Margaret Atwood is the first writer to submit a manuscript to the Future Library. The concept, dreamed up by Scottish artist Kate Paterson, is to make available an anthology of 100 pieces of work, one submitted each year up until 2114. They have planted a forest of 1,000 trees in Norway, and in 100 years that will make up the paper on which the anthologies will be published. Until then, the books are being kept in Oslo and wood from the forest will be used to commemorate each author who has submitted a manuscript to the project.
It is a project of hope. It is a project that says, yes, we will still be around by then, as much as watching the news may convince us that the end is nigh. There will be curious readers waiting with bated breath to get their hands on the mysterious stories that have been vaulted away for many years.
Margaret Atwood is of course a brilliant person to submit to Future Library due to the themes in the back catalogue of her work. Atwood kicks ass at dystopian futures. The Handmaid’s Tale, anyone? If you haven’t read it, I urge you to go grab yourself a copy immediately! Atwood is a pioneer of speculative fiction. It is speculative, rather than sci-fi, because she meditates on what could be coming. She focuses much more on using her imagination logically to figure out where we could be in the next 100 years. She analyzes the decisions being made by various societies that could lead us into a disastrous future. Not only are these books intelligent and well observed, they are also beautiful, as Atwood has a poet’s way with words. There’s nothing trashy and cheesy about her books, rather, they are incredibly scary.
So, in a time when we’re all wondering if we’ll make it to the opening of the Future Library, here’s some recommended reading on the future of Earth.
Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick
The basis for the also fantastic film Bladerunner.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Dystopian future with a nice dollop of sex and drugs woven into the storyline.
1984, George Orwell
Obviously. Also, Penguin has made some very beautiful copies of this book recently, along with Clockwork Orange!
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Because the world is going to hell so can’t we have a little laugh about it?
The MaddAddam Trilogy, Margaret Atwood
Scarily factual, this one earns its stripes as speculative writing rather than science fiction.
Read these and try not to have a nervous breakdown about the future of this good ol’ planet of ours. Side effects may include overzealous recycling, which is no bad thing.
Title image source: inspireportal.com