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Oryx and Crake 195

Posted by timothy
from the nice-normal-names dept.
daltonlp writes "I haven't felt this satisfied after finishing a science fiction novel since Ender's Game. I waited some weeks to review it, to make sure I wasn't simply infatuated. Oryx and Crake is woven from a great many themes near and dear to SF, but it's primarily a retelling of the story of Adam and Eve--except in reverse (the world isn't beginning, but ending)." Read on for the rest of Dalton's review.
Oryx and Crake
author Margaret Atwood
pages 374
publisher Random House, 2003
rating Worth reading
reviewer Lloyd Dalton
ISBN 0385503857
summary A retelling of the story of Adam and Eve--except in reverse. The world isn't beginning, but ending.

The novel is a mad scientist story, where humans play God for pleasure and profit. It's a last-human-left-alive story. It's a projection of a dystopic future, where all political and economic power is held by militaristic corporations.

Most of these themes have been explored before, and they're introduced in the first couple chapters of the book. But they're handled so well, I feel like I'm spoiling the reader's experience by listing them here. Never mind, read the book anyway. Maybe you've seen this stuff before, but you haven't seen it written like this.

The measure of science fiction isn't the uniqueness of its concepts--it's what the author can do using the ideas as tools. It's about how intensely a book can penetrate into the reader's imagination, and this is driven by a writer's talent (not the raw ideas).

Margaret Atwood writes stories that are deeply layered and voiced in an incisive, conversational tone. Despite its bleak themes, Oryx and Crake is far from depressing--it's mostly cheerful and upbeat, which turns out to be a fine way to write about obsession and love and revenge and the end of the world. Somewhat like Neal Stephenson, Atwood's writing doesn't take itself too seriously. It's chock full of wordplays and grimly humorous subtexts. The result is a book that works as both a dark comedy and an allegoric drama, but feels like a conversation between the author and the reader.

Some parts of Oryx and Crake approach horror--not blood & guts horror, but what someone from the 1700s might feel if a time traveler explained the basics of how nuclear weapons, school shootings and Internet porn work today. Atwood pulls very few punches when imagining the possible extensions of humanity's greed, lust, hatred, and cold-bloodedness. Her easy pace, artful characterization and humorous touch fully engages the reader's mind, and her willingness to shock takes full advantage of the open target. The result is a mental chill that takes a long time to fade.

It's not a perfect book. Even at 374 pages, some episodes of the story arc seem abbreviated. Some of Atwood's future visions seem a bit contrived, but this depends on whether she's going for humor, symbolism, shock value or sheer inventiveness on a given page. Most pages (including the following excerpt) are a well-stirred mixture:

"On day one they toured some of the wonders of Watson-Crick. Crake was interested in everything--all the projects that were going on. He kept saying "Wave of the future," which got irritating after the third time.

First they went to Decor Botanicals, where a team of five seniors were developing Smart Wallpaper that would change colour on the walls of your room to complement your mood. This wallpaper--they told Jimmy--had a modified form of Kirilian energy-sensing algae embedded in it, along with a sublayer of algae nutrients, but there were still some glitches to be fixed. The wallpaper was short-lived in humid weather because it ate up all the nutrients and then went grey; also it could not tell the difference between drooling lust and murderous rage, and was likely to turn your wallpaper an erotic pink when what you really needed was a murky, capillary-bursting greenish red.

That team was also working on a line of bathroom towels that would behave in much the same way, but they hadn't yet solved the marine-life fundamentals: when algae got wet it swelled up and began to grow, and the test subjects so far had not liked the sight of their towels from the night before puffing up like rectangular marshmallows and inching across the bathroom floor.

"Wave of the future," said Crake."

It's too early to tell if Oryx and Crake will earn Atwood the same acclaim as The Blind Assassin and The Handmaid's Tale. Regardless, it's a powerful book--unnerving, moving and well worth reading.


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Oryx and Crake

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  • The Handmaid's Tale (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ... was mildly entertaining, but it came across like a low-wattage The Stand. Old-school King at his best could kick just about anyone's ass, including Atwood's. Maybe it's time I read Atwood again, just to see if she, unlike SK, has improved with age...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      just to see if she, unlike SK, has improved with age

      I thought he was found dead some time ago? Truly an American icon...

    • Old-school King at his best could kick just about anyone's ass, including Atwood's.

      Back in the 80s, I picked up a copy of "The Gunslinger", first in a series by King that his fans (at least some of them) were calling his masterwork. It read like it had been written by a high school student, very flat writing and an unengaging plot.

      Was this book in particular overhyped? Or is King just another highly-succesful mediocre author?


      • "The Gunslinger" is the first book in the "Dark Tower" series. It was written something like 15 years before the second book. I agree that the writing in a bit dull and the book is not entirely entertaining, but it does set the stage for the series. The next books are, to me at least, amazing pieces of literature. Maybe not the best writing ever, but the characters and story-line more than make up for it. Book II is cool, but the 3rd book, "The Wastelands" is by far my favorite in the series. Excellen
      • Essentially it was written by a high schooler. It's his first book, just not the first one published. Stephen King admits that it's not the best quality, so he released a revised version. I'm currently working on the fifth one in the series :)
      • The Gunslinger is not in King's standard style by any means. It has attracted a very loyal following due to its mythic approach to things, but it's not his best written novel by a long way.

        I highly recommend IT, Eyes of the Dragon and Different Seasons (a collection of 4 novellas, including Shawshank Redemption, The Body (which became the film Stand By Me), Apt Pupil (filmed by Bryan Singer) and The Breathing Method).

        All much better written, IMHO.
    • but it came across like a low-wattage The Stand.

      The Stand may be high-voltage entertainment, but Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid's Tale actually have something to say about people and our future. King can tell a story, no doubt, but that's all he's trying to do.
    • by rowdent (203919)
      Um, no...

      King is at best a mildly okay Hollywood script writer, whereas Atwood is one of the finest authors of recent years.

      The Handmaid's Tale is a magnificent example of postmodern writing that subtly subverts our understanding of "the narrator". If you read the "Historical Notes" you'll notice that the entire narrative up until that point consisted of random unordered tapes collected by chauvanistic historians. This subverts our whole understanding about truth and chronological order in the text. Pu
    • Handmaid's Tale similar to The Stand?

      Sheesh, did you actually read either book?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:33PM (#7903961)
    I fist read it as "Oxy and Crack" and wondered why Slashdot was running a story on drugs.
  • My thoughts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This book was quite a bit different than the usual Margaret Atwood novels and this is primarily because this is a work of science fiction. I did not particularly enjoy her other work from the science fiction genre, "The Handmaid's Tale". However, I understand that that book was one of Atwood's most popular works probably because it was a favorite among feminists. I doubt feminists would find much to relate to in this book unless it was how men have managed to finally screw everything up completely. I have n
    • This is a repost from the amazon review [amazon.com] of the book.
      • THE BALLS (Score:4, Informative)

        by kgbkgb (448898) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:34PM (#7904654)
        You have a lot of balls for calling someone up on reposting from another source, when you did exactly the same thing not half-an-hour ago.

        http://books.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=91901& th reshold=0&commentsort=0&tid=186&tid=214&mode=threa d&pid=7903959#7904430

        In my opinion, this kind of thing deserves banishment from slashdot.. and maybe bamboo spikes shoved under the nails.
    • "However, I understand that that book was one of Atwood's most popular works probably because it was a favorite among feminists. "

      Or because its a rich novel, with a compelling plot, and the wonderful use of language that you would expect from her.

      Also it was made into a film in which Natasha Richardson gets her kit off.

      Phil

    • Re:My thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Grab (126025) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:59PM (#7904220) Homepage
      Hmm, maybe worth reading then.

      On the "never written a bad book" front, I have to say that I found "The Handmaid's Tale" to be a bit of a misanthropic rant without much to recommend it - the "keen insights" are trite repetitions of stereotypes. That's why I was quite surprised by the comment in the main review, "Atwood's writing doesn't take itself too seriously". THT was so leaden, I'm surprised it didn't bust my bookshelf!

      Off-topic - I have to say that THT isn't science fiction, in the same way as 1984 isn't science fiction. For some reason, any novel set in the future is automatically labelled "science fiction", regardless of the actual content. Ho hum.

      Grab.
      • ...as I believe the young people say.

        THT didn't really work as SF, it was far too much concerned with the present day world. As, I suppose, was 1984 when it was written.

        Atwood's work has usually struck me as humourless, O&C made a nice change.

    • I doubt feminists would find much to relate to in this book unless it was how men have managed to finally screw everything up completely. I have never been much of a fan of science fiction but I admit that it reads better when a writer of Atwood's skills is the author.

      I found this book fascinating because it seemed clear to me that Atwood was not writing the book for her usual audience. The writing itself was much simpler than her previous books and the strictly male narration is unique to this book. (I
    • The Handmaid's Tale is probably one of the best books I've read. Essentially its 1984 except remove Stalinism and replace it with the American Religious Right. The characters are done extremely well, the story is a page-turner, and it contains some very thoughtful analysis of social issues.

      Its more an "elseworld" story like The Man in the High Castle than it is sci-fi so I can understand why people used to space operas, techno-thrillers, and cyberpunk might not like a book that is a tad more sophisticated
    • Re:My thoughts (Score:3, Informative)

      by BRSQUIRRL (69271)
      You might be interested to know (or you might already know, actually :>), that "The Handmaid's Tale" was recently created in opera form [npr.org].
    • Re: The Handmaids Tale...

      Yes, the book does have a lot of feminist stigma attached to it, but am I the only person who thinks this has been blown out of all proportion...?

      The book is quite clearly more about the religious fanatics more than anything else. The whole of the US was whacked out by the Caste Wars, with the different religious factions warring on ad infinitum, spurred on by characters like Serena Joy - a woman! who now has to live in a prison of her own making.

      Personally, I think too many peop
  • by Ophidian P. Jones (466787) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:35PM (#7903988)
    Perhaps not. In terms of her use of language, form, depth of charaterisation etc. the 'The Blind Assassin' is technically Atwood's greatest novel so far.

    But having read all her novels, I've got to say that 'Oryx and Crake' is my personal favourite. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book, how engrossed I was with every word, and how moving, shocking and disturbing I found it. It's one of the best books I've ever read. It's one of those books that, once you've finished the last page, stays with you, and when you're not reading it you're thinking of it.

    And it's one of those books that, when you finally close it, you so wish that you could've put your name to it yourself. It's an immense work of imagination. I finished it well over a week ago and still think of it. I found it extraordinary. The way Atwood evokes her distopian futuristic world in every detail and makes it come alive and breathe is quite incredible. I was hooked.

    I was hoping it would be good but it far exceeded my expectations. The book's nightmarish vision of the future makes 'The Handmaid's Tale' look like a picnic, and while you're reading Atwood makes you live in that world, makes you feel what Snowman is feeling. What horror. Frighteningly, plausibly, brilliant!
    • In terms of her use of language, form, depth of charaterisation etc. the 'The Blind Assassin' is technically Atwood's greatest novel so far.

      Good lord that book was depressing. It was pretty good though.
    • Are you from the UK?? ;)

      8 of 9 people found the following review helpful: Atwood's Best?, July 11, 2003 Reviewer: A reader from Exeter, Devon United Kingdom

      Perhaps not. In terms of her use of language, form, depth of charaterisation etc. the 'The Blind Assassin' is technically Atwood's greatest novel so far. ........
  • I read this book. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I was disappointed because Oryx and Crake is uninspiring literature. Even on the level of just "story", I would opt for Jurassic Park for gripping narrative and vivid imagination. If I read Atwood, Golding, Grasse or others that I consider accomplished "literary" writers, I look for an aesthetic pleasure. Oryx and Crake just plods; there is little beyond the events and a few clever (and distracting) neologisms to carry one along. I wouldn't even take it on the plane for a good read.
  • Oryx & Crake (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is arguably one of the darkest dystopias I've read in a very long time. Atwood's genius lies in the fact she can take concepts in the present-day and extrapolate them to the furthest fictional limits without detaching from reality. If you think O & C is a brilliant book, go check out her earlier dystopia - The Handmaid's Tale. Oddly enough, her predictions in that book about America's future are starting to come true...
    • Oddly enough, her predictions in that book about America's future are starting to come true...

      Which predictions, the part about women being used as child-bearing slaves? What state do you live in?
  • Good book (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Though Atwood has said that she does not write science fiction, I believe that this book proves that statement to be misleading. To me this book is an excellent example of well-written soft science fiction. The story's somewhat disjointed narrative works well to evoke the narrator's jumbled memories of the events leading to the decimation of the human population. The character of Oryx doesn't seem very well fleshed out, and there is the sense that she just functions as a narrative jumping off point for the
    • Re:Good book (Score:4, Interesting)

      by iainl (136759) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:53PM (#7904155)
      "Atwood has said that she does not write science fiction"

      Science Fiction can't be good. This is good. Therefore it can't be SF. Its the same annoying argument that has English professors claiming 1984 and Slaughterhouse 5 are greats, while refusing to have anything to do with the latest Stephenson or whatever. Banksie must drive them up the wall.
    • It's a sad state of affairs indeed. But the shelves in my local book store are crammed with the novels that give SF a bad name.

      I'm also totally aware that Banks, Stephenson, Clarke at el write good books by any standard, but I can understand why other authors would want to disassociate themselves.

      Solutions? How about creating a new name for creative, literate SciFi?

      It worked for "Graphic Novels", right?

      I'm aware this is snobby, but it also happens to be true. It's those covers, man, I can't go near them
    • The story's somewhat disjointed narrative works well to evoke the narrator's jumbled memories of the events leading to the decimation of the human population.

      Decimation [hyperdictionary.com] like hell. I think you are trying to say extinction.

  • Um... if it's about the world ending, wouldn't that be closer to "Genesis" in reverse -- or just "Exodus"?
    Just wondering what exactly Adam and Eve have to do with the world beginning. They're just the biblical story of the "fall from grace" of mankind, unrelated to the creation of the earth.
    • Adam and Eve were [supposedly] the first humans, and the last of God's tasks related to the creation of the world. Please recall from the biblical point of view, the earth exists for the purpose of mankind. Adam and Eve are therefore intimately related to the creation of the earth.
    • Just wondering what exactly Adam and Eve have to do with the world beginning.

      Could be that part in Genesis 1:26-27 where God creates man as one act in the creation of the world...

  • I hated it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MonkeyBoyo (630427) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:42PM (#7904057)
    I only finished the book because there has been a lot of discussion of it. I found it badly written, pretentious, technically unknowledgeable, ..., and pandering to the sexuality of 14 year old boys (lots of discussion of penises and the only female character is a child prostitute).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      badly written, pretentious, technically unknowledgeable, ..., and pandering to the sexuality of 14 year old boys

      You just described a majority of comments posted on Slashdot.
    • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:02PM (#7904250)
      Given that the reviewer said "I haven't felt this satisfied after finishing a science fiction novel since Ender's Game", I'd say that badly written and pretentious was exactly the kind of book that he wanted to read.
      • So, I am not the only person to not like Enders game?

        The book where the genius had to decide what to do with a weapon that destroys anything it shoots?

        "Ender, we have the ultimate weapon. what should we do?"

        "uuhhh...fire it at their planet."

        "GENIUS!. us military types vener would have thought to do that!"

        uugghh

        • I simply don't understand why so many people are infatuated with the book. The characters are infuriatingly stereotypical, the plotline is old (and, as you mentioned, often nonsensical), and the writing is determinedly mediocre.

          To top it off, if you read the introduction to the book, the guy practically claims to have invented the idea of "wargames in space." It's one thing to write a piece of trash -- I've got plenty of those on my bookshelves -- but if you're going to brag, you ought to at least have s
    • Re:I hated it (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward


      I have seen this reaction a few times from nerds and I wonder why people are willing to dismiss a book because the science is a bit wonky.

      Seems to me that a book telling a tale like this would be boring as hell if the author broke out tech diagrams every now and then. Or worse, a long winded Larry Nivenish physics lesson.

      I don't think a book like this needs to have hard science behind it. If it did, no one would read it.

      Why nerds don't like sex in books is an easy one. They have no interest in a subje
      • I have seen this reaction a few times from jackasses and I wonder why people are willing to dismiss a poster because the topic is a bit nerdy.

        I'm completely fine with a book which has something probably not possible (say, long-distance personal teleportation) in an SF setting where the details are never discussed. That gives me no reason to think about it, and the author isn't trying to be pretentious about it. Even a very brief, non-detailed 'explanations' is okay ('using a phenomenon related to quantum

      • Re:I hated it (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jonathan (5011)
        Well, considering the whole point of the book is to *attack* science, not getting the facts right destroys her entire argument. But then, much like Creationist tracts, anti-science books are normally only preaching to the choir anyway, so there isn't much point to getting the facts right, I suppose.

        And the sex was only there to further libel scientists -- "look -- scientists are not just mad -- they're pedophiles too."
        • Well, considering the whole point of the book is to *attack* science, not getting the facts right destroys her entire argument. But then, much like Creationist tracts, anti-science books are normally only preaching to the choir anyway, so there isn't much point to getting the facts right, I suppose.

          I disagree. I don't think this books attacks science so much as it shows the darker sides of humanity's attitude towards scientific development. So long as the humanity part rings true, any wonkiness in the

      • "Why nerds don't like sex in books is an easy one"

        nerds don't have orgasms they have epiphanies.

        • by Tackhead (54550)
          > > Why nerds don't like sex in books is an easy one"
          >
          > nerds don't have orgasms they have epiphanies.

          Holy SHIT! I just figured out what you meant by that!

          (Pardon me, gotta go clean up now.)

    • Perhaps you were an odd 14-year-old, but Atwood is one of the last writers I'd expect to be accused of pandering to adolescents.

      She's an excellent writer, (my second favorite Canadian author after Robertson Davies [amazon.com]) and I've enjoyed some of her books such as

      Alias Grace [amazon.com], a historical novel about 19th century attitudes towards women and mental health.

      The Handmaid's Tale [amazon.com], a dystopian novel where Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell types have established a puritan, patriarchal society.

      The Robber Bride [amazon.com], a hilariou
    • and pandering to the sexuality of 14 year old boys (lots of discussion of penises and the only female character is a child prostitute).

      I disagree with your interpretation of that Character's description. It was included (imho) in order to show the chaos in the world. That reprehensible acts were tolerated and common place. This world was playing fast-and-loose with its fate, in every resepect, and this was a symptom.

      Those parts of the story were very disturbing -- i liked it. I especially liked her
  • I suggest "Memoirs of a Survivor" by Doris Lessing. When I read Oryx and Crane I really noticed the project that Lessing set out on in that book being 'tried on' by Atwood. Everyone focuses on 'Handmaiden' with Atwood (esp. knownothings), but her later stuff really is great. O&C might not rate though. It just felt like a riff on Lessing to me.
  • by clifyt (11768) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [rettamkinos]> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:54PM (#7904161) Homepage
    I've had an audible subscription for three months now, but *THIS* book was one of the best I've heard so far. Shit, I picked up my iPod two years back solely to use for Books on CD and things like that, but it was too damn annoying to use until Apple licensed the Audible content and decided to allow you to pause the chapter and listen to music and then come back to the same pause in that file.

    I picked up Ender's Game on Audible as well, and it was cool (I actually got more out of Speaker of the Dead in dead tree format) but it just didn't do it as well as this one did.

    Great oration and it enhances the story instead of detracting from it (I've picked up serveral tha I got part of the way into the dead tree versions and had to stop because of workloads...and thought I'd finish them up on an airflight -- I can't read while in the air for some reason -- or one one of my many drives to Nashville lately...7 hours of mundate pushings of the gas pedal).

    If you were ever interested in checking out these kinds of services, check it out...the only problem I had was there wasn't a real resolution to the book...it feels like a halfway end...it finishes the story of Crake and Oryx (characters in the book), while never finishing the story of the 'Snowman' -- the lead narrator telling the story of C&O, but far more interesting than it seems eiher of them ever were. Oryx is too one dimensional to care about as anything but a prop, and Crake is just...well, he too is one dimensional, but that is mainly from the narriation as opposed to his actual being. I just couldn't bring myself to caring whatever happened to Oryx, and Crake just projected himself too far into the future (especially since this is a latter retelling of the tale...hindsight is always 20/20) that his end of the story was told far before ya ever got the intimate details...no, the REAL story is about Snowman, and it was left unfinished.

    Lets hope this is a big enough seller that Atwood feels like revisiting it soon and gives it a proper ending...
    • allow you to pause the chapter and listen to music and then come back to the same pause in that file.

      That's something I wish XMMS (or even WinAmp) could do. Instead, I've been using knotes to manually keep track of my of audio bookmarks in XX:XX form.

      --

  • That I have lost track of who has it now. Atwood created a well defined near future. She made a mistake or two when it came to potential technologies, but her humans behave the way they should. If we could vote on the ranking of this book i would give it a 9/10.
  • Another Opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nanojath (265940) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:56PM (#7904192) Homepage Journal
    Personally I didn't like this book as much as the several others I've read by Atwood. I found the speculative premises simplistic and contrived, ignoring the complexities of ecology in favor of an essentially alarmist, naive presentation of The Horrible Dangers of Tampering with Nature!! This is increased by the use of this character of the catastrophe-inducing mad-genius scientist, when the real story of global ecology is our actions as a collective 6-billion strong (and still rising, falling sperm counts notwithstanding)


    I didn't hate the book and found it a quick and reasonably compelling read, but it didn't really leave any lasting impression or make me feel like I had learned anything. I've generally liked Atwaters writing and in particular the Handmaid's Tale, so this particular opinion may be best judged by that taste. The book just seemed pretty slight to me, despite the end-of-the-world type premise. I'd say if you're an Atwater fan it's worth a read but if you dig on hard-science speculative fiction you'll probably be dissapointed.

    • Another review (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jonathan (5011)
      Exactly. There's no new ideas there, just the old mildewy mad scientist meme, that goes all the way to Frankenstein and actually even further into the medieval legend of Dr. Faustus.

      I wrote a review of the book shortly after returning from four years living in Canada, where Atwood is of course revered.

      Oryx and Crake
      Margaret Atwood, 2003
      Doubleday

      Margaret Atwood is probably the most famous living Canadian author. However, despite living in Canada for four years, I never got around to reading any of her wor
      • In summary, I don't think that Atwood's high reputation could have been based on such cartoonish work. I can only assume this is one of her lesser works.

        That's how I took it. I don't really think Atwood is a science fiction writer at all - The Handmaid's Tale, for instance, is not particularly a science fiction tale. Speculative, yes. It is not even predominantly a feminist novel, in my opinion, though it is usually painted as such. It is mainly a political novel and its primary target is religious f

    • Nice one-stop shop for Atwood's literary career


      http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Atwood

  • I listened to this audiobook earlier last year and loved it.

    The narration was excellent. The book was like a fine candy to enjoy. When I was done, I was both satisfied and saddened to leave the characters behind. I would *not* like to see the book extended to a sequel; I think the enjoyable flavor of the book is dependent on being brief and ambiguous at the end.

    This is absolutely one of my favorite titles. If you dig apocalyptic tales, ever played Wasteland on your computer, enjoyed the Mad Max movie
    • I don't know about your reading of Snow Crash. Stephenson didn't seem too interested in warning us of "dangerous corporatism" - Gibson had done that already, and Snow Crash is more like a parody of the corporate feudalism theme. Nor was Stephenson pining for a "tranditional government social balance" - the remains of the government are treated more harshly than any other organization in Snow Crash.

      Finally, the book was not apocalyptic. It was placed in a setting most would associate with apocalyptic ficti
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:25PM (#7904550) Homepage
    That team was also working on a line of bathroom towels that would behave in much the same way, but they hadn't yet solved the marine-life fundamentals: when algae got wet it swelled up and began to grow, and the test subjects so far had not liked the sight of their towels from the night before puffing up like rectangular marshmallows and inching across the bathroom floor.

    "Wave of the future," said Crake."

    towlie [southparkstudios.com]
  • Margaret Attwood doesn't write science fiction. When asked she said:

    "No, it certainly isn't science fiction. Science fiction is filled with Martians and space travel to other planets, and things like that.".

    She cannot risk it being science fiction because it won't be accepted as 'real' literature.
    • A rose by any other name, is still a rose.

      Perhaps whe should write a story in which future developents plays an important role if she doesn't want to write Sci-Fi. you know, Fictious events that happen with science.

      If that is an actual quote, it makes her come off as an idiot.
      • I don't know if the original is a quote, but this is [broadway.org.uk]:

        When people think 'science-fiction' they usually think Star Trek, or they think Star Wars, or they think War of the Worlds - you know, talking squid ... talking cannibalistic squid. And I saw a huge range of sci-fi B-movies in the 50s: the glory days, those low budget ones with names like The Creeping Eye, which was quite good until you actually saw it! You could see the tractor tied underneath as it crept along! So that's what people think of when they

    • I was going to start this post by vehemently stating that "Just because it has a futuristic setting and genetic engineering, does not necessarily mean that Oryx and Crake is sci-fi."

      But then I wondered: what -- beyond a setting that is integral to the development of the story -- makes something science fiction?

      Personally, I don't think Oryx and Crake is sci-fi -- it just doesn't read like most science fiction. It's more emotional and personal than that, and deals more thoroughly with complex relationshi

  • Im currently reading Stephen Baxter's Manifold: Space - It is a very interesting read, however I must say at about the half way mark, the book is very depressing when you look at the overall picture it has created.

    I dont like depressing, the snow and ice does it well enough for me.

  • Also reviewed on k5. (Score:4, Informative)

    by waxmop (195319) <waxmop@overlook.hom e l i n u x.net> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @03:00PM (#7904905)
    I wrote this review of Oryx and Crake [kuro5hin.org] for k5 [kuro5hin.org] back in June of 2003. In a lot of Margaret Atwood's stuff, there's a theme where people try to understand/make peace with some inexplicable tragedy. At the end of Oryx and Crake, I felt like it wasn't clear why Crake decided to wipe out humanity; that may have been Atwood's intention.

    Anyway, I'm happy to see something besides Flash Gordon science fiction getting reviews here.

    • So one of the title characters decides to wipe out humanity...so much for the surprise, huh. I guess I don't need to bother reading this one. I really should stop reading reviews...
  • The novel is a mad scientist story, where humans play God for pleasure and profit. It's a last-human-left-alive story. It's a projection of a dystopic future, where all political and economic power is held by militaristic corporations. Most of these themes have been explored before...
    The castaways struggled desperately to get off the island, but were doomed to failure in the end via some fatalistic misadventure. This theme has been explored before...
  • 32 reviews! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Very Geeky Books [verygeekybooks.com] has links to 32 more reviews!
  • Of course, I've read only this one [gearbits.com].
  • Is that too much to ask for? I'd like to know who wrote the book before I click on the review for it, frankly, so that I don't waste my time on a review of the latest Eddings or Goodkind claptrap.
  • I too listened to the Audible.com version of this book and while I found the book to be okay, with a few memorable bits, the ending ruined the book for me. You have to read the entire book before you have the whole picture of "what happened" and then it abruptly ends, and I mean abruptly. Most books have peaks and valleys of the plot while things happen, tension is created, then resolved. There is none of that in this book. Within the first few pages we know/deduce WHAT happened to the world that ended it "
    • Snowman starves and lives in a tree even though the world is full of
      empty houses and the supermarkets are full of canned goods.
      To create a convincing science catastrophy it would be more fun
      if the basic science were not so obviously bogus.
      First, Crake would do what every creature does,
      destroy the creatures that are NOT LIKE HIMSELF.
      Second, his utopian creation could never be anything other than
      a short-lived peaceful society
      because of basic Darwinian principles.
      The author should have read the basic (not diff
  • Wait, Margaret Atwood is my grade 13 english (in Ontario in 1987) nightmare author - She's supposed to write real literature, not stuff that I would normally want to read. How can it be reviewed on /. ?

    Is the reverse true? That Stephen King (who is discussed lots on slashdot) could have been one of the authors we had to read in english class? What dimension did I miss out on.
    • Is the reverse true? That Stephen King (who is discussed lots on slashdot) could have been one of the authors we had to read in english class?

      You could do much worse. His short stories are much better than his turgid doorstop bestselling novels. King has a number of anthologies, look particularly for stories first published in F&SF.

  • That's "unbelievable" not as in "I can't believe it", but rather "I don't believe it". Atwood's division of future society into insular, privileged enclaves and downtrodden, dangerous "pleeblands" (she gets a Tin Pen award for that poor neologism) is simply not believable. C'mon -- we're already well into an era when there are more ways to communicate than ever before. Yet the novel's privileged characters grow up with no contact with the other class? Please. Come back when you've got a realistic vision of

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