Saturday, December 21, 2013

Telling the story is hard

"I am writing the story," she says. "The story of you, and me, and the Pigoons, and everyone. I am writing about how we put Snowman-the-Jimmy and Adam One into the ground and Oates too, so that Oryx can change them into the form of a tree. And that is a happy thing, isn't it?"

"Yes. It is a happy thing. What is wrong with your eyes, Oh Toby? Are you crying?" says Blackbeard. He touches her eyebrow.

"I'm just a little tired," says Toby. "And my eyes are tired as well. Writing makes them tired."

"I will purr on you," says Blackbeard.

Among the Crakers, the small children do not purr. Blackbeard is growing quickly — they do grow faster, these children — but is he big enough to purr? Apparently so: already his hands are on her forehead, and the mini-motor sound of Craker purring is filling the air. She's never been purred on before: it's very soothing, she has to admit.

"There," says Blackbeard. "Telling the story is hard, and writing the story must be more hard. Oh Toby, when you are too tired to do it, next time I will write the story. I will be your helper."

"Thank you," says toby. "That is kind."

Blackbeard smiles like daybreak.

MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood, is a most satisfying conclusion to the near-future postapocalyptic scenario laid out in Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. But I think you do really need to read the first two books to fully understand the dynamics of this one.

This volume gives Zeb's backstory, and through him, the story of Adam One.

MaddAddam is funny, mostly in its depiction of the Crakers, the naïve genetically engineered humans, as they are beginning to undergo evolution, at least of a social and cultural sort as they learn from the surviving "natural" humans and develop a mythology of their own. And it seems that the future of humanity depends on their interbreeding.

The characters are wonderful — genuine and sympathetic if not always likeable. While the first two volumes set the stage of this new world, its creatures, environments, and issues all reasonably extrapolated from science that is being performed today, this volume, in my view, now that the world-building is done, is simply about a group of (somewhat misfit) survivors trying to get along and cope with a (very) tough situation. The first two might be considered cautionary; this book, remarkably, is unabashedly hopeful.

It made me smile like daybreak.

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