In her biotech apocalypse novel Oryx and Crake, author Margaret Atwood depicts a future where genetic engineering has warped the animal kingdom into "pigoons" (pictured), "snats," glowing bunnies, and worse. Now an artist has captured her dystopia in images.
The sequel to Orxy and Crake, called The Year of the Flood, came out this month. (I'll post my review of it soon!) Like Orxy, Atwood's new novel is packed with weird hybrid animals and horrific biotech companies who will mutate any genome for a profit.
In these images, artist Jason Courtney shows us a few of Atwood's imaginary GMO animals, who are horrifying because they seem to have been created for no good reason. Who wants a half-ape, half-pig? What's the use of a half-snake, half-rat? These hybrids represent science gone decadent. And the tech culture in her novel has gone decadent too, with teenagers dabbling in child porn and playing videogames about destroying the world (which indeed one brainy techie finally does, as you can see in the post-apocalyptic painting of our main character reduced to a state of savagery, looking at the ruins of his virus-ravaged civilization).
Unlike a typical science fiction author, who would try to depict realistic possibilities for bioengineering, Atwood turns genetic engineering into a fantastical metaphor. Her pigoons and snats aren't likely ever to exist. So she may not have predicted the future, but she has created fantastical figures who neatly capture the worthlessness of innovation for innovation's sake. And Courtney's paintings bring that feeling to life.
You can see more of Jason Courtney's work in his online gallery.