Aug 21, 2010

Oryx and Crake

It only took one poem and one short story to make Margaret Atwood one of my favorite authors. The first novel I read of hers was also a complete hit. But the rest of the novels I have read and have attempted to read I have not enjoyed to the same extent.

The way that Atwood floats words across the page mesmerizes me. The opening of Oryx and Crake overwhelmed me. There were many elements I enjoyed about it. The idea of a creation myth, the word choice, the oscillating narratives between the young and old perspectives of the same character.

I had such a hard time getting into the world presented in Oryx and Crake. Again I am faced with a destroyed world and the people within it struggling for survival. Why am I so obstinent that I resent stories like this when they are a huge portion of science fiction and dystopian fiction? But I can’t make myself like it and I can’t make myself over look it.

“We want wisdom. We want hope. We want to be good. Therefore we sometimes tell ourselves warning stories that deal with the darker side of some of our other wants.”

Oryx and Crake has some very disturbing elements which were beyond haunting to read. It also deals with some very fascinating takes on biology and genetics. Do we believed in the need to fix humans so that they have the inability to be flawed?

“Every novel begins with a what if, and then sets forth its axioms. The what if of Oryx and Crake is simply, What if we continue down the road we're already on? How slippery is the slope? What are our saving graces? Who's got the will to stop us?” – Margaret Atwood

The world Atwood has created is so bleak and so depressing. It is almost beyond hope. The main character is floating on a illusion of hope and using it to drive himself forward. He is even aware, to some extent, that he is deluding himself, but he doesn't care. Some action is better than no action.

In the attempt to create a perfect and peaceful group of humans is it necessary to push us more to act like animals? Are our egos too present in our understanding of the world to put ourselves aside? The world has died and only a few survivors are left. Among them a tribe of super humans who have been genetically engineered to work peacefully in the group setting, yet many of their practices resemble more of an animal behavior.

Aug 16, 2010

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

Although an award winner, Exodus has too many elements and too many slow parts for me to really enjoy it. Julie Bertagna weaves together a lot of elements to create this story with an almost Alice like feel.

Mara’s island is about to disappear underwater.

“In 1999, a snippet of news that should have stopped the world in its tracks caught my eye. Two South Pacific islands had disappeared under the sea.”

While still on her island Mara is able to access the remnants of this internet with a special device. One day she “falls through” the web and it occurs to her that her village much go search for another place to live.

As her journey continues Mara moves from one odd group of people to another, much like a journey through Wonderland. It takes too long for Mara to be able to move into action. She wanders between groups of people aimlessly until she is drawn up into the great city where she finally has the ability to do something. But all of her time outside the city still seems like a pointless waste of time.

‘The stories that spark my imagination are about individuals on the edge, on the cusp of change,’ says Julie. ‘But I always begin with a strong sense of a particular landscape or place. My characters and their stories are rooted in, and grow out of, that.’

This book combines a little of what I like, technology, with a lot of what I don't like, survival. Mara has to deal with a lot of loss. Although the story deals with a lot of interesting issues the multiple story layers becomes fragmented and disjointed.

Environmental impact as means of dystopia may be very realistic, but I have found it to be an over simplistic way to create a dystopia. The panic of an apocalypse creates disorder. It doesn’t have to be explained or explored. It is an easy foundation  on which to build a story.

This book is the first in a series. Normally I would not be eager to read the next book, but since I already bought it, I will probably read it sooner than I would otherwise.

Did you like this book? Tell me about it!

Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Speculative Fiction | Food & Community