As I read the article by in The Observer (reproduced in The Hindu recently) titled “The world of 2045: what to expect” I had a sense of de ja vu. The article reports from a study by UK Ministry of Defence think tank exploring potential threats to security that might emerge by the middle of the century and states that “large multinational corporations could develop their own highly capable security forces. Criminals and terrorists will have access to increasingly cheap unmanned drones and space satellites. Sophisticated environmental warfare will spread plant and human diseases by insects.” These lines could have been taken from MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood, a book I had recently enjoyed reading.
I am a fan of Margaret Atwood and think she is one of the finest living writers in English. She tends towards supernatural and futuristic scenarios, both genres that I am not partial to. But there is something in her books that are arresting. She fulfills many things I look for in books – good writing, characters etched in reality and the ability to provoke thinking on moral and ethical issues!! The plot is important of course, but its not all that matters – does it make me think, reflect, ponder? And Atwood’s books always make me do that.
MaddAddam came out last year and was widely and favorably reviewed. I was about to place the order on Amazon, when I realized that it was the third and final book in a triology. So I ordered them all and set about reading them in the correct sequence (which I recommend).
Like other books in her repertoire, it is set in the future – a compelling tale of what man’s greed and ruthlessness can lead to. I am biologist and could see that the she writes with good understanding of modern biology, genetic engineering, cloning and such like matters. And the scenario she has drawn up, are so plausible as to be scary. The only question is, will it take 3 decades or can it happen before that?
In fact, if you watch around you closely, a lot of it is already happening. Many crucial sectors, like pharmaceuticals, have become monopolies in a few hands. The food chain is already manipulated at every stage, in the name of profit and the annual growth rate. Just watch Robert Kenner’s documentary “Food Inc” to see how much, in the USA adn the rest of the word is either trying to emulate this or feeling dejected that they cannot. Global policies are driven by a few nations and global wealth is in a few hands…..
I am not given to doomsday predictions, and do see the positives – few but growing voices of concern, tha.t are calling for change. I do not know how it will all pan out, and cannot really imagine what the world will be like in 2045 (when my grand kids will be 41 and 37), but can only have faith that we will find our way through all the muddle and come out winners. But, all that apart I can strongly recommend Margaret Atwood and her Amddaddam triology to everyone who likes good fiction