I wanted to write down something to summarise how I feel about the Solarpunk concept and what it means, as a genre, as a movement, and as an attitude. It came out longer than I’d expected, so I guess that means I had a lot to say (the read more link doesn’t work in mobile – I’m so sorry!). I’m sure this will change over time, but I thought I’d post it here anyway.
Solarpunk can be summarised with one simple sentence – The future is bright.
We, right now, live in a world where the dystopian fears of the Cyberpunks are slowly turning into reality. A world ravaged by a handful of rich, greedy people, draining the world’s resources to line their pockets, while showing callous disregard for who they step on to get their way. A world where the dystopian fears of Orwell and the negative utopian fears of Huxley often seem to lie a little too close to home. A world fragmented by war, prejudice, social constructs, and an established order which is failing. All too many people are resigned to nihilism in the face of perceived inevitable doom.
In the face of all this darkness, Solarpunk stands up and says no. No, this is not the future we were promised, and this is not the future we will accept.
Cyberpunk and Solarpunk are actually based on very similar tenets. Both contain the central idea that human nature doesn’t tend to change. The key difference is that Cyberpunk assumes that the worst human traits will dominate, leading greed and exploitation to win out. Consequently, Cyberpunk is full of grimdark dystopian visions and high levels of cynicism. Solarpunk in contrast assumes that the best human traits will dominate, giving more optimistic eutopian (not utopian) visions. Cyberpunk is in reaction to the shiny spacesuits and silver rockets of the 1960s. Solarpunk, in turn, is in reaction to Cyberpunk.
Where Cyberpunk is about nihilism, Solarpunk is about anti-nihilism. Maybe it’s true that we’re all doomed to inevitable catastrophe. But if nothing matters in he end, we’re going to damn well make the best of what we’ve got, because what do we have to lose either way? Perhaps we might even make life better in the process.
In a divided world, Solarpunk is about unity. In a dark world, Solarpunk is about light. In a cold, uncaring world, Solarpunk is about warmth. In a world robbed of optimism, Solarpunk is about hope.
Deep in its softly beating heart, Solarpunk focusses on these four core principles: Unity, Light, Warmth, and Hope.