Beware the Gene Genie

Crake is the low-key mad scientist in Margaret Atwood's rueful tale of mad science, Oryx and Crake (Bloomsbury; 374 pages), a book about an awful future. He's the kind of guy who says things like, "Let's suppose for the sake of argument that civilization as we know it gets destroyed." He didn't intend that remark as a commentary on the book he's in, but it certainly could apply, especially if you factor in his next line: "Want some popcorn?"

This is not quite a popcorn novel, but it's not all you would hope from Atwood,...

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