I’ve had a run on reading futuristic novels this week. I’ve been reading so much non-fiction and history as background for my new book, that I started feeling drawn to fiction in the opposite spectrum. ‘Oryx and Crake’ is a very adult book about a future world where genetic engineering has made a mess of the gene pool and the future of humanity. Atwood is such a brilliant writer that she can do anything with words and future worlds and when you’re inside the book, you can almost believe that it’s true. (Though I hope all that splicing of people and animals that she describes never, ever happens). I love her historical fiction too.
Oryx and Crake inspired me to take another look at M.T. Anderson’s young adult novel ‘Feed’. I found it too depressing the first time I read it a couple of years ago but the story stayed with me as well as the idea of everyone having a sort of ‘cyber-port’ in the side of their skulls where information can be ‘fed’ into your brain. It’s got some interesting visions between the pages, but I still don’t go for Titus, the teenage protagonist. You couldn’t call him a hero because he’s so bloody selfish. But it’s a futuristic novel that’s definitely worth reading.
The more I write, the more I feel like the past, the present, and the future are all jumbled up together. I read Victor Kelleher’s ‘Dog Boy’ last night. It’s not really futuristic nor is it historical or even fantasy. But it could be the future as easily as the past. It’s a parable about human beings and their connection to the world and to each other. Kelleher does this sort of stuff so well. The dog boy is abandoned at the foot of a mountain and rescued by a dog that raises it on the edge of society. Feral kids have always had a grip on tmy imagination. I did a lot of research on feral kids in history for my non-fiction book, ‘Tough Stuff’, so I’m usually pretty critical of how they are portrayed but Kelleher’s dog-boy was absolutely convincing.
I hope the future isn’t as bleak as some of these futuristic reads portray. I wonder if there are any futuristic novels where the world is a better place, rather than a total mess. Just as well tomorrow never comes….