Solarpunk, the genre of ecocritics and Tumblr bloggers alike, hovers awkwardly at the edge of book parties, occasionally clearing its throat when someone mentions “climate change” or the increasing chance of living through a “post-apocalyptic” future. It is a genre that seeks to respond to the overwhelming surplus of dystopian literature in today’s literary market by presenting readers with an alternative: a future wherein society as we know it has dissolved, yes, but dissolved by dropping its “Man versus Nature” modus operandi and adopted “Man with Nature,” instead. Solarpunk literature is deliberately hopeful. It depicts a world that thrives within its own means, putting itself solidly in line with the activism of the modern sustainability movement. That is not to say that solarpunk is the genre of tree-hugging hippies, though; it makes intentional use of its “punk” suffix. Solarpunk provides an alternative look at the future not only by rejecting post-climate change despair but also by giving a voice to the stories of minorities who are sick of reading about futures that are rich, male, upper-class, straight, and white.
Having spent a year writing a thesis laying out the foundation and literary genealogy of solarpunk, I’ve come to believe that while solarpunk is still planting its literary roots, it represents an opportunity for hope to return to the literary scene – for positivity, maybe, to become trendy again. It is the literary genre of positive punks who want to fight for a thriving world instead of succumbing to a broken one.
- “Le carré rouge” by Claudie Arseneault.
- “Last Day” by Brandon Crilly
- “Community Outreach with Reluctant Neighbors (alternatively: How to Avoid Cults)” by Kat Lerner
- “Soylent Green is People!” by Carlos Orsi
- “Looking Across the River From Two Directions” by Scott Szpisjak
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
- The Telling by Ursula Le Guin
- “Four Visions of the Future: Will it be Star Trek, Ecotopia, Big Government, or Mad Max?” by Robert Costanza
- “Solarpunk: Notes Toward a Manifesto” by Adam Flynn
- Castle in the Sky by Hayao Miyazaki
- Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki
Celia Daniels is a recent recipient of a Bachelor of Arts in English from Indiana University Bloomington. Her senior thesis, “Solarpunk: An Alternative Look at Literary Futures,” was inspired by her desire to find a cross section between her work at the Indiana University Office of Sustainability and her undying love of literature. Celia has had creative work published in Road Maps and Life Rafts and Magic Jar and analytical work published in Invocations: Undergraduate Journal of Religious Studies. Her poetry will soon appear in Claudius Speaks and 11.9, an upcoming anthology.