Solarpunk

Do you know what solarpunk is? I heard the term for the first time a couple weeks ago, and it has me intrigued.

According to the sources I’ve been able to find on the Internet, “solarpunk” refers to a movement that views the future in a much more optimistic light than a lot of today’s speculative fiction. Most of the popular novels and short stories over the past while have shown varying versions of how horrifically awful the future could be, usually at humanity’s own hands – robotics, man-made virus strains, environmental degradation, and a host of other factors ultimately spell our doom. Overall, we seem to have accepted as a society that, sooner or later, we’re going to make that one mistake that collapses our entire species.

Solarpunk, however, argues that the future is going to be bright. Technology isn’t going to ruin the world; it’s going to save it. Green energy, new medicine and viable economies are going to steer humanity onto the right path. And while so many authors have spun endless tales about how the world might end, it looks like solarpunk authors are trying to spin just as many versions of the opposite.

As it turns out, I actually first learned about solarpunk at last year’s Can-Con, specifically the launch of new anthology Hieroglyph. Edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer, Hieroglyph presents stories from a variety of contemporary spec fic greats that seek to show what this great future might hold. Most importantly, the anthology’s name comes from the Hieroglyph Theory, which states that it will be science fiction that leads humanity onto this path of greatness. That’s right, fellow writers: we’re the wave to the bright and shiny future.

As far as I’m aware, Hieroglyph is unique in its solarpunk focus – which maybe says something about our collective optimism, maybe – but I’m sure there are other anthologies out there. There’s at least one currently accepting submissions, and which I think I’m going to try my hand at. Who knows, maybe I’ll inspire someone slightly younger than me to save the planet. Mostly, though, I like the fact that there’s a counterbalance out there to the grim tales that a lot of us write about humanity’s future. Every once in a while, all of that doom and gloom can get a writer down…

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