Margaret Atwood's New Dystopia: A Pandemic Apocalypse (Much) Worse Than Covid

How the writer likes it Margaret Atwood (Ottawa, 1939) imagining dystopian worlds and terrifying futures. Proof of this are two of his greatest successes, The Handmaid’s Tale and the MaddAddam trilogy, whose first installment Oryx y Crake (Salamadra), has reached Spanish bookstores this week.

After reading the first part of this book trio, which will be completed with The year of the flood Y maddaddamIt is inevitable to have the feeling that the Canadian author has been possessing a crystal ball for years, a treasure to which she goes in search of ideas (increasingly crazy) with which to create her works. In 2003 and in English, Atwood published Oryx y Crake, a visionary novel in which a pandemic wiped out 99% of the population world. A world in which only a few humans have survived and which is inhabited by genetically modified beings.

Although 18 years have passed, some of the author’s most terrifying predictions have come true. Dare to play and manipulate nature sometimes it has its consequences and the lust for power comes to destroy communities.

In his book, Atwood talks about a society that does not read, perhaps the greatest fear that a writer can have about the future, and who also ignores all of the above, all that for us today is life. Zero computers, zero lamps, zero iPhones and zero gyms. Only remains that are found by the sea or among the rubble of what was once a metropolis.

Oryx y Crake it is the first installment of a new dystopian trilogy about the end of the world, which is followed The year of the flood, which will go on sale on July 8, and MaddAddam, the unpublished novel by Margaret Atwood that will be released on October 14 this year by the hand of Salamandra.

Cover of the book ‘Oryx and Crake’, by the great Margaret Atwood

Salamander Narrative

Pitonisa “Atwood”

Far from find similarities between our animals and the strange beings he has invented for the occasion, such as pigs, created with human cells, or mofaches, designed to become your new favorite pet; Atwood reflects through this narrative on some of the problems that haunt us in our daily lives.

The prolific exploitation of the environment and man-made destruction of Mother Earth, as well as the danger of experimenting with science, human life, and ethical questions that go hand in hand with this are explored in this book.

Although there is also a part of that present “assumption” similar to ours that is extremely sour, it almost stings. On that normality that is later destroyed, The internet becomes a nest of child pornography, executions and murders in real time, a multitude of atrocities or the invasion of private life via streaming. All this in a network accessible to everyone worldwide and with economic interests involved, which explores the limits and possible expansion of the famous Deep Web.

The history

The Snowman was called Jimmy. But that was in a previous life, one more like the one we all know. Because now Jimmy is the only man on the planet and he works in a inquirant mundo postapocalíptico from a position of “otherness”. In this story Jimmy is the alien and he has to survive in a world modified by human malpractice, and his eagerness to create, experiment and let himself be carried away by the game of greed.

With a love story that unfolds as the story progresses, an analysis of family conflicts and parental and maternal-child relationships, and a permanent feeling of loneliness, Oryx y Crake imagine a dystopian future not too far from reality in some respects.

Snowman mourns the loss of Crake, his best friend, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx, with whom they were both in love, as he struggles to survive in absolute solitude on the face of the Earth. At the mercy of the elements, haunted by memories and with no other company than the Sons of Crake, green-eyed beings who consider him a kind of prophet. Snowman wonders how he could change everything in such a short time and embarks on a double journey towards his past and towards the high-tech bubble created by Crake, the place where it all began.

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood.

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood.

L. Mora

The author assures that it is not science fiction. Statements that inspire fear and curiosity in equal measure. “What I do is not science fiction: science fiction is all about spaceships and martians. I don’t want people to get confused; These stories occur on our planet, only in another time, in the future, “says the author.” They can be considered dystopia, although in the present there are dystopian realities like the one experienced in North Korea. With Jules Verne there was no problem: his novels were called “anticipation novels” because science fiction had not yet been invented. I feel closer to that term, “he adds.

The virus

We do not stop hearing that the pandemic that is hitting the world is a “punishment” for having mistreated the planet. Others choose to blame the Asian giant and its “experiments”. Well, en the novel, the virus has been created in a laboratory by a scientist named Crake, who has decided extinguish their own species because it understands that, if it does not do so, the entire planet is doomed to its destruction.

In this way, Atwood blames the human species directly for the destruction, without metaphors or assumptions. conspiracies led by sects or Miguel Bosé. The human selfishness is causing an unstoppable global warming that ends thousands of ways of life, as well as a greedy rise of power in fields such as politics or economics.

The writer makes a critique of the contradictions of scientific and technological progress, and questions whether it causes the destruction of the world, as if it were a premonition of Covid-19 it was.

Its protagonist, Snowman, meets three women survivors of the pandemic. This, far from being a kick for joy, causes an ethical problem in the character. Should I kill them, even though they may be the last women in the world, to save the crakers?

Futuristic animals

Another of the most impressive aspects of this trilogy is the creation of animals, such as piglets, designed to house a wide range of human tissues intended for transplants or the sheep mohairs, which grow human hair to supply the beauty industry.

“Nothing is pure invention. I have misrepresented some things, but I have not invented anything: the goats that produce spider silk they already exist, and also the green rabbit that shines because it has jellyfish DNA. Some of the things I talk about were being created then [a principios del siglo XXI] and others are possible in theory, “says Atwood.

Here, too, his emphasis on climate change: “The extinction of species and climate change were discussions that my father had with his colleagues when I was a child, and that in the end they have ended up in the headlines of all the newspapers, decades later. And that still had not been open Pandora’s box of DNA “.

The worlds of Atwood

Atwood She is one of the most prestigious writers on the international scene. His works have been translated into more than forty languages, he has written poetry, essays, among them the brilliant Penelope and the twelve maids, stories and eighteen novels, among which it is worth highlighting Lastly, the heart (2016), Alias ​​Grace (2016), The Handmaid’s Tale (2017), turned into a hit television series, and its sequel Wills (2019).

Despite its long list of works, it never ceases to amaze. She has been a two-time winner of the prestigious Booker Award and worthy of Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in 2008, among many other awards.

She is a figure controversy in the world of literature: in and out of books, and her comments on feminism always cause an uproar around her, as do copies of her best sellers when you get to the bookstores.

After the publishing phenomenon of The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel Wills, Salamandra continues the recovery of the best of Margaret Atwood’s work by publishing, for the first time complete in Spanish this visionary dystopian trilogy about the end of the world. And while we may be a little scared to discover what new “possible” future comes to mind, we can’t wait to devour the next.


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