1. Oryx and Crake includes many details that
seem futuristic, but are in fact already apparent in our world.
What parallels were you able to draw between the items in the world
of the novel and those in your own?
2. Margaret Atwood coined many words and brand names while
writing the novel. In what way has technology changed your
vocabulary over the past five years?
3. The game "Extinctathon" emerges as a key component in the
novel. Jimmy and Crake also play "Barbarian Stomp" and "Blood and
Roses." What comparable video games do you know of? What is your
opinion of arcades that feature virtual violence? Discuss the
advantages and dangers of virtual reality. Is the novel form itself
a sort of virtual reality?
4. If you were creating the game "Blood and Roses," what other
"Blood" items would you add? What other "Rose" items?
5. If you had the chance to fabricate an improved human being,
would you do it? If so, what features would you choose to
incorporate? Why would these be better than what we''ve got? Your
model must of course be biologically viable.
6. The pre-catastrophic society in Oryx and
Crake is fixated on physical perfection and longevity,
much as our own society is. Discuss the irony of these quests, both
within the novel and in our own society.
7. One aspect of the novel''s society is the virtual elimination
of the middle class. Economic and intellectual disparities, as well
as the disappearance of safe public space, allow for few
alternatives: People live either in the tightly controlled
Compounds of the elites, or in the more open but seedier and more
dangerous Pleeblands. Where would your community find itself in the
world of Oryx and Crake?
8. Snowman soon discovers that despite himself he''s invented a
new creation myth, simply by trying to think up comforting answers
to the "why" questions of the Children of Crake. In Part Seven -
the chapter entitled "Purring" - Crake claims that "God is a
cluster of neurons," though he''s had trouble eradicating religious
experiences without producing zombies. Do you agree with Crake? Do
Snowman''s origin stories negate or enhance your views on
spirituality and how it evolves among various cultures?
9. How might the novel change if narrated by Oryx? Do any
similarities exist between her early life and Snowman''s? Do you
always believe what she says?
10. Why does Snowman feel compelled to protect the benign
Crakers, who can''t understand him and can never be his close
friends? Do you believe that the Crakers would be capable of
survival in our own society?
11. In the world of Oryx and Crake,
almost everything is for sale, and a great deal of power is now in
the hands of large corporations and their private security forces.
There are already more private police in North America than there
are public ones. What are the advantages of such a system? What are
12. In what ways does the dystopia of Oryx and
Crake compare to those depicted in novels such as
Brave New World,
451, and in Atwood''s The Handmaid''s
Tale? What is the difference between speculative fiction -
which Atwood claims to write - and science fiction proper?
13. The book has two epigraphs, one from Jonathan Swift''s
Gulliver''s Travels and one from Virginia Woolf''s
To the Lighthouse. Why do you think these
14. The ending of the novel is open, allowing for tantalizing
speculation. How do you envision Snowman''s future? What about the
future of humanity - both within the novel, and outside its