Heads Up: MaddAddam

Back to the future: Margaret Atwood speculates once more

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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about?

What are we talking about? Margaret Atwood’s third instalment in the trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood. By this stage, pretty much all human life has been obliterated by genetic engineering, corrupt corporations, and the Waterless Flood pandemic. Where to go next?

Elevator pitch

Some flying pigs are more equal than others in Atwood’s latest dystopian vision.

Prime movers

The Canadian novelist, poet, and literary critic has written more than 50 books, including 1987’s A Handmaid’s Tale and 2000’s The Blind Assassin. The latter won her the Booker Prize, and she has been nominated a further four times. Meanwhile she has also been awarded the Arthur C Clarke Award for sci-fi. She is also one of the literary world’s most prolific tweeters.

The stars

The only humans left in MaddAddam are mushroom-and-bee-expert Toby and her flirtatious-but-shady lover Zeb, whose mysterious past will be revealed. They share the planet with Crakers, gentle, green-eyed creatures bio-engineered to replace humans, God’s Gardeners, a group of not-quite human but pacifist survivors, and the giant and menacing hog-like Pigoons. All of them are threatened by the Painballers: vicious, dehumanised former prisoners.

The early buzz

An early review by trade publication Publishers Weekly has raved that “it roils with spectacular and furious satire ... [Atwood’s] vision is as affirming as it is cautionary, and the conclusion of this remarkable trilogy leaves us not with a sense of despair at mankind’s failings, but with a sense of awe at humanity’s barely explored potential to evolve.”

Insider knowledge

As part of the publicity campaign to launch the book, Atwood will be joining the cruise liner RMS Queen Mary 2 on its transatlantic journey from New York to the UK between 15 and 22 August, signing advance copies for fellow passengers.

It’s great that…

The book includes a clear summary of the previous instalments.

It’s a shame that...

Some misguided readers may be put off by the book’s science-fiction bent. Although Atwood herself prefers the classification “speculative fiction”, in any case.

Hit potential The first two books in the trilogy were international bestsellers, so there is nothing to suggest this one won’t be too.

The details MaddAddam is published on 29 August by Bloomsbury.