Oryx And Crake

Paperback | July 28, 2009

byMargaret Atwood

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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.

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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...

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. A ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 7.98 × 5.2 × 0.87 inPublished:July 28, 2009Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:030739848X

ISBN - 13:9780307398482

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing (and at some points confusing!) Novel I was really drawn into this book and it was an amazing ride. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Date published: 2016-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Post and Pre Apocalyptic Like You've Never Seen This book bounces back between a post-apocalyptic world and the world that caused it. In the post-apocalyptic world, we see the main character deal with ennui of living in a strange world where nothing is as he would like it. In the per-apocalyptic flashbacks, we see a world doomed to end that is perhaps a little too much like our own.
Date published: 2015-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome book By far the best of the three books. I've read Atwood before, some I've liked and others not so much, but this is one of her best. Keep on reading this series.
Date published: 2014-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome book Margaret Atwood is heralded as one of the greatest living contemporary writers, and she lives up to her reputation with Oryx and Crake. The novel follows the story of a character named Snowman, in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world in an unspecified near future, and while the themes fall in the realm of science fiction- genetic engineering, transgenic organisms, biological warfare- the writing transcends the typical genre novel. Oryx and Crake explores issues that are already problematic in today's society and and speculates on what could possibly happen, using these possibilities as a way to offer insight into the bigger philosophical themes of life and humanity: nature versus nurture, love, sex, obsession, disease and death. It's a book I would recommend anyone to read. The book forms the first part of a trilogy, the other two are, The Year of the Flood and Maddaddam. I haven't read either of those yet, so I've got The Year of the Flood lined up next!
Date published: 2014-08-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome book Another amazing story by Margaret Atwood - one book in a trilogy. The story is compelling; you are drawn into this fantasy world from the first chapter. Atwood is a true Canadian master story-teller.
Date published: 2014-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Atwood at her Finest I picked up this book for no extraordinary reason. It was on sale for 15$ and the cover was cool. Little did I know that I would be swept into a world of intrigue, suspense and philosophical discussions. Ever since The Hunger Games and Divergent came out, I've been tired of dystopian novels and speculative fiction. Oryx and Crake is different... it's dark, mesmerizing and very adult. It's a breath of fresh air to the genre. First off, the overall storyline is amazing. Going back and forth to the present and the past ensures that the reader is constantly asking questions. You are desperate to find out the ending... but you don't want to finish the book. The characters are intriguing, and a lot of them are people that you love-to-hate. To be honest, I hate Jimmy as a character... he's narcissistic, misogynistic and pretentious. But, his motives remain fascinating throughout the novel. Crake is extremely likable and a little scary... and Oryx... well... I don't know she's unique. I'm reading The Year of The Flood right now and I have to admit it isn't as good as Oryx and Crake... but this trilogy does prove that Margaret Atwood hasn't lost her wit and her willingness to provoke.
Date published: 2014-04-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An Intriguing Speculative Fiction Oryx and Crake is the story of Snowman who lives alone in a post-apocalyptic world where the coastal cities of North America are under water, and strange animals roam free. Flashbacks show us how Snowman came to be the last survivor of his kind after an epidemic killed the rest of the human race. At first, I must say that I was a little put off by the main character and narrator, Snowman. I didn’t particularly like him: he is an anti-hero, full of flaws. He is lazy and cowardly, and he doesn’t have much qualms about betraying his friends. But then, as the story progresses, I couldn't help but wonder what I would have done in the same situation. And the scary part of the book is that Margaret Atwood based her speculative fiction on real breakthroughs in genetic engineering. So the future of Oryx and Crake might become our future in a few decades… Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.
Date published: 2014-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Novel Wow! If you are a fan of Atwood's style of writing this is a successful foray into the world of distopian science fiction. Well done, a page turner from start to finish! :-D
Date published: 2014-03-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Oryx and Crake Good read But very weird
Date published: 2014-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oryx and Crake Part one of Margaret Atwood's trilogy which talks about not too distant future which is frightening and thought provoking especially since it seems to be unavoidable if the humanity continues on the present path of nature destruction under the rule of the money oriented corporations. Brilliantly written, a real page turner. One of the best I have ever read. I love the way the story is interwoven with the second book of this trilogy, The Year of the Flood. This trilogy is not to be missed. I cannot wait to read the third book, MaddAddam
Date published: 2014-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling A new author for me to enjoy, and what a way to start
Date published: 2014-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Compelling An easy read but well written. The story is original and exciting.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling A very thought provoking story that is possibly a look to the future. I was drawn to all the characters and was unable to put the book down. Atwood's ability to have you sympathize with Snowman and then endure moments of great dislike for him kept me reading to see what was next. Can't wait to read the next book!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I couldn't put it down, the characters are amazing, the story is layered and compelling, and love Margaret Atwood's style of writing. Now on to Year of the Flood!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it. Already on to the Waterless Flood.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oryx and Crake second read I remember this being a great read and seeing the last book in trilogy released it was time for another read. Great!
Date published: 2014-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oryx Scary because it might actually happen. So well written. Had a hard time putting it down.
Date published: 2013-12-10
Rated out of 5 by from Top-Notch Literary Dystopic/Post-apocalyptic Fiction I read Oryx and Crake years ago and loved it. But, upon the recent release of the the final novel in Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, I decided to re-read O&C and Year of the Flood (book 2). O&C takes place in a not to distant future, where corporations seem to have the real power, control the police forces and constantly experiment with genetic modifications. Jimmy (or Snowman) is our main character here. The book opens with him, as Snowman, after a disease has wiped out all of humanity but himself and the Crakers, a group of genetically engineered humans specifically designed by Crake himself to be the 'perfect people'. They are given all sorts of interesting and useful traits pulled from different species in nature. They 'purr' to heal injures, they have built-in insect repellant and their genitals turn blue when it's time to mate. There is no jealousy, no war, no religion. Very fascinating creatures. Slowly we learn Jimmy's story before everyone dies. His friendship with Crake is at the heart of the novel, as the genius boy Crake has caused everything to be the way it is, perhaps by being too smart for his own good. O&C focuses on the privaleged life of the people in the 'compounds', the areas run by the corporations. There's a lot of 'playing God' going around at this time and you relize you're not fully sure if you want to embrace some of these scientific achievements or destroy these betrayels of nature. "Adam named the living animals, MaddAddam names the dead ones."
Date published: 2013-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oryx and Crake Wow, can't wait to see where this is going!
Date published: 2013-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome book Definitely worth the read, very intriguing, storyline keeps you guessing. Can't read to finish the trilogy!
Date published: 2013-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Scary real! This is the second time I've read this book, I loved it the first time and find it more frightening now as I retread it, to refresh my memory in anticipation of reading MaddAdam. Now though it seems more like a scenario of possibility in our crazy world of GM foods, bio terrorism, crazy religious fanatics, etc.. Than just a wonderful work of fiction. What a great story, better now than the first time.
Date published: 2013-09-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Scary real! Loved this book! What's so frightening is her story is so plausible.
Date published: 2013-09-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing..... At first, I wasn't sure about this novel. Thankfully, I quickly became engrossed. What's extremely creepy about Oryx and Crake is the story is absolutely plausible in our now & our future. Can't wait to get into book 2
Date published: 2013-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shockingly great read I found this book to be a great read. It is only my second Margaret Atwood book and I now wonder how she managed to stay off my literary radar for so long. Oryx and Crake is the story of a plague survivor as he deals with his present and reviews the events that brought him to his current situation. He tells us of his early years and his friendships, particularly that with the two title characters. We see the friends grow, drift apart and reunite. We learn that each has a hidden agenda of which the protagonist is unaware. We learn of his inability to develop a lasting relationship with any woman and we see how he rationalizes situations to make them fit his wishes. All of these memories unfurl while Snowman adapts to the new species that have survived the plague, develops ways to avoid the predators created by the now defunct technology in which he was raised, and tries to avoid becoming or creating a god for the species for which he has, unexplained until the end, been given responsibility. A novel about technology, its police state paranoia, the resistance and the result. How far in the future is this reality? Will we avoid it? Read Oryx and Crake and then read on.
Date published: 2013-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pigoons and wolvogs and Crakers Oh My! What an imagination. Move over Orwell, Huxley and the rest. Atwood is the new chronicler of the Apocalypse genre.
Date published: 2013-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A possible future I’m finally working through the books I’ve read but neglected to review, and this one comes in 12 months after. Margaret Atwood is an icon in the Canadian, and international, literary scene. And this is why. “Oryx and Crake” is so brilliantly thought out and executed, and even with its dystopian setting, it shines through as being very relevant contemporarily. This was my first foray into the literary mind of Margaret Atwood, and this has now made me a fan. She does speculative fiction, as she calls it, with a very sensible mind – always knowing how it grounds to reality and how it touches the reader by not being overbearing in its dystopian theme. The characters – Snowman and Jimmy, Oryx and Crake – are made so relatable and accessible despite their mysterious identities. You feel Snowman’s solitude as he recounts memories from a previous life that he himself finds unfamiliar. Most importantly are the social commentaries and critiques of society past, present, and future. Atwood’s dystopia is quite terrifyingly possible which makes it all the harder to read mentally and emotionally. Being the first book in the MaddAddam trilogy, I only see more harrowing tales to come in its sequel, “The Year of the Flood,” which I’m eager to read, and the final unpublished book.
Date published: 2012-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Frighteningly Familiar This is my first Margaret Atwood book and I wasn't disappointed. At first, I did not know what to expect. In fact, I was sure that I was going to hate it. After all, Snowman seemed like a pretty strange character and who or what are Oryx and Crake? I made myself read it anyway, finding myself more engrossed into the story with each page I read. I have experienced other dystopian fiction and thought that this would be another intriguing but disturbing story. However, I found myself reading something more lighthearted and complex. Soon enough, I began reacting emotionally to Snowman's story. The novel is incredibly relatable to the trends of our outer world and the intricate feelings of our inner world. I recommend it with all my heart, definitely a good read!
Date published: 2010-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turner I am not usually a fan of sci-fi, but this story is very engaging. I was taken aback by the extrapolation of some of our social practises and scientific enterprises into an apocalyptic future. It all seem so believable, while being horrifying. The shred of humanity that remains at the end provides a very open-ended and thought provoking conclusion.
Date published: 2009-11-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Twisted For years I have heard what a wonderful writer Margaret Atwood is. The hype, the awards, the media attention, all-raving about this `marvellous' author. I thought, given the glowing reviews I had read, and the fact the storyline sounded appealing, I'd pick up a copy of Oryx and Crake. I wish I hadn't. While Ms. Atwood may be touted as a world-class writer, I beg to differ. Being able to write endless crass filth and garbage, peppered with foul language does not make for a good read. Uncomfortable yes, good no. I stopped my voyage into these repulsive pages short, and decided to use the book in the only manner that seemed fit. To date this has been the most expensive piece of kindling I have ever purchased. I can most assuredly say that I will not make this mistake again. To say you can write, then produce something that is full of disgusting visuals and inappropriate language is a slap in the face of all genuine authors. Unfortunately this is the type of swill that many people enjoy, and no wonder, since this tripe is flaunted as acceptable and the norm. To me the only thing this book accomplished was the destruction of numerous innocent trees to fuel the minds of the twisted. Save your money and time.
Date published: 2009-10-02

Extra Content

Read from the Book

1 MangoSnowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.On the eastern horizon there's a greyish haze, lit now with a rosy, deadly glow. Strange how that colour still seems tender. The offshore towers stand out in dark silhouette against it, rising improbably out of the pink and pale blue of the lagoon. The shrieks of the birds that nest out there and the distant ocean grinding against the ersatz reefs of rusted car parts and jumbled bricks and assorted rubble sound almost like holiday traffic.Out of habit he looks at his watch - stainless-steel case, burnished aluminum band, still shiny although it no longer works. He wears it now as his only talisman. A blank face is what it shows him: zero hour. It causes a jolt of terror to run through him, this absence of official time. Nobody nowhere knows what time it is."Calm down," he tells himself. He takes a few deep breaths, then scratches his bug bites, around but not on the itchiest places, taking care not to knock off any scabs: blood poisoning is the last thing he needs. Then he scans the ground below for wildlife: all quiet, no scales and tails. Left hand, right foot, right hand, left foot, he makes his way down from the tree. After brushing off the twigs and bark, he winds his dirty bedsheet around himself like a toga. He's hung his authentic-replica Red Sox baseball cap on a branch overnight for safekeeping; he checks inside it, flicks out a spider, puts it on.He walks a couple of yards to the left, pisses into the bushes. "Heads up," he says to the grasshoppers that whir away at the impact. Then he goes to the other side of the tree, well away from his customary urinal, and rummages around in the cache he's improvised from a few slabs of concrete, lining it with wire mesh to keep out the rats and mice. He's stashed some mangoes there, knotted in a plastic bag, and a can of Sveltana No-Meat Cocktail Sausages, and a precious half-bottle of Scotch - no, more like a third - and a chocolate-flavoured energy bar scrounged from a trailer park, limp and sticky inside its foil. He can't bring himself to eat it yet: it might be the last one he'll ever find. He keeps a can opener there too, and for no particular reason an ice pick; and six empty beer bottles, for sentimental reasons and for storing fresh water. Also his sunglasses; he puts them on. One lens is missing but they're better than nothing.He undoes the plastic bag: there's only a single mango left. Funny, he remembered more. The ants have got in, even though he tied the bag as tightly as he could. Already they're running up his arms, the black kind and the vicious little yellow kind. Surprising what a sharp sting they can give, especially the yellow ones. He rubs them away."It is the strict adherence to daily routine that tends towards the maintenance of good morale and the preservation of sanity," he says out loud. He has the feeling he's quoting from a book, some obsolete, ponderous directive written in aid of European colonials running plantations of one kind or another. He can't recall ever having read such a thing, but that means nothing. There are a lot of blank spaces in his stub of a brain, where memory used to be. Rubber plantations, coffee plantations, jute plantations. (What was jute?) They would have been told to wear solar topis, dress for dinner, refrain from raping the natives. It wouldn't have said raping. Refrain from fraternizing with the female inhabitants. Or, put some other way . . .He bets they didn't refrain, though. Nine times out of ten."In view of the mitigating," he says. He finds himself standing with his mouth open, trying to remember the rest of the sentence. He sits down on the ground and begins to eat the mango.FlotsamOn the white beach, ground-up coral and broken bones, a group of the children are walking. They must have been swimming, they're still wet and glistening. They should be more careful: who knows what may infest the lagoon? But they're unwary; unlike Snowman, who won't dip a toe in there even at night, when the sun can't get at him. Revision: especially at night.He watches them with envy, or is it nostalgia? It can't be that: he never swam in the sea as a child, never ran around on a beach without any clothes on. The children scan the terrain, stoop, pick up flotsam; then they deliberate among themselves, keeping some items, discarding others; their treasures go into a torn sack. Sooner or later - he can count on it - they'll seek him out where he sits wrapped in his decaying sheet, hugging his shins and sucking on his mango, in under the shade of the trees because of the punishing sun. For the children - thick-skinned, resistant to ultraviolet - he's a creature of dimness, of the dusk.Here they come now. "Snowman, oh Snowman," they chant in their singsong way. They never stand too close to him. Is that from respect, as he'd like to think, or because he stinks?(He does stink, he knows that well enough. He's rank, he's gamy, he reeks like a walrus - oily, salty, fishy - not that he's ever smelled such a beast. But he's seen pictures.)Opening up their sack, the children chorus, "Oh Snowman, what have we found?" They lift out the objects, hold them up as if offering them for sale: a hubcap, a piano key, a chunk of pale-green pop bottle smoothed by the ocean. A plastic BlyssPluss container, empty; a ChickieNobs Bucket O'Nubbins, ditto. A computer mouse, or the busted remains of one, with a long wiry tail.Snowman feels like weeping. What can he tell them? There's no way of explaining to them what these curious items are, or were. But surely they've guessed what he'll say, because it's always the same."These are things from before." He keeps his voice kindly but remote. A cross between pedagogue, soothsayer, and benevolent uncle - that should be his tone."Will they hurt us?" Sometimes they find tins of motor oil, caustic solvents, plastic bottles of bleach. Booby traps from the past. He's considered to be an expert on potential accidents: scalding liquids, sickening fumes, poison dust. Pain of odd kinds."These, no," he says. "These are safe." At this they lose interest, let the sack dangle. But they don't go away: they stand, they stare. Their beachcombing is an excuse. Mostly they want to look at him, because he's so unlike them. Every so often they ask him to take off his sunglasses and put them on again: they want to see whether he has two eyes really, or three."Snowman, oh Snowman," they're singing, less to him than to one another. To them his name is just two syllables. They don't know what a snowman is, they've never seen snow.It was one of Crake's rules that no name could be chosen for which a physical equivalent - even stuffed, even skeletal - could not be demonstrated. No unicorns, no griffins, no manticores or basilisks. But those rules no longer apply, and it's given Snowman a bitter pleasure to adopt this dubious label. The Abominable Snowman - existing and not existing, flickering at the edges of blizzards, apelike man or manlike ape, stealthy, elusive, known only through rumours and through its backward-pointing footprints. Mountain tribes were said to have chased it down and killed it when they had the chance. They were said to have boiled it, roasted it, held special feasts; all the more exciting, he supposes, for bordering on cannibalism.For present purposes he's shortened the name. He's only Snowman. He's kept the abominable to himself, his own secret hair shirt.After a few moments of hesitation the children squat down in a half-circle, boys and girls together. A couple of the younger ones are still munching on their breakfasts, the green juice running down their chins. It's discouraging how grubby everyone gets without mirrors. Still, they're amazingly attractive, these children - each one naked, each one perfect, each one a different skin colour - chocolate, rose, tea, butter, cream, honey - but each with green eyes. Crake's aesthetic.They're gazing at Snowman expectantly. They must be hoping he'll talk to them, but he isn't in the mood for it today. At the very most he might let them see his sunglasses, up close, or his shiny, dysfunctional watch, or his baseball cap. They like the cap, but don't understand his need for such a thing - removable hair that isn't hair - and he hasn't yet invented a fiction for it.They're quiet for a bit, staring, ruminating, but then the oldest one starts up. "Oh Snowman, please tell us - what is that moss growing out of your face?" The others chime in. "Please tell us, please tell us!" No nudging, no giggling: the question is serious."Feathers," he says.They ask this question at least once a week. He gives the same answer. Even over such a short time - two months, three? He's lost count - they've accumulated a stock of lore, of conjecture about him: Snowman was once a bird but he's forgotten how to fly and the rest of his feathers fell out, and so he is cold and he needs a second skin, and he has to wrap himself up. No: he's cold because he eats fish, and fish are cold. No: he wraps himself up because he's missing his man thing, and he doesn't want us to see. That's why he won't go swimming. Snowman has wrinkles because he once lived underwater and it wrinkled up his skin. Snowman is sad because the others like him flew away over the sea, and now he is all alone."I want feathers too," says the youngest. A vain hope: no beards on the men, among the Children of Crake. Crake himself had found beards irrational; also he'd been irritated by the task of shaving, so he'd abolished the need for it. Though not of course for Snowman: too late for him.Now they all begin at once. "Oh Snowman, oh Snowman, can we have feathers too, please?""No," he says."Why not, why not?" sing the two smallest ones."Just a minute, I'll ask Crake." He holds his watch up to the sky, turns it around on his wrist, then puts it to his ear as if listening to it. They follow each motion, enthralled. "No," he says."Crake says you can't. No feathers for you. Now piss off.""Piss off? Piss off?" They look at one another, then at him. He's made a mistake, he's said a new thing, one that's impossible to explain. Piss isn't something they'd find insulting. "What is piss off?""Go away!" He flaps his sheet at them and they scatter, running along the beach. They're still not sure whether to be afraid of him, or how afraid. He hasn't been known to harm a child, but his nature is not fully understood. There's no telling what he might do.Voice"Now I'm alone," he says out loud. "All, all alone. Alone on a wide, wide sea." One more scrap from the burning scrapbook in his head.Revision: seashore.He feels the need to hear a human voice - a fully human voice, like his own. Sometimes he laughs like a hyena or roars like a lion - his idea of a hyena, his idea of a lion. He used to watch old DVDs of such creatures when he was a child: those animal-behaviour programs featuring copulation and growling and innards, and mothers licking their young. Why had he found them so reassuring?Or he grunts and squeals like a pigoon, or howls like a wolvog: Aroo! Aroo! Sometimes in the dusk he runs up and down on the sand, flinging stones at the ocean and screaming, Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! He feels better afterwards.He stands up and raises his arms to stretch, and his sheet falls off. He looks down at his body with dismay: the grimy, bug-bitten skin, the salt-and-pepper tufts of hair, the thickening yellow toenails. Naked as the day he was born, not that he can remember a thing about that. So many crucial events take place behind people's backs, when they aren't in a position to watch: birth and death, for instance. And the temporary oblivion of sex."Don't even think about it," he tells himself. Sex is like drink, it's bad to start brooding about it too early in the day.He used to take good care of himself; he used to run, work out at the gym. Now he can see his own ribs: he's wasting away. Not enough animal protein. A woman's voice says caressingly in his ear, Nice buns! It isn't Oryx, it's some other woman. Oryx is no longer very talkative."Say anything," he implores her. She can hear him, he needs to believe that, but she's giving him the silent treatment. "What can I do?" he asks her. "You know I . . ."Oh, nice abs! comes the whisper, interrupting him. Honey, just lie back. Who is it? Some tart he once bought. Revision, professional sex-skills expert. A trapeze artist, rubber spine, spangles glued onto her like the scales of a fish. He hates these echoes. Saints used to hear them, crazed lice-infested hermits in their caves and deserts. Pretty soon he'll be seeing beautiful demons, beckoning to him, licking their lips, with red-hot nipples and flickering pink tongues. Mermaids will rise from the waves, out there beyond the crumbling towers, and he'll hear their lovely singing and swim out to them and be eaten by sharks. Creatures with the heads and breasts of women and the talons of eagles will swoop down on him, and he'll open his arms to them, and that will be the end. Brainfrizz.Or worse, some girl he knows, or knew, will come walking towards him through the trees, and she'll be happy to see him but she'll be made of air. He'd welcome even that, for the company.He scans the horizon, using his one sunglassed eye: nothing. The sea is hot metal, the sky a bleached blue, except for the hole burnt in it by the sun. Everything is so empty. Water, sand, sky, trees, fragments of past time. Nobody to hear him."Crake!" he yells. "Asshole! Shit-for-brains!"He listens. The salt water is running down his face again. He never knows when that will happen and he can never stop it. His breath is coming in gasps, as if a giant hand is clenching around his chest - clench, release, clench. Senseless panic."You did this!" he screams at the ocean.No answer, which isn't surprising. Only the waves, wish-wash, wish-wash. He wipes his fist across his face, across the grime and tears and snot and the derelict's whiskers and sticky mango juice. "Snowman, Snowman," he says. "Get a life."

Bookclub Guide

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 the dangers?12. In what ways does the dystopia of Oryx and Crake compare to those depicted in novels such as Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 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 were chosen?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 pages?

Editorial Reviews

FINALIST FOR THE GILLER PRIZEFINALIST FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZEFINALIST FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARDA Globe and Mail Best Book “Oryx and Crake is Atwood at her playful, allegorical best.” The Globe and Mail “ If one measure of art’s power is its ability to force you to face what you would very much rather not, Oryx and Crake--the evocative tale of a nightmarish near-future--is an extraordinary work of art, one that reaffirms Atwood’s place at the apex of Canadian literature.” Maclean’s“Atwood has long since established herself as one of the best writers in English today, but Oryx and Crake may well be her best work yet.... Brilliant, provocative, sumptuous and downright terrifying.” The Baltimore Sun“Atwood’s great talent for narrative has never been displayed to better effect.” Toronto Star “Oryx and Crake is Atwood at her best--dark, dry, scabrously witty, yet moving and studded with flashes of pure poetry. Her gloriously inventive brave new world is all the more chilling because of the mirror it holds up to our own. Citizens, be warned.” The Independent “Wonderfully vivid, and the sardonic unveiling of future history makes for a strong narrative drive.” National Post “Perfectly constructed, funny, and satiric. It is inventive yet prophetic, in fact, apocalyptic and weirdly feasible.… It is brilliant.” Winnipeg Free Press “Contemporary novelists rarely write about science or technology. Margaret Atwood tackles both--and more.” The Economist