[Please note this page’s content has been updated as of 11-12-15. For the original content discussing the evolving definition of the genre please go here. Some of the comments listed below pertain to that original post. Apologies to the commenters–we were not able to move the comments with the post.]
WHAT IS SOLARPUNK? Solarpunk is an evolving movement and literary genre. Depending on where you read about it, everyone has a different opinion. The consensus seems to be focusing on a future where clean energy and eco-friendly global policies are the norm. This website is being parked here to allow people to give feedback through the polls on what they’d like to see done with the websites solarpunk.com and solarpunk.org. Also being an extension of my website (for now) I’ve shared my thoughts on how I’ve approached using solarpunk the literary genre in my novels (see below). For more information on how others are approaching the movement and the genre visit:
AbsoluteWrite.com (Dec 2010) – MormonMobster asked for feedback on “Figuring out ‘Solarpunk?’” A few people weighed in on the possible parameters of such a genre. Some of their ideas are really cool and certainly influenced my work.
ABC Environment (November 10, 2014) – published an article by Bianca Nogrady discussing solarpunk as a bright and sustainable future. It has one of my favorite images by Mark Salwowski.
Solarpunks.tumblr.com – You’ll find bio-friendly pictures and read about the ideals of positive futurism. A post by visual artist Olivia Louise (2014) gave new life to the movement, which shows the power of art as inspiration.
Carbon Culture Review (April 1st, 2015) published an interview by Alyssa Watson discussing the worldbuilding rules and definitions with a couple of writers including myself.
Eco-fiction.com (July 2nd, 2015) interview with Adam Flynn on Solarpunk. Discusses Flynn’s notes toward a manifesto.
New Republic (November 9, 2015) published an article discussing the Utopian genre’s influence on Solarpunk.
Amazon has a few novels in the literary genre (List to come). There are many! I’d suggest doing a search for “solarpunk”.
If you’ve got a link or a website where people are discussing solarpunk, please let me know. I’ll add it to this list and to the .org and .com websites once they’ve been developed. For more information on what parameters I use in my worldbuilding for solarpunk the literary genres, please continue reading.
Comments are welcome, but if your comments are in anyway insulting or mean, they will be deleted. If you’d like your solarpunk website or link added here, leave a comment below. A nice one.
When I wrote my first solarpunk novel Timewalkers: They Also Walk Through Walls in 2004, I fell in love with this idea of a perfect future. But as a writer, I needed to figure out the inherent conflict and reasons for setting my story in this world. By my second solarpunk novel Donor in 2009, I had a working definition and copious notes for the rules of this genre. Please note: Solarpunk is a genre that is yet in flux, and I’m sure other writers will probably have different thoughts on the subject. I also expect that my definition will evolve.
What is a Solarpunk World?
Better living Through Technology. Solarpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre focused on mankind in harmony with his environment but in disharmony with himself. It features advanced science and environmentally-friendly technologies such as clean energy, recyclable or particle synthetics, and/or ambient energy.
In my novels, petroleum based products such as gasoline and plastics have been outlawed.
What is a Solarpunk Timeline?
Solarpunk begins post now in a world that uses renewable, bio-friendly energy resources and building materials—a world capable of, but weighing the ethics of, genetic and bio-enhancing technology. The timeline spans from the use of solar energy to ambient energy, and may include teleportation as well as anti-gravity devices. The timeline also spans from a fusion of the new and old (bio-friendly and historic architecture side-by-side) to cities in the sky where the earth below has been restored to its natural, pristine state and global pastoralography is a viable science. The timeline ends pre-space exploration.
In other words, near future but pre-Star Trek.
What makes my novels solarpunk?
Perfect World, Imperfect People is the phrase I use to describe my novels, where the perfect world setting is integral to the conflict. In other words, if not for a perfect world, my characters would not be experiencing their particular conflicts.
The world in my novel Donor creates conflict in that we have everything we want except immortality, so we make monsters of ourselves to live forever young. In my next novel Solarpunk, the world is perfect, and we can choose to live forever young, but now how do we deal with overpopulation?
What’s the potential conflict?
If the world is perfect and we have everything we could want, what then is the problem? The only possible remaining blemish is the human condition. Originally I defined that as a breakdown due to a narcissistic neurosis. But really Humankind is a multifaceted beast that has so many delicious potential flaws.
Isn’t there already another perfect world genre?
The subgenre that comes closest to solarpunk is a combination utopian (Perfect world) and dystopian (nothing is pefect), usually labeled dystopian, where the world is perfect but society is not and the perfection of the world benefits a few at the expense of the many. While solarpunk may explore themes surrounding the disenfranchised, in my definition the disenfranchised suffer as a result of the perfection not in order to create it.
Do we need another genre?
Do you know of many writers that stay strictly within one genre? Not many, right? Most of us do mashups. A genre is merely a set of guidelines, a starting point. Where a writer goes from there is wherever the story needs to go to be compelling. But for a reader, we like knowing the starting rules of the world we’re about to get lost in. So genre’s help identify what a reader can expect at the very least. For example, solarpunk as I’ve defined it means my characters won’t be struggling for water, food, or clean air. But yes, they’ll suffer anyway because the world is so darn perfect.
Post Apocalyptic and Dystopian stories have made their mark on the world. Now it’s time for Solarpunk to make a difference in the world. In other words, Solarpunk is a genre whose time has come because it has the artistic and literary power to push beyond our cultural doomsday mindspeak and make us believe in the future again. A well written story can do more than make you live in its pages. A well written story can make you believe.