Some things that stand out to me:
• We're far enough in the future that kids know enough anatomy to keep up with my Mom at her most pedantic; later, you'll see some gene-splicing in a high school class. Technology elsewhere doesn't seem to have advanced at all though; CD-ROMs aren't a legacy technology, video conferencing seems a non-entity in this story, and the security guards haven't been replaced by robots. The guards can't be keeping their jobs because of lobbying since...
• ...the professional classes, who pine for the good-'ol-days on p.63, lament their low political power. Yes, yuppies with little influence either as members of a lobby or as shareholders. Some of them do join the rebels though, which doesn't seem much safer than civil disobedience. Add to this something I didn't pick up on right away: the surveillance. Kids are taught to make bugs in class, Jimmy's mom accused the help of spying, and we find out later that there's a camera in the bathroom. When I read the question in the Reader's Guide
how Oryx and Crake
was like 1984
it instantly added up for me: Margaret's doing an end run to our literary limbic system. Here's a question for you, Margaret: If disloyalty is so well known, what with Jimmy's hand-puppet shows in the bugged school and all, why isn't Big Brother doing anything about it?
But what do I know? I'm just in denial of the MAN!
: Crake, Brainfrizz
wanted Crake described in more detail, now describe I shall. First, his birth name's Glenn but "Crake" describes his real personality, kinda like the difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman. Crake showed up a few months before Psycho Mom ran off, and she wished Jimmy were more mature like him. Of course, Jimmy knows better
We get a bit of exposition about how kids move in and out of compounds and how friendship was subject to chance
and isn't it so awful?
For all that she tells rather than shows, Margaret doesn't come right out and say how she really feels. Passive-aggressive behavior is just as annoying in literature as it is in person. Anyway, it seems the future still doesn't have picture phones
Jimmy briefly lusts after another teacher the boys call Melons, and we finally get a description of Crake. "Straight brown-black hair, tanned skin, green eyes, a half-smile, a cool gaze." He's tall and slender, and wears dark clothes without logos or catch-phrases. Crake's also just too cool; the kids enjoy his attention, the teachers enjoy his attention, he's the smartest kid in class, and is always in control of himself and the situation. He's so
obviously the Antichrist. I like him already.
Jimmy gives Crake the school tour, mentions the bathroom's camera in the vent to keep kids from toking up. Crake only says he's unimpressed with the chemlab. Jimmy wishes Crake weren't so damn cool, but offers to hang out with him which Crake accepts. We given some spiel about how there's nothing to do in the Compounds but everyone's so free
in the pleblands. Ah, yes, the cyberpunk cities that're too dangerous to live in but so wonderful to live in 'cause there's freedom
, showing that the word "freedom" was throughly abused long before POTUS v.43.2.
So now Jimmy's lusting after a jockette he's scared of, hoping to foist her on Crake, when he spots his teacher, Melons, seemingly being fondled by a guy she's with. Jimmy asks Crake if Melons's guy friend has his hand on her butt, Crake gives the brains PLUS thesaurus MINUS social skills-kind of answer that just screams anti-intellectualism. This sort of thing was discussed in the Left Behind Archives
regarding Carpathia, the literal Antichrist. Carpathia charmed a roomful of UN delegates by reciting a list of member countries. The general impression was that of Jenkins and LaHaye assuming anyone with more education than an AA to be some sort of trivia-obsessed pedant. this also relates to point #4 in Limyaael's genius rant
. Jimmy thinks Crake's answer is good deadpan humor so isn't too bothered by it.
We're told a bit about how everyone's in slight fearful of Crake, how Crake's genius at Nanotech Biochem -- a high school class, and how Crake hates to lose (ooooooo, foreshadowing!
). The we get into the details of the games that kids play.
While playing chess, Jimmy asks why they don't play with a real
set. Crake -- and anybody with any sense, really -- says the real set is in your head, to which Jimmy says is "bogus." Jimmy likes perusing old DVDs (HINT!, HINT!)
We next read about Barbarian Stomp, which is a RTS wargame pitting historical civilizations against peoples who'd be grouped as barbarian invaders. You could customize the game all you wanted provided you used historical groups. Jimmy learns about the Petchenegs from a CD-ROM of the 1957 edition Encyclopedia Britannica, driving home how Jimmy's a free thinker
who appreciates history
and doesn't blindly accept what the Man tells him
. Crake says JImmy made that up, so we don't forget that Crake's an eeevil
modernist. Really, Jimmy and Crake were looking for obscure parings and Petchenegs vs. Byzantium was what Jimmy came up with. Crake got Byzantium by coin flip, and got slaughtered by the Petchenegs. Crake doesn't want to play Barbarian Stomp anymore, because he's evil like that.
Next we look at Blood and Roses, which looks like a fascinating game. In short, it's a game of Good vs. Evil pitting historical atrocities vs. achievements, which could be used to attack the other side or cancel each other out. Values are given for the good and bad things of history, I bet this is supposed to make us shudder
Snowman reminisces about the game a bit, hears voices again, and we're back to Jimmy
Jimmy tells Crake he doesn't understand why anyone would want to play the evil side, and he's having nightmares about the game that he's not telling Crake, so they go to a new game, "which was fine with Crake because he was into something new[.]" *thunk*
That's the Barbed Sledgehammer of Subtle Hinting hitting the reader in the head. Anyway, Jimmy and Crake are now playing Extinctathon, which is really 20 Questions but extinct animals over the last 50 years. Crake chooses screennames for both him and Jimmy, *thunk*
, and continues to go by Crake instead of Glenn. Mind you, the reader never really knows him as Glenn anyway.
When not playing wargames, they peruse the dark side of the Web. Atwood gets into real rare form here. There's live open-heart surgery, Noodie News, animal snuff sites, some news site that's really an excuse to flash-bang in a HINT! about how oh-so-1984 the world is becoming, live beheadings in Asia, live behandings in the Middle East, gaudy and commercialized American executions, and assisted suicides as tear-jerkers. Crake thinks most everything is either scripted or digitally altered, tells Jimmy "you never know [...] What is reality?
" Crake finds the assisted suicides "hilarious" while Jimmy sees parallels between suicide, his Mom leaving, and some parrot character from an edutainment game he played as a kid. It's supposed to be deep and symbolic of Jimmy's abandonment issues.
while watching a chesty camwhore read Shakespeare, we learn that Crake doesn't like the Bard. Not liking the classics is right there with child rape, which we'll get into next subchapter, as a look-how-EVIL-the-villian-is!!1! cliche. I'm neutral about Shakespeare, except for Henry III which was pure Tudor toadying.
We snap back to Snowman, musing over the carnality of it all, and we flash back to Jimmy again.
Jimmy and Crake are toking up on cut skunkweed stolen from Crake's Uncle Pete and watching cyberporn on
Uncle Pete's credit card, with Crake's l33t haxxor skills covering for the two. Crake decides what to watch on his computer and when to stop, cause he's evil like that. All of the pot porn and snuff make Jimmy woozy but don't seem to affect Crake's Antichrist cool.
And we're done for today. Stay tuned for the next subchapter, HottTotts!
(It's a good thing writing all this is getting easier.)