I heard Margaret Atwood talking about the Children of Crake on the radio. The Children of Crake are artificially designed people from this series. The...moreI heard Margaret Atwood talking about the Children of Crake on the radio. The Children of Crake are artificially designed people from this series. They were created by a scientist who called himself Crake. I'm interested in utopian fiction so I finally picked up the book.
Unfortunately for me there is very little about the Children of Crake in this book.
This story is narrated by the Snowman, a young man who is struggling to survive in a post apocalyptic jungle full of genetically engineered creatures. Through flashbacks he tells us about his childhood as Jimmy, how he came to meet Crake and Oryx, and eventually what led up to the apocalypse that resulted in his current situation.
So this is mostly a dystopian novel about a world of elite corporate compounds and genetic engineering. It reminds me of the cyber punk novels "Snowcrash" or "Mona Lisa Overdrive", only with less computer programing and more genetic engineering.
It was very engaging at first. I dove right in. But toward the middle it began to slow down and now in the final pages everything is rushing to a conclusion.
I really wanted to know what the premise was for the Crakers. If it was Margaret Atwood's premise or Crake's premise. (You should never mistake the opinion of a character for the opinion of the author.) I finally got to the part where Crake describes the theories behind his ideal people and I think he made some basic mistakes. But I still don't know if these are Margaret Atwood's mistakes until I see how the Crakers play out in the future. Which we will not see until the third book.
p293 "War, which is to say misplaced sexual energy, which we consider to be a larger factor than the economic, racial, and religious causes often cited."
This is basically saying that war is caused by misplaced sexual energy, so the solution, in the Crakers, is a set mating period with no pair bonding and no leftover sexual energy. I believe that this theory is wrong and will fail spectacularly. War and indeed most violence is over access to resources, economics. Mates and children are sometimes the resources being fought over, and race and religion are sometimes how people know which side they are on, but the cause is economics.
The Crakers don't have racism because they "simply did not register skin color" p305 Well, they can see skin color. Their skin turns blue when they go into heat so they can see that. Being able to see something and thinking it is important are two different things. There is no gene for "registering skin color" if you can see color you can see skin color. Discrimination on the basis of appearance is not a higher brain function it is a lower brain function. Lightening bugs do it. If an animal can chose between a healthy mate and sick mate it can chose between a dark colored mate and a light colored mate.
I'm not sure about hierarchy issue. Once again I don't think you can remove "hierarchy" from the brain without removing the ability to make any distinction at all. Hierarchy is just about deciding "this is better than that". You can't live very long without that kind of distinction.
He says "They would have no need to invent any harmful symbolisms, such as kingdoms, icons, gods, or money." because they have no need for property, because they are herbivores. Two problems here. First herbivores such as horses, goats, and sheep do develop territories and fight over limited resources. And despite having limited mating cycles they do compete for mates. So, there is no reason to think the fact that they don't build houses or wear clothes will keep them from killing each other over grazing rights or access to mates. And second, I firmly believe that symbolism is part of our speech function. If they can speak they manipulate symbols. If they can manipulate symbols they will have icons.
In the little we have seen of the Crakers they seem to have developed religion in spite of Crake's best efforts. Snowman blames himself for this because he told them stories to manipulate them. But I think it was inevitable. Snowman's ideas about religion are rather simplistic and based on atheist cant about what religion is. (less)