Last week, I had the pleasure of reappearing on Literary Landscapes, a local radio show on 93.1 CKCU out of Carleton University, to chat with host Kate Hunt about my forthcoming publication in Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation. I’m an improviser at heart, so I went in with no specifics about what we might talk about, besides my story and the anthology and a couple other vague things. The result was that we dove very quickly into discussing exactly what “solarpunk” is, since it’s a relatively new genre that is just starting to get attention.
Solarpunk is a fascinating concept for me because it’s essentially optimistic, examining a world where technology or human activities don’t destroy everything, but often prove to be the solution to things. If you’ve ever read the anthology Hieroglyph that Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn edited, the tone of solarpunk today is very much the same. But it’s not always optimistic; there’s a story in Sunvault where humanity has already ruined multiple Earths, and is moving to another one filled with the realization that we can’t botch it again because we’ll only get so many chances. Or sometimes solarpunk can be vague, like my story “Pop and the CFT,” which posits a carbon footprint tax that’s calculated on someone’s estate but never explains whether that system is actually doing any good with regard to how people treat the environment. So describing solarpunk as inherently optimistic is maybe a little inaccurate, since it’s difficult to write an interesting story where everything is sunshine and rainbows. Maybe it’s just a genre that opens up the possibility of things working out large-scale, presuming that
climate change or rampant economic disparity or North Korea or Cheeto Jesus or whatever the hell us doesn’t bring it all crashing down.
The thing I’ve always found so fascinating about science fiction and fantasy in general is that “what if” mentality that seems to pervade all of it. Lately that “what if” tends to focus on how things can go wrong; the question is about what particular thing will make the world worse, and how we’ll all deal with it. So I like the fact that subgenres like solarpunk are trying to take a slightly different tack. And that it’s new enough that nobody really understands what it is, and can have great conversations about it.
One of my favorite things to do is talk shop or society with other creative types, and I really enjoyed my conversation on Literary Landscapes. If you’d like to hear Kate and I discuss solarpunk and other things in more detail, you can follow the link above or via the CKCU website. And if solarpunk is something that interests you, there’s a Goodreads giveaway for Sunvault – but holy shit, it ends today! So go check it out right now!