Let’s Let ‘Em Prosper
Oryx and Crake–what a fun book. Reminds me of Neuromancer, except with bloated pig things where there should be bad-ass ninja clones. I suppose it can’t be helped; it wouldn’t be Atwood’s style to do that anyway. But to get to my point, I’ve got to point out the (perhaps blatant) warning Atwood makes regarding deception:
-Deception is part of the human behavioral repertoire. It’s got some survival utility to be able to get what one wants without having to make an equal exchange. Either through feigned action, or lies, deception pops up all over the place. We can even use it for scientific purposes! Hell, most psychology studies make use of it (see: Milgram, Asch, Baillargeon, Bloom, etc).
-The only reason deception isn’t the norm (though if you’re a Romulan or Sith that’s different), is because human groups by and large punish cheaters (see: stone mercilessly). People with a penchant for dealing in deception, their genes are…not “selected” for. Thus, mates tend to hate, deceptive suitors, at least in the long run.
-Now imagine a society where the norms regarding deception were totally flipped. I wonder what that would be like…wait! We have an example! Please refer to Oryx and Crake to see how cheaters could have entire compounds to themselves, compounds with moats and wolf/dog hybrids and diseases that would make your face melt. No, not in the “that band Anthrax will melt your face off!” kind of way, think literally. Yeah, not pretty.
-What can you do with these cheaters in the face-melty compound? We can’t punish them…directly. And it doesn’t help that these compound guys own like, Coca Cola, McDonalds, and Disney…so what can we do? That’s it! We can build our own compound, engineer some bad-ass ninja-cats (had to say it), and sell an even better Viagra, oh, and that side project, project “mega-plague?” That’s nothing, just an earmark.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this progression. If not, I guess just deceived you into pointlessly reading all this.