Blood and Roses was a trading game, along the lines of Monopoly. The Blood side played with human atrocities for the counters, atrocities on a large scale: individual rapes and murders didn't count, there had to have been a large number of people wiped out. Massacres, genocides, that sort of thing. The Roses side played with human achievements. Artworks, scientific breakthroughs, stellar works of architecture, helpful inventions. Monuments to the soul's magnificence, they were called in the game. There were sidebar buttons, so that if you didn't know what Crime and Punishment was, or the Theory of Relativity, or the Trail of Tears, or Madame Bovary, or the Hundred Years' War, or The Flight into Egypt, you could double-click and get an illustrated rundown, in two choices: R for children, PON for Profanity, Obscenity, and Nudity. That was the thing about history, said Crake: it had lots of all three.
The exchange rates — one Mona Lisa equalled Bergen-Belsen, one Armenian genocide equalled the Ninth Symphony plus three Great Pyramids — were suggested, but there was room for haggling. To do this you needed to know the numbers — the total number of corpses for the atrocities, the latest open-market price for the artworks; or, if the artworks had been stolen, the amount paid out by the insurance policy. It was a wicked game.
The sack of Troy, says a voice in his ear. The destruction of Carthage. The Vikings. The Crusades. Ghenghis Kahn. Attila the Hun. The massacre of the Cathars. The witch burnings. The destruction of the Aztec. Ditto the Maya. Ditto the Inca. The Inquisition. Vlad the Impaler. The massacre of the Huguenots. Cromwell in Ireland. The French Revolution. The Napoleonic Wars. The Irish Famine. Slavery in the American South. King Léopold in the Congo. The Russian Revolution. Stalin. Hitler. Hiroshima. Mao. Pol Pot. Idi Amin. Sri Lanka. East Timor. Saddam Hussein.
"Stop it," says Snowman.
Sorry, honey. Only trying to help.
That was the trouble with Blood and Roses: it was easier to remember the Blood stuff. The other trouble was that the Blood player usually won, but winning meant you inherited a wasteland. This was the point of the game, said Crake, when Jimmy complained. Jimmy said that if that was the point, it was pretty pointless. He didn't want to tell Crake that he was having some severe nightmares: the one where the Parthenon was decorated with cut-off heads was, for some reason, the worst.
— From Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood