The book details the life and psychological growth of a boy who starts out as "Jimmy", just an ordinary offspring of yuppies, and ends it as "Snowman", a lone survivor of humanity. The next species finds his pale skin amusing. The book's outline is a few lonely days in the life of "Snowman", mixed with his memories. They are all that he has left, and as he sets out to scavenge one final truth about the disaster that wiped out humanity, he nurses on them, repeats them with the lonely voices in his head, and puts them into order.
Briefly put, this book is what Galapagos could have been. Take all the current human nonsense, in its present form, from our dangerous research institutions to the blood sports on our Internet. Play "Monkey's Paw" with them. Each wish comes completely true in a way you won't like. Project our corporate domination and fascism into the future a little, splice in genes from BraveNewWorld, PlayerPiano, the movie "Brazil", and whole chromosomes from CatsCradle, release the result, and bam nobody's left.
Jimmy's early moral growth is stunted by his aloof parent's failing marriage. His father works on pharmaceuticals that keep you alive and maintained, not cured or prevented. His mother, afflicted with a sense of morality, languishes, drops out, and abandons Jimmy. He lives in a "compound"; a modern Tuileries where the poor cannot go, and he learns enough about courting and dating women - carefully selected for their disposability - to let each one play his nurturing script. Nothing layers up the precoital emotions like revealing to your date, with feigned reluctance, how your mother took your beloved pet when she abandoned you.
Jimmy's best (and most honest) friend is a male named Crake. He is a sociopathic genius, and his "cocktail party personality" instantly and automatically procures the mental salves Jimmy needs, without asking. Their platonic intimacy leads to shared indulgences such as watching public executions and child rape on the internet together, while high on (yes) genetically engineered weed. Overindulging his senses and emotions allows Jimmy to just barely feel something. Crake's scars run deeper, and his career soars much higher.
So who is Oryx? Lets just say Snowman has taught the brown people living around him, now, that she is the Earth Mother who brought life to all the animals. That sounds healthy enough to prepare them for a future. At least they have one.
I just finished reading this one and I agree with the assessment above and its very direct wiki update comment: "straight lines drawn from our present circumstances." In my opinion, good ScienceFiction uses the future to tell us about the present. I don't see anything in the book that isn't true; I only see things that aren't yet fully realized.
If, at the end of the book, you wonder whether the chicken you buy is an animal or a vegetable, and if you find yourself noticing how housing and social interaction have become increasingly stratified over the past ten years, the book will have done its job.
The story of three friends--a comedian, a mad scientist, and a prostitute--as told from the comedian's POV. The comedian is almost likeable, but the others are not, nor is anyone else in the Compounds. At the end of the book I'm hoping it will occur to him to find some decent friends for a change. I fear, though, he won't know decency when he sees it.
Oh. This book makes me glad I'm allergic to chicken and haven't eaten any since I was six. And I'm not surprised I'm allergic to almost all foods that come from factories. :-)
and VisionsOfWonder for the Crakers if they never figure out that the only thing worse than genocide is creating a race crippled in reaction to a zealot's personal problems...