Sunday, February 10, 2019

Solarpunk, light and the end of the climate apocalypse tunnel

A new type of science fiction, solarpunk takes as its premise the idea that climate change is unavoidable and probably will be severe, but demands optimism of its writers. A 2015 essay on the genre’s political ideals and inspirations by Andrew Dana Hudson refers to solarpunk as a “speculative movement, a collaborative effort to imagine and design a world of prosperity, peace, sustainability and beauty, achievable with what we have from where we are.” In practice, so far this has meant a bunch of short fiction and visual art, numerous explanatory essays, and a lot of enthusiastic conversation on social media and in online communities. But those associated with it tend to hold out hope that solarpunk could be a starting point for something bigger, something that could help propel a shift away from our contemporary sense of defeatism.

Solarpunk cohered into an identifiable thing in the early 2010’s (though the term predates this by a couple of years), so it is still relatively new. A scroll through the solarpunk tag on Tumblr (where the movement gained some of its early momentum) or an image search reveals a distinct style in which nature has reclaimed space in futuristic cities and people incorporate organic material into the design of their buildings, clothing, and infrastructure. It’s a bright color palette: greens, blues, oranges. The aesthetic invites comparisons to predecessors like steampunk or cyberpunk, but solarpunk adds overgrowth and sunlight to its mix.

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