MARGARET ATWOOD: ORYX AND CRAKE (2003)

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) is one of the most compelling dystopian visions in American literature, one that has been made all the more relevant by political developments in the 2010s and early 2020s. The key issue in this novel is the religion-driven oppression of women, but climate and the environment are also issues. The theocratic dystopian regime of Gilead in that novel seems to have been made possible partly by the collapse of the United States, a collapse that might have been mostly political, but that was also facilitated by environmental decay that weakened the country (and lowered the birthrate to crisis levels). Thus, Professor Pieixoto, the (male) historian who compiles (and edits) the handmaid Offred’s journals to produce the main body of the novel, notes that Gilead arose in the

“age of the R-strain syphilis and also of the infamous AIDS epidemic, which, once they spread to the population at large, eliminated many young sexually active people from the reproductive pool? Stillbirths, miscarriages, and genetic deformities were widespread and on the increase, and this trend has been linked to the various nuclear-plant accidents, shutdowns, and incidents of sabotage that characterized the period, as well as to leakages from chemical- and biological-warfare stockpiles and toxic-waste disposal sites, of which there were many thousands, both legal and illegal—in some instances these materials were simply dumped into the sewage system—and to the uncontrolled use of chemical insecticides, herbicides, and other sprays” (304–5).

Otherwise, we learn very little about the environmental crisis in this novel, other than that some regions of the U.S. (known as the “colonies”) are virtually uninhabitable, in the process of being cleaned up by crews that are assigned there largely for punitive reasons (a punishment that is particularly meted out to women who have failed to obey the strict, hyper-patriarchal rules of the Christian dictatorship of Gilead).

Almost twenty years later, in Oryx and Crake (2003), Atwood would pay much more detailed attention to issues of climate and the environment, though this novel deals with so many issues that its concern with climate is again somewhat obscured. Actually, Oryx and Crake is two novels in one, a work of two different genres occurring in two different time frames. The narrative of the earlier time frame describes a dystopian society in which America is crumbling beneath the weight of climate change, growing levels of pollution and disease, and a general collapse of the educational system and other government services. At the same time, American society is informed by increasing privatization and the growing dominance of major corporations. Class differences have been exacerbated by the retreat of major corporations and their most valued employees into secure walled “compounds,” while ordinary citizens live and work in the increasingly lawless “pleeblands,” thus resembling the “Proles” of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Meanwhile, Atwood’s novel makes it clear that environmental decay and climate change are absolutely central to the decline of American civil society. In short, the entire situation looks very familiar from the perspective of the 2020s.

The second narrative, in the present time of the book, is a postapocalyptic narrative that takes place after the human race has essentially been exterminated. What complicates this novel, though, is that the near-extinction of humanity does not occur as a direct result of climate change. Instead, it occurs because a mad scientist (the “Crake” of the title) has intentionally infected the world with an engineered killer virus that wipes out almost everyone. However, the reason Crake wipes out humanity (the novel asks us to wonder whether he is really mad or simply coldly rational) is that he has become convinced that humanity is a threat to all life on the planet. In the meantime, he has also engineered a replacement race of posthumans, or “New Humans” (referred to by the novel’s actual protagonist, “Snowman,” as “Crakers”), who lack the destructive tendencies that Crake believes are inherent to humans.

In a comment that has led many observers to accuse her of a sort of genre snobbery, Atwood’s has suggested that she would prefer that both The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake be regarded as “speculative fiction,” rather than science fiction. However, the novel is in many ways a classic case of science fiction, in that it involves a world that has been fundamentally changed by specific scientific breakthroughs. Its readers also tend to experience a classic version of the kind of cognitive estrangement that Dark Suvin (with the later agreement of many others) has seen as the central project of science fiction as a genre. Atwood goes on to suggest that Oryx and Crake might better be labeled an “adventure romance” or even a “Menippean satire,” but of course many of the greatest works of science fiction could bear either of these labels as well. Science fiction might simply be a much larger and more flexible genre than Atwood (who seems to regard it as a lowly subliterary genre) appears to think.

This attitude, in fact, becomes even more clear when one considers that Atwood’s article on the genre of her novels was largely an attempt at damage control after she had haughtily disparaged science fiction in a BBC interview as being mostly about “talking squids from outer space.” Not surprisingly, the science fiction community reacted with considerable outrage to such remarks. In a review of The Year of the Flood, science fiction legend Ursula K. Le Guin, suggests that Atwood dislikes the designation of her works as science fiction because “she doesn’t want the literary bigots to shove her into the literary ghetto.” Le Guin then rather brilliantly suggests that The Year of the Flood might be an excellent science fiction novel but that she feels obligated to review it as a realistic novel, given Atwood’s disdain for the “science fiction” designation. On those terms, Le Guin finds the novel rather lacking, delivering some delicious snark, such as her expression of skepticism about the New Humans: “Who wants to be replaced by people who turn blue when they want sex, so that the men’s enormous genitals are blue all the time? Who wants to believe that a story in which that happens isn’t science fiction?”

One of the things that potentially complicates the generic categorization of Oryx and Crake is that the novelis written in an oddly hybrid mode that combines a fair amount of scientific detail with an essential disregard for verisimilitude in the interest of satirical commentary. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the novel is its attribution of the destruction of the human race to a lone rogue scientist and not to the various social and environmental problems that are mentioned in the text. This attribution tends to give the entire novel somewhat of an anti-science tone, made all the more so because Snowman, the sane and ultimately admirable protagonist and point-of-view character, is identified in the text as a sort of humanities person in opposition to Crake, represented as having a thoroughly scientific mindset.

In this sense, the opposition between Snowman (called “Jimmy” in the flashback portions of the novel) and Crake resembles familiar oppositions in our own world, as when the humanist orientation of Jimmy contrasts with the scientific orientation of Crake in ways that recall the famous “two cultures” lecture of C.P. Snow, who lamented the inability of Western society to usefully combine the perspectives of the humanities and of the sciences. Numerous critics have, in fact, used Snow as a gloss on the opposition between these two characters[1]. But the opposition between these characters can be characterized in other ways as well, as when Mohr suggests that we might see Jimmy as the book’s “Canadian” character and Crake as the book’s “American” character (290).

Of course, as the title of the book indicates, there is a third major figure in this text in the person of “Oryx,” the only major female character. Oryx, though, remains something of a mystery, a young woman from somewhere (we never learn where) in Asia who had been sold into sexual slavery in early childhood. Oryx thus represents the experience of women around the world who have been the victims of sex trafficking, but we never get to know her well, largely because Snowman/Jimmy never gets to know her well, despite having a sexual relationship with her. We never really understand the details of her relationship with Crake, either, mostly because she is not very forthcoming about those (or any other) details of her life when she is with Jimmy. The Crake-Oryx-Jimmy triangle then comes to a shocking end near the end of the novel when Crake, having unleashed his apocalyptic virus, suddenly and unexpectedly slits Oryx’s throat, after which Jimmy shoots and kills Crake in response (an outcome that Crake might well have planned and expected).

Eventually, Jimmy becomes the only survivor among the human characters we have met in the dystopian portion of the novel, so that the postapocalyptic portion becomes a sort of last-man-on-earth narrative. We do get some glimpses of his life in the postapocalyptic world (and as a sort of protector of the New Humans), but this postapocalyptic world is not well fleshed out. Similarly, the dystopian society in the segment of the novel set in its past is described in relatively little detail. Of course, one reason that Oryx and Crake might seem a little incomplete is that itis not a self-contained work but is, in fact, the first volume of the “MaddAddam Trilogy.” That trilogy also includes the volumes The Year of the Flood (2009) and Maddaddam (2013), which fill in a number of additional details.

If nothing else, Oryx and Crake avoids the two typical pitfalls of postapocalypotic narratives, which tend either to treat the apocalypse as a positive development that opens the way for renewal or to treat the past as a lost better time whose tragic destruction is to be mourned. In this case, the society before the apocalypse is anything but Edenic, which eliminates any chance that the postapocalyptic part of the narrative might be overcome by nostalgia. At the same time, this dystopian world is quite recognizable. As Gerry Canavan puts it, the pre-apocalyptic world of the novel is “a twenty-minutes-into-the future satire of our present. Atwood envisions a world in which the historical trajectory of neoliberal capitalism has reached its logical culmination” (142).

There are, however, some seeming oddities in Atwood’s depiction of the dystopian effects of unrestrained free-market capitalism. One of the characteristics of this society that she sees as central to its dystopian death-spiral is the disbanding of the police, leading to all policing (and military) functions being taken over by a private company, CorpSeCorps, which becomes one of the central villains of the trilogy. One of their key actions, once they get power, is to confiscate all private guns, so that only they are armed. In short, two of the worst things Atwood seems to be able to imagine are defunding the police and confiscating guns, two of the favorite bugaboos of the political right, which in general strongly supports free-market capitalism. It is possible that Atwood’s politics are just complicated, and there are a number of ways in which the trilogy is dialectical, examining both sides of issues[2]. It is also the case that the issue of defunding the police had a different resonance back when this trilogy written, while the gap between Canadians (who seem to love guns as much as Americans) and Canadian gun control laws (which are much stricter than American gun control laws) gives this issue a somewhat different resonance for Canadians like Atwood. Nevertheless, it is also possible that Atwood is having some fun with right-wingers, suggesting that the free-market capitalism they so admire is probably much more likely than the socialism they so abhor to deliver the freedom-limiting policies by which they are so horrified.

Of course, the postapocalyptic world of the novel has seemingly rid itself of both capitalism and socialism, but it is hardly free of its own problems, as Jimmy struggles to survive amid the collapse of all of the kinds of systems that have sustained him throughout his life. Then again, Jimmy’s whole life has been marked by trauma, not only because of the eventual loss of his mother, but because of his observation, while still an innocent child, of the deterioration of the world around him. Just watching the news, with its reports of nonstop horr, is a source of terror. The news reports Jimmy watches announce “more plagues, more famines, more floods, more insect or microbe or small-mammal outbreaks, more droughts, more chickenshit boy-soldier wars in distant countries. Why was everything so much like itself?” (298)[3].

The commodification of all things in this dystopia produces a number of monstrosities, including even the monetization of disease. We eventually learn, for example, that some drug companies are intentionally infecting potential customers with diseases so that they can then sell them drugs to treat those diseases. Indeed, the nefarious strategy might well be the inspiration for Crake’s final move to destroy the human race, though there are many other problematic consumer products in this society as well, including a range of obviously unhealthy foods. At one point, for example, a woman conducts Jimmy and Crake on a tour of a student science project that involves growing chicken products via a method that is highly reminiscent of the “Chicken Little” factory-grown chicken meat of Pohl and Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants (1952).

“What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing. “What the hell is it?” said Jimmy. “Those are chickens,” said Crake. “Chicken parts. Just the breasts, on this one. They’ve got ones that specialize in drumsticks too, twelve to a growth unit.”

“But there aren’t any heads,” said Jimmy. He grasped the concept – he’d grown up with sus multiorganifer, after all – but this thing was going too far. At least the pigoons of his childhood hadn’t lacked heads. “That’s the head in the middle,” said the woman. “There’s a mouth opening at the top, they dump the nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don’t need those.” “This is horrible,” said Jimmy. The thing was a nightmare. It was like an animal-protein tuber” (237–38).

This “chicken” is grown as part of a student science project at Crake’s prestigious Watson-Crick Institute (named for the Nobel-winning discoverers of the structure of DNA), but it will soon evolve into the central product of the “ChickieNobs” fast-food franchise. It is, of course, made even more nightmarish because we are so familiar with such franchises and because this “chicken” is such a direct extension of the way chickens are already raised and slaughtered for meat in our own world. Chickens in the meat industry are grown simply to be slaughtered and eaten, often confined to small spaces and artificially fattened throughout their lives. Indeed, one could argue that the artificial chickens of Oryx and Crake might be preferable to the way chickens are treated in our world in that they do not appear to be actual animals and might have little or no brain function.

The New Humans, though, are designed never to commit such atrocities, because they do not eat meat at all (and are horrified by the very thought). They have, in fact, been designed to be free of all of the flaws to which Crake attributes the failure of human civilization. The Crakers are completely peaceful and non-competitive, sexually, economically, or otherwise. They are very egalitarian and have no sense of any individual being more important or valuable than any other. They have no concept of property or of paternity, so that there is also no tendency toward patriarchy in their culture. They all have speciallydesigned skin that is impervious to sun damage and that produces a natural repellant that makes the Crakers unappetizing to insects. In addition, key parts of them turn blue to signal their sexual availability. The Crakers are vegans who are able to live off of naturally occurring grass and leaves, so that they have no need for agriculture and can live very much in harmony with nature. It is certainly the case that they lack many of the most unpleasant characteristics of human beings, especially the kind of humans who are produced by modern capitalism, but it is certainly questionable whether they are truly an ideal species. Crake, after all, is himself somewhat questionable as an authority on desirable human behavior, and the Crakers do seem to Snowman a bit childlike, even simple-minded.

Given that all we know about the New Humans comes from Snowman, it is difficult not to see them the same way he does. A closer look, however, shows that we should not entirely dismiss the notion that they could well be a significant improvement on humanity. One of the key lessons from the entire “Maddaddam Trilogy” has to do with our tendency to regard anyone who is fundamentally different from us as being inferior and somehow less “civilized.” The entire history of phenomena such as colonialism, slavery, and the genocidal extermination of Native Americans is fundamentally rooted in an ability to regard nonwhite, nonWestern, and nonChristian people and cultures as inferior to white, Western, Christian people and culture. One might add gender to this equation as well, and one could argue that one failure of Crake’s imagination in Oryx and Crake is that he maintains binary genders in his design of the New Humans, even as he does take steps to prevent an emergence of patriarchy in their culture. In any case, the “Maddaddam Trilogy” challenges readers to stretch their own imaginations and to realize that the New Humans are fundamentally different from the humans produced by modern capitalism. But we must also recognize that this difference does not necessarily imply that the New Humans are either superior or inferior to us; it simply implies that they cannot and should not be judged by a simple application of our own conventional criteria.

Of course, it is also the case that the New Humans need not be read literally as proposed replacements for humans. Just as much of the best science fiction is really a satirical commentary on the present world rather than a literal vision of a future or different world, so too can the New Humans be read in a strictly satirical/allegorical sense. That is, Oryx and Crake does not necessarily suggest that we consider the possibility that today’s human race should be superceded by a genetically engineered alternative. Instead, it seems perfectly appropriate to see the New Humans as simply a strong suggestion that we “old” humans need to change our ways radically if the planet is to be saved from our greed and malfeasance.

Indeed, one suspects that one reason Atwood resists the label of “science fiction” is that she wants to present the New Humans as an alternative to modern techno-scientific society, despite being the products of science. In this sense, they can be seen as the symbolic opposites of the virus that kills off most of humanity in the novel, which functions as a sort of natural culmination to techno-scientific history. To the extent that this opposition holds in the novel, one could argue that Oryx and Crake has a vaguely technophobic cast to it and that the New Humans function, not as a scientific solution to humanity’s problems but as a suggestion that humans need to turn away from science and technology and their emphasis on giving humans the power to dominate and control nature, perhaps confusing the tool of science with the use to which capitalism has put that tool. Indeed, one wonders if Atwood’s distaste for the label “science fiction” suggests a similar technophobia.

In any case, the New Humans actually play a very small role in Oryx and Crake, serving mainly as a sort of vehicle for cognitive estrangement, as we initially must struggle to understand who and what they are. The action of the postapocalyptic portion of the novel is completely dominated by Snowman/Jimmy, who also serves as the narrator, allowing us to explore this world along with him, while his memories also provide our central access to the pre-apocalyptic portions of the novel. However, given that Jimmy’s own knowledge and perspective are limited, we never get a full picture of what is going on at any time, as we might with an omniscient third-person narrator of the kind that were so popular in nineteenth-century realist fiction.

Canavan, drawing his conclusions from both Oryx and Crake and its first sequel, The Year of the Flood, very appropriately reads the radical proposal of Crake for redirecting history within the context of the eminent social and cultural critic Fredric Jameson’s well-known discussions of the popularity of postapocalyptic fictions within the context of the loss of historical sense under late capitalism. Jameson has suggested, in a statement that seems highly relevant to Oryx and Crake, that “it seems to be easier for us today to imagine the thoroughly deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism” (Seeds xii). Later, in a widely referenced essay, Jameson elaborates on this point by suggesting that the recent popularity of postapocalyptic narratives comes from the fact that so many people sense the injustice of the capitalist system but are unable to imagine any way a viable alternative to it might arise. So, lacking the ability to envision the end of capitalism and the rise of something better via any sort of normal historical process, we become fascinated by visions of the destruction of civilization itself as the only way to end capitalism. As Jameson ultimately puts it, “Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world” (“Future City” 76).

Taking his cue from Jameson, Canavan argues that Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood actually contain a strong utopian component and element of hope. For him, these fictions of “eco-apocalypse” potentially “open up new space for imagining a post-capitalist future through a satirical, science-fictional staging of capitalism’s final, catastrophic breakdown—and the subsequent emergence of other kinds of lives, after the end of history” (139). However, Canavan also suggests that these fictions offer a hope for a better future, via the New Humans, who are free of so many of the damaging tendencies that have crippled human history. For Canavan, “There is no hope for liberal individualist consumers living in the pseudo-utopia of late capitalism; our system—and the subjectivities and ideologies it produces, to say nothing of its material excesses and cold consumer comforts—is genuinely doomed. To the extent that Crake’s murderous, Frankensteinian actions do indeed usher in a kind of utopia, then, we must understand that it is not a Utopia for us—not for us the way we now are, the way we now live” (154)[4]. In short, there is hope for a better world in these novels, but that hope requires that humans be essentially removed from the equation.

One of the possible shortcomings of Oryx and Crake is that the novel tells us essentially nothing about the efforts of oppositional groups that might be attempting to work against the things, such as corporatization and climate change, that are destroying American society. The Year of the Flood, which takes place essentially in parallel with Oryx and Crake and is thus not a conventional sequel,corrects this shortcoming by putting its central focus on “God’s Gardeners,” a kind of catch-all oppositional group within the dystopian, pre-apocalyptic society first described in Oryx and Crake. The Gardeners, as their name suggests, are a sort of green Christian cult that claims to be carrying out God’s will by emphasizing practices such as green gardening, vegetarianism, respect for animals, and opposition to wasteful consumerism. Meanwhile, the religious emphasis of their program leads them to see the world around them as approaching an apocalyptic crisis, in the mode of the Biblical flood. In fact, they refer to the coming collapse of society as the “Waterless Flood,” while their anticipation of this event causes them to adopt certain practices that make it unusually likely for them to survive a crisis. By the time of the actual apocalypse the Gardeners have essentially been destroyed as an organization, their various members scattered, when the corporate forces that increasingly control this society come to regard them as a growing threat. However, many of the Gardeners’ individual members do survive and become key figures in the two latter volumes of the trilogy, when we learn that there are, in fact, a number of human survivors of the plague that wiped out most of humanity.

In fact, The Year of the Flood is primarily narrated by two of the Gardeners, both female, thus adding a new dimension to the text. Indeed, we gradually learn that one of these narrators, Brenda (generally known as “Ren” to her acquaintances), was Jimmy’s high school girlfriend, and her heartbreak over the way he treated her gives us a new perspective on him. The other main narrator is the somewhat older and more experienced Toby, who has drawn the ire of a psychotic killer named “Blanco” and thus leaves the Gardeners before their demise for their own protection. By the time Crake’s virus strikes, Toby is managing a fancy spa run by the AnooYoo corporation, while Ren is working as a sort of exotic dancer at Scales and Tails, a combination strip club and bordello. Toby and Ren eventually join forces, along with Ren’s friend Amanda, once a marginal member of Gardeners.

The Gardeners are not presented to us as ideal figures. They are, in fact, partly parodies of hippies and other counter-cultural types in our own world. But they are certainly preferable to the neoliberal capitalists who are destroying the world with their greed and selfishness. Indeed, on her website, Atwood advertises recorded versions of the hymns used by God’s Gardeners in the novel as part of their practice of worship, suggesting that the songs are meant to be taken seriously, even if they teeter on the brink of parody. What we eventually can see by the end of the third volume of the trilogy is that neither God’s Gardeners nor anyone else (including the New Humans) is presented by Atwood as a perfect solution. What begins to form in Maddaddam is an alliance of difference groups, all of which at least have something positive to offer. Perhaps the key utopian line in the entire trilogy, however, is offered by Ren, who notes late in The Year of the Flood that the leaders of God’s Gardeners, recommending healthy, organic eating, used to say, “We are what we eat.” But Ren suggests, instead, that “I prefer to say, We are what we wish. Because if you can’t wish, why bother?” (482).

The point, according to Ren, is not that we should try to build a perfect world. The point is that we should continue to wish for a better world and to work to make it happen. Ren’s emphasis on wishing here is virtually identical to the emphasis on “hope” in the work of Ernst Bloch, probably the leading utopian theorist of the twentieth century. For Bloch, utopian thought is not about imagining ideal societies but about attempting to stretch one’s mind truly to grasp the notion that history is an ongoing process and that the future can be different from the present and the “not-yet” can be fundamentally different from the “now.” Thus, utopia is never achieved, but simply sought, in a never-ending process.

The end of The Year of the Flood merges with the end of Oryx and Crake, which had seen Jimmy come upon two of Blanco’s associates, with a badly abused Amanda as their captive—though we do not fully understand this situation until the end of the later volume, when Jimmy joins forces with Toby and Ren to free Amanda and tie up the two thugs, as a group of Crakers approaches in the distance. As Maddaddam begins, the two thugs escape—and will torment the protagonists throughout the novel, until the thugs are finally killed near the end. All in all, though, this third volume is by far the lightest in tone of the three—and is even quite funny in places, especially in its flashback descriptions of the pre-apocalyptic adventures of the less than fully committed Gardener Zeb (who eventually marries Toby late in the novel). Though both Zeb and Toby are both dead by the end of the novel, there are signs that more and more humans have survived the apocalypse, including the formation of a strange alliance among humans, Crakers, and intelligent, genetically engineered pigs that almost moves the story into the realm of fantasy. There are also numerous births that point toward the possibility of renewal, including the births of a number of human-Craker hybrids, though there also still appear to be roving bands of human marauders who might upend it all.

The future seems uncertain at the end of this volume, so much so that there might easily have been another volume in the sequence, though that does not appear to be in the works. As a whole, the sequence is unambiguous in its sense that neoliberal capitalism is taking the world down the road to destruction. It also clearly conveys the insistence that a radical change is needed in order to prevent this destruction. What the sequence leaves uncertain is whether the New Humans created by Crake are the solution to the historical problem posed by neoliberalism, both because there might still be enough humans to overwhelm them and because they are different enough from us that we can never truly understand them.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. “The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake in Context.” PMLA, vol. 119, no. 3 2004, pp. 513-17.

Atwood, Margaret. Maddaddam. Bloomsbury, 2013.

Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. 2003. Anchor-Random House, 2004.

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. O. W. Toad, 2009.

Bloch, Ernst. The Principle of Hope. 1954–1959. 3 vols. Trans. Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice, and Paul Knight. 1986. MIT Press, 1996.

Canavan, Gerry. “Hope, But Not for Us: Ecological Science Fiction and the End of the World in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.” Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, vol. 23, no. 2, 2012, pp. 138-159.

Du, Lanlu. “The Two Cultures Debate Revisited in the Posthumanist Age: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake as a Case Study.” Word and Text, vol. 10, 2020, pp. 111–125.

Dunlap, Allison. “Eco-Dystopia: Reproduction and Destruction in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.” The Journal of Eco-Criticism, vol. 5, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1–15.

Jameson, Fredric. “Future City.” New Left Review, vol. 21, May-June 2003, pp. 65–79.

Jameson, Fredric. The Seeds of Time. Columbia University Press, 1994.

Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.” The Guardian, 28 August 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/aug/29/margaret-atwood-year-of-flood. Accessed August 6, 2022.

Mohr, Dunia. “Eco-Dystopia and Biotechnology: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013).” Dystopia, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalypse: Classics-New Tendencies-Model Interpretations. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2015, pp. 283–301.

Snyder, Katherine V. “‘Time To Go’: The Post-Apocalyptic And The Post-Traumatic In Margaret Atwood’s Oryx And Crake.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 43, no. 4, Winter 2011), pp. 470-489.

Staels, Hilde. “Oryx and Crake: Atwood’s Ironic Inversion of Frankenstein.” Margaret Atwood: The Open Eye. Edited by John Moss and Tobi Kozakewich. University of Ottawa Press, 2006, pp. 433–446.

Notes

[1] See Lanlu Du for a discussion that focuses on Oryx and Crake from this perspective.

[2] For example, see Dunlap for an argument that, in addition to its obvious critique of capitalism, Oryx and Crake also criticizes “ecotopianism.”

[3] On the role of trauma in the novel, see Snyder.

[4] Staels presents a discussion of some of the ironic parallels between Oryx and Crake and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as well as suggesting that Atwood’s novelalso alludes to Shelley’s other novel, The Last Man.