The speculation ends

Written by Ivinder Gill | Updated: Oct 20 2013, 09:05am hrs
Margaret Atwoods rendezvous with dystopia began in 1985 with The Handmaids Tale. Lauded as brilliant and groundbreaking, the book, talking of patriarchal dystopia, is considered one of Atwoods most spectacular works. Then came Oryx and Crake in 2003, where Atwoods writing grew more detailed (read technical) and she wrote of apocalypse as a consequence of Homo sapiens run riot.

MaddAdam is the third book of the trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake, in which Atwood created a world that was also a brilliant consequence of her imagination run riot. Manufactured creatures, bioengineered animals, lab-grown meat, the inhuman and emotionally zero Big Brother, in this case, CorpsSecorps, and the segregation of society into technocrats and the plebians chillingly predicted the future of the human species.

On her extremely colourful canvas, every single stroke of imagination, every character, every predictionand there were lots of themmade sense and seemed plausible. Written with a dry sense of humour and unabashed sarcasm, dystopia had never been so delightfully entertaining.

If the first book was the story of what happened to the technically able and the elite, the second book, The Year of the Flood, told the story of the world outside the protective bubble, the Pleeblandsa term used for the land of the plebians. However, just as chaos ruled the Pleeblands as the result of an unknown and deadly plague, similar chaos materialised on the pages of The Year of The Flood, leaving the reader clueless about the plot.

The last of the trilogy, MaddAddam, begins where both Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood leave off. All groups of survivors of the past two books convergeJimmy the Snowman from Oryx and Crake, the plebian group led by Toby, and bioengineered quasi-humans, the Crakers. Blue in colour and with a tendency to sing awful songs, the Crakers provide both humour and food for thought with their limited brains and massive sexual drives. However, instead of moving forward, the main plot is a flash of the past, dwelling at length on the story of Zeb, Tobys boyfriend.

If there is something that does not go well with speculative fiction, it is a meandering story. One expects such a work to be racy, taut, adventurous and exciting. Stories about dystopia need an extra edgethat of horror and chilling plausibility. It is here that the last two books of the trilogy are in ambiguous territory. Speculative fiction is a term used by Atwood herself, who has ferociously defended her dystopian works to be speculativestories that are possible even today, unlike the imaginary scape of science-fiction.

For die-hard Atwood fans, the USP of her books has been the sheer brilliance of her ideas and poetrylike deliverance, with not a sentence out of placefactors that made every book a treasured treat, be it The Edible Woman, Alias Grace or the Booker-winning and unputdownable The Blind Assassins. We hope for more such stuff in her coming books.