Offering up a characteristically dystopian vision, Margaret Atwood’s speculative novel Oryx and Crake (2003) tells the story of a character called Snowman stranded in a post-apocalyptic future, recalling in flashbacks the events that led him there, and the society based on rampant consumerism and inequality, genetic engineering and environmental devastation that preceded it. South African Milanie Bekker, co-founder of the Hong Kong Roller Derby team and co-owner of Hong Kong Island district Causeway Bay skate emporium Madame Quad, tells Richard Lord how it changed her life. I went back to university in 2015 to do my PGCE (postgraduate teacher-training qualification), after working at a game reserve in Limpopo, South Africa’s northernmost province, as a nature guide for two years. I really got to know myself there: we had to start a generator for our three hours of electricity a day, and we had to pump our water from a river, which the elephants often intercepted. I moved back to Stellenbosch, and an ex-girlfriend gave me Oryx and Crake . I loved apocalyptic fiction – I was always going on about the apocalypse – and I was back in the city and feeling the pressure of that. She said to me, “This will suit you.” It blew my mind. I hadn’t read any Margaret Atwood or even known anything about her, but I have been a diehard fan ever since I read Oryx and Crake . After that I discovered the rest of the MaddAddam trilogy (2009’s The Year of the Flood tells a parallel, sometimes intersecting story from the same fictional universe, while 2013’s MaddAddam is a continuation of both of its predecessors) and it was like my eyes had opened to the world – a dystopian, apocalyptic world, but still. If anything, The Year of the Flood resonated with me even more: you meet this apocalyptic doomsday cult who have found a way of mixing religion with science and environmental activism. I really like Atwood’s writing style. There’s a little bit of sarcastic crustiness to most of her words, in how she describes humanity and our interaction with our environment. She’s in love with the characters, but she’s also super judgmental of them, because they’re humans. There’s an undertone of caring, but it’s almost like she’s the parent of a kid who won’t do what they’re told. How Breakfast at Tiffany’s influenced a fashion designer After my PGCE, I had an opportunity to come to Hong Kong; a friend was here. I started doing roller derby, which is how I got into roller skating, I met my business partner (Madame Quad co-owner Snooky Wong), and we set up the shop so we could get a community together – a group of people who have this one thing in common that makes us happy. The trilogy is all about self-definition. These books really helped me come to terms with who I am, and that it’s OK to change. You just need to let go. Don’t reject things because you don’t think that’s who you are. We should all be open to what the world’s throwing at us.