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Oryx and Crake

Posted by on 2016-07-07 09:27:36
This is, perhaps shockingly, the first Atwood novel I've ever read. I was avoiding her for the usual stupid reasons that sci fi fans avoid her, but on reflection, I felt that my reasons were trending a bit too close to some sort of anti-feminist nonsense. (I mean, yes, this is a science fiction novel, but who cares if she knows that or not).

Anyways, onto the novel - it's post-apocalyptic, but not in the way that most novels are post-apocalyptic - as far as we know, there's only one man left alive. The story alternates between Snowman discussing his present challenges, and his life from before. Turns out that he was friends with Oryx and Crake, two key players in the disaster.

Snowman is an interesting protagonist - I was reminded of the expression "we're all the stars of our own movies". Well in Snowman's case, that's not true. Even from his own point of view, he's obsessed with Oryx and Crake, and his life, both pre and post apocalypse, revolves around them. And it's an apocalypse that's basically the outgrowth of genetically modified food and investigations into medicine that's happening today.

In some ways this novel reminded me of Robert Charles Wilson's Spin, although Oryx and Crake doesn't rise to the heights of Spin. However, they're both novels about dealing with the un-imaginable from the viewpoint of the friend of the genius who has to solve, or create, the problem. Another big difference is that Spin is a bit more optimistic.