______It’s taken me nearly a year to process all of the new releases from 2114, when they opened the vault at The Future Library project in Oslo. They spent the first month or so printing the 100 books they planned to make from the trees they planted nearly 100 years ago. They told me they greatly appreciated Atwood’s forethought to include translations in Latin, Chinese, and most importantly, Emoticon. The latter translation is the one I’ve relied on most significantly for my review.
______The Dream Tree begins with the narrator falling asleep under a tree in Atwood’s present day, and awakening in a time that seems much like the present day. Like much of her work, the story presupposes a tightening of resources due to climate change. Of course, she was not wrong. Of course, no one could have predicted how the sea level rise would have changed the author’s home country.
______The romance in The Dream Tree begins in the middle of the book, but the early part of the book focuses mainly on the tree and how it fits into its own community. It is difficult to imagine writing a story from the point of view of a tree in Atwood’s time, before trees were known to have consciousness, never mind community. Here, I use the pronoun it to reflect the common understanding of trees at the time the book was drafted as objects and as sources of fuel or food.
______When the narrator begins to tell us about the humans, she does so with cautious optimism. It is not too much of a spoiler to tell you that the love between the humans does not conform to the gender suppositions of either Atwood’s time or ours. Further, the elasticity of time permeates their story in a way that I could not have anticipated, even with our current understanding of alternates and re-loops.
______I’d advise reading one of the precious paper copies if you can borrow one. Since the Trees Treaty of 2100 only allows for fallen trees to be used as paper products, I held this copy in my hands for almost an hour before I got up enough courage to open the cover. I was able to feel her love for the characters as much as I could feel their love for one another.
By Jill Bronfman
Jill Bronfman is a professor, lawyer, non-profit worker, and parent. In recent years, her work has been accepted for publication in Rougarou, Ruminate Magazine, The Write Launch, The Decadent Review, The Halcyone, 82 Review, The Passed Note, Storgy, Verbal, Kallisto Gaia, Main Street Rag, High Desert, Flying Ketchup, Carcosa, Genre: Urban Arts, Ripples in Space, Mothers Always Write, Talking Writing, Coffin Bell Journal, Flock, Wanderlust Journal, Quiet Lightening, and a variety of law and technical books and periodicals. She has performed her work in Poets in the Parks, The Basement Series, and LitQuake, and had her story about a middle-aged robot produced as a podcast. These pieces are about human pollinators.