Oryx and Crake


14 déc. 2012 (il y a 8 années et 7 mois)

526 vue(s)


Oryx and Crake


Margaret Atwood


Biographical Information

Born November 18,
1939 in Ottawa,

Currently lives in
Toronto (1992

Wrote Oryx and
Crake in 2003


"Like The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction,
not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space
travel, no teleportation, no Martians. As with The Handmaid's Tale,
it invents nothing we haven't already invented or started to invent.
Every novel begins with a what if, and then sets forth its axioms.
The what if of Oryx and Crake is simply, What if we continue down
the road we're already on? How slippery is the slope? What are our
saving graces? Who's got the will to stop us?"

Margaret Atwood in an essay from Random House


Fact or

The following "headlines" are related to various
works of fiction written over the last several
decades. Decide which ones you believe are
fact and which still remain in the realm of the
fiction writers' minds...

1. Military Plans Cyborg Sharks

2. U.S. Air Force Takes a Look at Teleportation

3. First 'Telecloning' Experiment Works ... Sort

4. Asimov's First Law: Japan Sets Rules for

5. Cybugs: Military Mulls Army of Cyborg Insects

6. Common honey bees can be trained to
recognize individual people

7. Proposal to Implant Tracking Chips in

8. Android Has Human
Like Skin and

Real Doc Ock: New Robot Has Robotic



Some Excerpts from Fiction…..

In his 1981 short story Johnny Mnemonic, author William Gibson wrote
about Jones, a military surplus dolphin cyborg that has equipment that is
surprisingly similar to the DARPA sharks.

He rose out of the water, showing us the crusted plates along his sides, a
kind of visual pun, his grace nearly lost under armor, clumsy and prehistoric.
Twin deformities on either side of his skull had been engineered to house
sensor units. Silver lesions gleamed on exposed sections of his gray

The first law of robotics, as set forth in 1940 by writer Isaac Asimov, states:

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human
being to come to harm.

In his chilling novel The Green Brain, Frank Herbert writes about insects
evolving to the point where particular insects or hives of insects can indeed
recognize individual human beings.


Science fiction writers have gone a bit further in their thinking about female
robots and androids. In his chilling 1954 work The Mechanical Bride, author
Fritz Leiber wrote about a similar robotic creation:

Streamlined, smooth
working, absolutely noiseless, breath
takingly realistic.
Each one is powered by thirty
seven midget electric motors, all completely
noiseless, and is controlled by instructions, recorded on magnetic tape,
which are triggered off by the sound of your voice and no one else's. There
is a built
in microphone that hears everything you say, and an electric brain
that selects a suitable answer. The de luxe model is built to your
specifications, has fifty different facial expressions...

Implanting microchips in human beings for the purpose of monitoring is not
exactly news for science fiction fans; Alfred Bester wrote about "skull bugs"
in his 1974 novel The Computer Connection:

"...you don't know what's going on in the crazy culture outside. It's a bugged
and drugged world. Ninety percent of the bods have bugs implanted in their
skulls in hospital when they're born. They're monitored constantly."


In his classic 1898 story, War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells referred to
the "glittering tentacles" that enabled the Martian Tripods to both
walk and grasp objects:

Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere
insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing
metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which
gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange


"Science and fiction both begin with similar questions: What if?
Why? How does it all work? But they focus on different areas of life
on earth. The experiments of science should be replicable, and
those of literature should not be (why write the same book twice)?

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that Oryx and Crake is
science. Science is a way of knowing, and a tool. Like all ways
of knowing and tools, it can be turned to bad uses. And it can be
bought and sold, and it often is. But it is not in itself bad. Like
electricity, it's neutral."

Margaret Atwood


“Dreams of Animals”


Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood, Dreams of the Animals

Mostly the animals dream

of other animals each

according to its kind

(though certain mice and small rodents

have nightmares of a huge pink

shape with five claws descending)

: moles dream of darkness and delicate

mole smells

frogs dream of green and golden


sparkling like wet suns

among the lilies

red and black

striped fish

have red and black striped

dreams defence, attack, meaningful


birds dream of territories

enclosed by singing.

Sometimes the animals dream of evil

in the form of soap and metal

but mostly the animals dream

of other animals.


“Dreams of Animals”


Margaret Atwood

There are exceptions:

the silver fox in the roadside zoo

dreams of digging out

and of baby foxes, their necks bitten

the caged armadillo

near the train

station, which runs

all day in figure eights

its piglet feet patterning

no longer dreams

but is insane when waking;

the iguana

in the petshop window on St. Catherine Street

crested, royal
eyed, ruling

its kingdom of water
dish and sawdust

dreams of sawdust.


Genetic Engineering

Also called genetic modification and gene

Involves the isolation and manipulation of DNA
cells on certain organisms, usually to express a


Genetic Engineering Timeline

Robert Briggs and Thomas King
clone the first animal a Northern
Leopard Frog

First successful genetic
engineering experiment
a gene from
an African clawed toad is inserted into
bacterial DNA.

Genentech, the world’s first
genetic engineering company is

The US FDA approves the first
genetically engineered drug, a from of
insulin produced by bacteria.

The FDA approves the first
genetically engineered vaccine
produced by bacteria.


Genetic Engineering Timeline

The US Patent and Trademark
Office announces that non
animals can be patented.

Researchers announced the
production of genetically engineered
mice that produce a human heart
attack drug in their milk.

The first patent issued for a
mammal goes to the “Harvard Dupont
Oncomouse” a genetically engineered
mouse highly susceptible to breast

Researcher at U.S. Department
of Agriculture inserts human growth
hormone into a pig’s gene, resulting in
a hairy, lethargic animal.


Genetic Engineering Timeline

The FDA approves the first genetically
engineered food, chymosin. Chymosin is
used to make more than half the cheese in
the United States.

The FDA approves genetically
engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH)
a drug designed to increase milk production
in cows. The FDA does not require that the
milk from BHG injected cows to be labeled.

The FDA approves the genetically
engineered “Flavr Savr” tomato.

Scientists in Scotland clone the sheep
Dolly from the udder cell of an adult ewe
whose tissues had been frozen three years

40 million hectares of GM crops are
planted globally, predominately soy, cotton,
canola, and corn.


Genetic Engineering Timeline

1998 Scientists at the University of Hawaii
announce the birth of Cumulina and six other
generations of cloned mice

the first reproducible

2000 The Scottish scientists who cloned Dolly
announce the birth of two more cloned sleep

Cupid and Diana. Large animals such as sheep,
pigs and cows can also now be genetically
engineered to replace mice in the study of human

2000 Scientists announce the birth of the first
successfully cloned pigs with the hope that the feat
will accelerate efforts to develop genetically
modified pigs with "people
friendly" organs for

2001 A rare ox called a gaur named Noah is born to
Bessie, a domestic cow, in Sioux Falls, IA

the first
endangered species cloned by implanting cells into
a cow's egg. Noah died two days later of a bacterial
infection. Five other cows pregnant with cloned
gaurs spontaneously aborted their fetuses.


Genetic Engineering Timeline

2002 Scientists at Texas A&M
University clone a house cat they
named "cc" for carbon copy.

2003 Dolly the sheep dies at age 6 of
a common incurable lung disease.
Dolly suffered at an early age from



What is an epigram?

"A short poem with a witty or satirical point; any terse, witty, pointed statement, often with a

clever twist in thought."

( Webster's)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772
1834), an English poet and


once said:

"What is an epigram?

A dwarfish whole;

It's body brevity, and wit its soul.“

What is an epigraph?

"A quotation that is placed at the start of a work that expresses in some succinct way an aspect or
theme to follow."



First Epigram from
Oryx and Crake:

I could perhaps like others have astonished you with strange improbable tales; but I

rather chose to relate plain matter of fact in the simplest manner and style; because my

principle design was to inform you, and not to amuse you.

Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels

Second Epigram from
Oryx and Crake:

Was there no safety?

No learning by heart of the ways of the world?

No guide, no

shelter, but all was miracle and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air?

Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse


Virtual Reality

Mychilo Stephenson Cline, author of
Power, Madness, and

The Future of Virtual Reality



Virtual reality will be integrated into daily life and activities.


Techniques will be developed to influence human behavior, interpersonal
communication and cognition.


As we spend more and more time on virtual space, there will be a gradual
migration to

virtual space, resulting in important changes in economics,
worldview and culture.


Mahatma Gandhi

Seven Blunders of the World

Wealth without Work

Pleasure without Conscience

Knowledge without Character

Commerce without Morality

Science without Humanity

Worship without Sacrifice

Politics without Principles

Rights without Responsibilities


Why is “Abominable Snowman” a fitting title for the main
character of our novel?


The world of
Oryx and Crake

is said to be a negative utopia
place “humanity” does not want to be. The word “humanity”
denotes the contemplation of what makes us human. Because
Atwood’s novel presents a picture of humanity’s self
the novel presents a good context to contemplate what “humanity”
means to us; what makes us human? When we can define for
ourselves what humanity means, we may then better grasp what
fundamental things were violated in the text which would make it a
place we truly would not want to be.


The following quote appears on the
Oryx and Crake

home site:

“If progress continues unchecked

the world warms, multinationals
prosper, society schisms and science stays one small leap ahead of
morality. How will humanity adapt?”

Let us contemplate our own projections for the future of humanity and
the planet.

Do we see a world like Oryx and Crake’s?



(Slide Two) Margaret Atwood (Black and White Photograph)

(Slide Two) www.oryxandcrake.co.uk/home.asp

(Slide Two) http://rasputina.typepad.com/.../

(Slide One) www

(Slide One) www.surefish.co.uk/culture/books/0603

(Slide Three) www.randomhouse.com/features/atwood

(Slide Five, Six, Seven) www.livescience.com/scienceoffiction

(Slide Eight) www.randomhouse.com/features/atwood/interview/html.

(Slide Ten) www.patchwork.demon.nl/rainbowned.htm

(Slide Nine) wfscnet.tamu.edu/tcwc/.../

(Slide Nine) www.montana.edu/wwwae/images/phoglund

(Slide Eleven) www.lhup.edu/smarvel/Seminar/FALL_2003/Malawskey/

(Slide Twelve) dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/eek/.../

(Slide Thirteen) draves.org/blog/archives/000154.html

(Slide Fourteen) www.worc.ac.uk/departs/.../ BIO206/SCEN.html

(Slide Fourteen) www.biologie.uni
halle.de/.../ FlavrSavr.html

(Slide Fourteen) www.etudesaumaroc.com/article313.html

(Slide Fourteen) www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9807/22/

(Slide Fifteen) stm1.chem.psu.edu/~psw/Chem13H98.html

(Slide Fifteen) www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn323

(slide Sixteen)
www.cp.org/premium/ONLINE/.../ g012107A.html

(Slide Sixteen) staff.washington.edu/.../inals/websitea

(Slide Nineteen) www.d12world.com/board/showthread.php?t=150924

(Slide Nineteen) www.shanghai

(Slide Nineteen) (Seven Blunders) www.gandhiinstitute.org