The best writ­ers of the Fu­ture

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY - Jim Car­roll

The in­trigu­ing Fu­ture Li­brary project is to get its sec­ond ma­jor do­na­tion to­mor­row from nov­el­ist David Mitchell in Oslo, Nor­way. He fol­lows in the lit­er­ary foot­steps of Mar­garet At­wood who launched the project last year.

Fu­ture Li­brary is a pub­lic art­work by Katie Pater­son (right) that will take shape in Oslo over the next cen­tury. Fa­mous au­thors are asked to cre­ate a text for the li­brary, with one writer sub­mit­ting each year. These will be held in trust, un­pub­lished, un­til 2114. A thou­sand trees have been planted in the Nord­marka for­est out­side the city, and these will sup­ply the pa­per for a spe­cial an­thol­ogy of books to be printed once the li­brary is com­pleted in 100 years’ time.

The manuscripts will be held in a vault the new De­ich­manske Pub­lic Li­brary, which will open in 2019 in Bjørvika, Oslo. The plan is that no adult liv­ing to­day will know what is in­side the boxes, other than that they are texts of some kind that will, ac­cord­ing to the or­gan­is­ers, “with­stand the rav­ages of time and be tech­no­log­i­cally avail­able in the year 2114”.

At­wood’s story from last year was called Scrib­bler Moon. Mitchell, now based in Cork, will hand over his text dur­ing an early-morn­ing in­ti­mate cer­e­mony in the mid­dle of the Nord­marka for­est while wood fires burn. The cer­e­mony will be marked with cof­fee and choco­late.

Katie Pater­son’s work has a par­tic­u­larly am­bi­tious streak. Pre­vi­ous projects in­clude map­ping all the Uni­verse’s dead stars, com­pil­ing a slide archive of the his­tory of dark­ness across the ages, cus­tom-mak­ing a light bulb to sim­u­late the ex­pe­ri­ence of moon­light, bury­ing a nano­sized grain of sand deep within the Sa­hara desert, and send­ing a re-cast me­te­orite back into space.

She is par­tic­u­larly de­lighted that Mitchell is this year’s con­trib­u­tor. “David Mitchell makes the world a spir­ited place,” she said. “His work is trans­port­ing and poly­phonic, blend­ing time, dreams and re­al­ity . . . His locked-away text will al­low fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to tele­scope into other worlds.”

Of the project Mitchell said: “For me it’s a vote of con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of cul­ture. The project is a dec­la­ra­tion of be­lief that, one cen­tury from now, de­spite the threats to civil­i­sa­tion posed by cli­mate change and its de­niers, by racist dem­a­gogues and by death-cultists, our great-grand­chil­dren will still value trees, books, read­ing and nar­ra­tive.’

For more, see fu­ture­li­ Lau­rence Mackin Adele and the de­tail inthe ‘£90m’ deal This week’s news that Adele had signed a £90 mil­lion con­tract with Sony Mu­sic has fo­cused nat­u­rally enough on the singer’s sig­nif­i­cant win.

How­ever, the truth is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. It doesn’t mean that Adele can walk into her lo­cal bank with a nov­elty-sized cheque and walk out with all the money in a big bag. She’ll get a big chunk of change right away, but it won’t be £90 mil­lion . In­stead, the money will come in large dribs and drabs over the years de­pend­ing on how the con­tract is struc­tured.

Over the years, sto­ries about mil­lion-dol­lar deals rolled out again and again, usu­ally with new bands and in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple al­bums. These deals are handy short­hand from the band’s side to sig­nify that the act have hit the big time. The sto­ries rarely go into the minu­tiae of the con­tract, which show that all the op­tions are with the la­bel and they de­cide if the band will get a sec­ond or third al­bum. Such bor­ing de­tail gets away from the “mil­lion euro record deal” yarn, the mu­sic in­dus­try uni­corn that so many Ir­ish acts have en­coun­tered through the years (Jed­ward, if we re­mem­ber right, had two of those deals).

In the case of Adele, it’s an old-fash­ioned move by singer and her team. Given the fact that she’s the big­gest-sell­ing act of the past few years, she could have de­cided to set up her own op­er­a­tion and li­cense her mu­sic to Sony or who­ever, thus main­tain­ing com­plete artis­tic and lo­gis­ti­cal con­trol.

While she’s sure to have a lot of the lat­ter at her new home – could you imag­ine be­ing the ex­ec­u­tive who de­cides to boss her around? – she could have had a whole lot more if she struck out with a new busi­ness model.

Some­times, though, you just reach for the gold pen, sign on the dot­ted line and take the cash. Let’s hope it works out bet­ter than the £80 mil­lion deal Rob­bie Williams signed a few years ago.

A Nor­we­gian lit­er­ary project is putting nov­el­ists’ work in stor­age for a cen­tury

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