Narrator: Campbell Scott
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #1
Published by Random House Audio on May 6th 2003
Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Canada, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Also by this author: The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, The Handmaid's Tale
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, and 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 wilderness 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 imagining.
I am astounded at how fascinating this was.
The story opens with Snowman, a hermit of sorts, struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic society that has experienced an originally unknown catastrophic event. Snowman is seemingly the last human left on earth, with only the Craker’s to keep him company but they are far from being close to human.
We’re treated to flashbacks to Snowman’s childhood, back when he was known as Jimmy, back before the entire Earth was changed. His parents were scientists that dealt in genetic manipulation and were in charge of creating pigoons, pigs which were engineered solely to grow human organs for transplants. We’re also introduced to Crake, a childhood friend of Jimmy’s who goes on to become a brilliant geneticist and the creator of the pill and the project behind the Craker’s.
‘They were inextricably linked—the Pill and the Project. The Pill would put a stop to haphazard reproduction, the Project would replace it with a superior method. They were two stages of a single plan, you might say.’
Oryx and Crake is much more philosophical than I had anticipated. This is a story of altering the human design to create the perfect creature. Crake intended on playing ‘God’ in order to design the perfect human being that would not continue to destroy the Earth and while it’s easy to call his actions wrong, it could also be construed as genius. The Craker’s are peaceful creatures that are physically perfect and lack any sort of violent thoughts or sexual drives and treat the Earth with far more care than any human ever did. The question remains: even if we have the power to alter life itself, do we have the right to do it? Even if it benefits the Earth and possibly saves it for future generations? But what purpose is that if all humanity is killed off for created creatures to continue living so as to repopulate the Earth? Oryx and Crake definitely raises some interesting questions.
I loved the brief glimpses into the past. We’re already given a glimpse of the world as it is “now”: Snowman is the only human remaining, he’s practically starving to death and the Earth has been ransacked. What was the catalyst that caused this change? How long has Snowman been forced to live like this? Slowly we’re given answers and paints a shocking picture. Margaret Atwood is an amazingly inventive writer and has created a world that is both inconceivable and convincing.