Margaret Atwood And The Time Capsule Forest

Margaret Atwood And The Time Capsule Forest

Time capsules, Margaret Atwood, secret manuscripts and ambitious art projects. This story has it all, people.

Margaret Atwood announced the publication date for her newest manuscript as being 2114. Yes, that's 2114, as in 100 years from now. Atwood's completed manuscript is part of the Future Library Project, an art project conceived by Katie Paterson.

Here's how it works:

Step 1: A forest is planted in Norway.

Step 2: Margaret Atwood writes a manuscript. These steps seem pretty disconnected, but wait for it.

Step 3: Atwood's manuscript is stored in The Deichmanske public library under lock and key. It will remain unread and unavailable for 100 years.

Step 4: At the 100-year mark, aka in The Future, parts of the forest will be cut down (told you it would come back around!), the wood will be used to make paper, and Atwood's book will be printed on that paper.

Over the next 100 years, one author per year will be selected to write a manuscript that will undergo the same process.

It's such an elegant and thoughtful idea. The manuscripts will await their date with a printing press in a specially-designed room lined with wood from the forest, and on that wood will be printed the author names and the titles of their manuscripts. They've also commissioned a printing press, which will be on hand just in case it's difficult to find a way to print on paper in 100 years.

The written word, the natural world, and the fun of a good time capsule. This project's got it all.

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Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine September 5, 2014 - 10:31am

Super cool. Just sucks I'll be long dead before any of these come out.

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb September 5, 2014 - 10:58am

They need 100 years' worth of librarians who can resist the 'steal it scan it leak it' urge. Let's hope they've got that then!

Colleen Cowman's picture
Colleen Cowman September 5, 2014 - 6:02pm

Will we even get to know the titles in the Library of the Future?

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 7, 2014 - 11:47pm

Yes, according to the site, the plan is to put the authors and titles up on some wooden planks that will flank the storage room. So we'll at least go to the grave knowing that much.

On a side note, if you ever wanted to waste an afternoon in a joyful way, I recommend Googling and reading up on Time Capsules. There's some really fascinating stuff out there.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list September 8, 2014 - 9:38am

This is a cool idea, but I'm also sad. I love Margaret Atwood. The idea of never getting to read this book is torture.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman September 21, 2014 - 10:26am

It is kind of strange to think how we'll set up all this structure for a book that no one currently of reading age is likely to read. It's the coolest idea, although part of me wouldn't be upset if someone took over the library in 50 years, after most involved in the project's origin are gone, and said, Screw this, then went ahead and opened up the books.