Oryx and Crake

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Published on October 8, 2008

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Oryx and Crake : 1,2 Oryx and Crake By Margaret Atwood Biographical Information : 1,2 Biographical Information Born November 18, 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario Currently lives in Toronto (1992-present) Wrote Oryx and Crake in 2003 Slide 3: 1,2 "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 Fiction? : 1,2 Fact or Fiction? 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 Of 4. Asimov's First Law: Japan Sets Rules for Robots 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 Immigrants 8. Android Has Human-Like Skin and Expressions Real Doc Ock: New Robot Has Robotic Tentacles ALL OF THE ABOVE ARE FACTUAL HEADLINES Some Excerpts from Fiction….. : 1,2 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-white hide.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. Slide 6: 1,2 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." Slide 7: 1,2 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 body. Slide 8: 1,2 "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 anti-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”By Margaret Atwood : 1,2 “Dreams of Animals”By Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood, Dreams of the Animals Mostly the animals dreamof other animals eachaccording to its kind(though certain mice and small rodentshave nightmares of a huge pinkshape with five claws descending): moles dream of darkness and delicatemole smellsfrogs dream of green and goldenfrogssparkling like wet sunsamong the liliesred and blackstriped fishhave red and black stripeddreams defence, attack, meaningfulpatternsbirds dream of territoriesenclosed by singing.Sometimes the animals dream of evilin the form of soap and metalbut mostly the animals dreamof other animals. “Dreams of Animals”By Margaret Atwood : 1,2 “Dreams of Animals”By Margaret Atwood There are exceptions:the silver fox in the roadside zoodreams of digging outand of baby foxes, their necks bittenthe caged armadillonear the trainstation, which runsall day in figure eightsits piglet feet patterningno longer dreamsbut is insane when waking;the iguanain the petshop window on St. Catherine Streetcrested, royal-eyed, rulingits kingdom of water-dish and sawdustdreams of sawdust. Genetic Engineering : 1,2 Genetic Engineering Also called genetic modification and gene splicing. Involves the isolation and manipulation of DNA cells on certain organisms, usually to express a protein. Genetic Engineering Timeline : 1,2 Genetic Engineering Timeline 1952-Robert Briggs and Thomas King clone the first animal a Northern Leopard Frog 1973-First successful genetic engineering experiment-a gene from an African clawed toad is inserted into bacterial DNA. 1976-Genentech, the world’s first genetic engineering company is founded. 1982-The US FDA approves the first genetically engineered drug, a from of insulin produced by bacteria. 1986-The FDA approves the first genetically engineered vaccine produced by bacteria. Genetic Engineering Timeline : 1,2 Genetic Engineering Timeline 1987-The US Patent and Trademark Office announces that non-human animals can be patented. 1987-Researchers announced the production of genetically engineered mice that produce a human heart attack drug in their milk. 1988-The first patent issued for a mammal goes to the “Harvard Dupont Oncomouse” a genetically engineered mouse highly susceptible to breast cancer. 1988-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 : 1,2 Genetic Engineering Timeline 1990-The FDA approves the first genetically engineered food, chymosin. Chymosin is used to make more than half the cheese in the United States. 1993-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. 1994-The FDA approves the genetically engineered “Flavr Savr” tomato. 1997-Scientists in Scotland clone the sheep Dolly from the udder cell of an adult ewe whose tissues had been frozen three years earlier. 1998-40 million hectares of GM crops are planted globally, predominately soy, cotton, canola, and corn. Genetic Engineering Timeline : 1,2 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 clones. 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 diseases. 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 transplantation. 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 : 1,2 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 arthritis. Epigrams : 1,2 Epigrams 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 critic, 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."    (Webster's) Slide 18: 1,2 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 : 1,2 Virtual Reality Mychilo Stephenson Cline, author of Power, Madness, and Immortality:  The Future of Virtual Reality (2005).   *  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 : 1,2 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? : 1,2 Why is “Abominable Snowman” a fitting title for the main character of our novel? Slide 22: 1,2 The world of Oryx and Crake is said to be a negative utopia--a 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-destruction, 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. Slide 23: 1,2 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? Sources : 1,2 Sources (Slide Two) Margaret Atwood (Black and White Photograph) www.library.wisc.edu/libraries/news/releases/2001/20010821-atwood.shtml (Slide Two) www.oryxandcrake.co.uk/home.asp (Slide Two) http://rasputina.typepad.com/.../ atwood_margaret_7 (Slide One) www-micro.msb.le.ac.uk/1010/1010-8.html (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/.../ armadillo.htm (Slide Nine) www.montana.edu/wwwae/images/phoglund (Slide Eleven) www.lhup.edu/smarvel/Seminar/FALL_2003/Malawskey/timeline.html (Slide Twelve) dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/eek/.../ leopard.htm (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/cloning.report (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-ultimate.com/photos(Slide Nineteen) (Seven Blunders) www.gandhiinstitute.org

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