" is that the story is not very far away, and the humble beginnings of all that goes wrong in the story are already present in our society. The biotech in the book begins with the "first successful splicing" of goat and spider genes, which has acutally been performed a few years ago. The idea to grow specialised pigs as organ donors for humans is there (in the book, those pigs become predators). Product marketing is just one or two logical steps away from the way it is done in the book. And the increasing divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots" may be around the corner, at least in the U.S.
To satisfy the curiosity of the genetically altered humans, Snowman has to invent stories that explain the destroyed world around them, the vanishing of humanity and of Oryx and Crake, which evolve into a kind of creation myth. This story evolves in parallel to Snowman's recollections of the past, which tell the story of how the world came to be in this condition.
But the new humans are no society into which one of us old humans might fit, and Snowman gets increasingly lonely and depressed. Like in the "Handmaid's Tale", the end is open. Snowman may either die next, or find salvation.
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