AWEJ Special Issue on Literature No.1, 2013                                                                                 Pp.42-54 

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   Speculative Writing and Environmentalist Politics: Ecocritical Readings of Oryx and Crake and Der Schwarm

 Doris Hambuch
United Arab Emirates University
CHSS, Dept. of English Literature
Al Ain, U.A.E.


This paper provides a comparative ecocritical study of two contemporary novels, Oryx and Crake (2003) by Canadian Margaret Atwood and Der Schwarm (The Swarm; 2004) by German Frank Schätzing, in order to emphasize the global dimension of environmental concerns expressed by these authors on one hand, and the need for what Ursula K. Heise has termed a ‘sense of planet’ in the required scholarship on the other.  While the two texts differ in style and format, they both represent natural disasters that are results of misguided scientific developments and political decisions.  Both, Oryx and Crake and Der Schwarm, focus on the involvement of the so-called ‘natural’ or ‘hard sciences’, mostly genetic engineering in Atwood’s story and oceanography, as well as marine biology along with petro-chemistry in Schätzing’s.  They likewise provide sources of suggested comfort, and through the diversity of settings underline a global urgency as it relates to concepts such as ‘globalization’, ‘sustainability’, and ‘risk society’.

Keywords: Atwood, Ecocriticism, Oryx and Crake, Schätzing, Speculative Fiction


Doris Hambuch is Assistant Professor at United Arab Emirates University. Her publications
include articles on Caribbean literature and film. She is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of
Postcolonial Studies and to the Who is Who of Contemporary Women Writers. She is currently
co-editing a collection of essays and interviews on Caribbean cinema.