The Maddaddam Trilogy: Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian fiction

dystopian fiction

Dystopian fiction can be unsettling to read. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy is doubly so.

You might expect any trilogy to start at Point A (in the first book), traverse Point B (in the second), and come to a climax at Point C (in the final book). Not so the MaddAddam Trilogy.


MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret Atwood

@@@@ (4 out of 5)


In Oryx and Crake, Book #1, we enter the future world of Atwood’s cruel vision, the late twenty-first century¬†shortly after the Waterless Flood, which virtually exterminated the human species. The most pessimistic projections of climate change have wrought havoc on Planet Earth, and it’s not a pretty picture. Book #2, The Year of the Flood, takes us back to the years preceding the Flood, when the conditions described in Oryx and Crake came about. We learn the nature of the Flood, and how it came to be. Finally, in Book #3, MaddAddam, we encounter once again the principal characters of¬†the first two books¬†and follow them as the future grimly unfolds. Most of the action is compressed into a few months following the calamity of the Flood.¬†

All three books display Atwood’s seemingly boundless creativity. Even throwaway lines often bristle with inventiveness. Her descriptions of the world after the Flood are highly detailed.

Atwood has carefully followed the dictates of classical¬†science fiction even though she denies that her work is science fiction. (She prefers the term speculative fiction, as do many other SF writers.) As she writes in her Acknowledgments, “Although MaddAddam is a work of fiction, it does not include any technologies or biobeings that do not already exist, are not under construction, or are not possible in theory.” This assertion is¬†sobering in view of the techno-horrors Atwood depicts in this unsettling series. So, too, is what seems to be her dark view of humanity: “hatred and viciousness are addictive. You can get high on them. Once you’ve had a little, you start shaking if you don’t get more.”

Though best known as a novelist, Margaret Atwood is also a poet, essayist, and literary critic. Her work includes dozens of novels and collections of poetry and ten nonfiction books as well as numerous other writing. She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times and won it once. She is also an environmental activist and an inventor with several patents to her name.

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