Friday, January 07, 2005

Oryx and Crake

I have just finished reading Margaret Atwood's excellent book Oryx and Crake, what the New Yorker called "Towering and intrepid....Atwood does Orwell one better." I have to agree. I was much more scared about the future of our planet and human life after reading this book than I was after reading Huxley's' Brave New World or Orwell's 1984. The other book I might lump into this list is Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos which bears a stronger similarity to Atwood's book than the other two. In both Atwood's and Vonnegut's future world the human race is wiped out.

Vonnegut's book, however, left me feeling angry when I read it 20 years ago. I should reread it today and see if my reaction is different. Atwood's book scared me. Sure, we all know that we are destroying the environment, that there are too many of us, that modern biotech is breeding all sorts of strange new creatures. But Atwood paints a realistic picture of where that could all take us in the not-too-distant future. And a description of the sudden collapse of civilization that is chilling.

I highly recommend reading this book. In addition to being an important set of ideas about where the human race may be headed, it is also beautifully written. And to the person who recommended that I read this book -- thanks a lot, I'll get you back :-)

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