This is a shower thought regarding the relation between solarpunk and
its predecessor cyberpunk I haven't given this much thought but
it might have some merit to it, or not. I have some major anxiety
about voicing thoughts and opinions in public but here goes nothing.
Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of lowlife and high tech" featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
Solarpunk is a movement that encourages optimistic envisionings of the future in light of present environmental concerns, such as climate change and pollution, as well as social inequality.
I believe that solarpunk can be seen as a subset of cyberpunk. Maybe
subset is the wrong word but the solarpunk attitude seems to fit
perfectly into the cyberpunk way of viewing the world.
While cyberpunk was a foreboding warning of things to come many of us who
has been following this genre increasingly have a crawling feeling that
we are now living it , albeit a mundane boring version of it,
probably without a sexy antihero saving the day. Sure, we have no general
artificial intelligence entities nor a true cyberspace but our world
looks, at least more and more like the dystopic world the scifi
writers of the 80's and 90's envisioned.
When we live in a pretty dark world with bleak future prospects, what
to do about? If we simplify the options one can either accept things as they
are or dream of something better. Clearly, solarpunk nicely fits into the
I believe that the solarpunk narrative can be seen as set within the "larger"
cyberpunk narrative. Or a reaction/anti-reaction to it. Solar embedded
Imagine a typical cyberpunk story. There will be a group of crusty
hacker punks fighting the arm of some almighty megacorp. There
will be exciting tech that has found unexpected use on the streets and
all the other usual stuff, high tech - low life.
Life for the (trans) proletariat will probably be very hard in this world.
Some of the more rebel minded people will most likely group together and
try to build something better and greener in the shell of the old. This group
of people might not be depicted in the novels and the movies but I find it
very easy to imagine them in this context (though I'm very interested in
seeing examples of solarpunks in gritty cyberpunk settings).
I'm conscious of the fact that I'm mixing reality and fiction when
discussing this but that is part of the point. Who can tell the
difference between fiction and reality nowdays anyway?
One can argue that the world we live in is far from being anything close
to being cyberpunk and that would make this whole line of reasoning
mute however if we just play with the idea and take it as a given I
think the solarpunky reaction to modern society brings up many
interesting points. Solarpunk not only wants a greener future but also
better world for everyone. Many, if not all, seems to be leaning towards
some form of social anarchism. But wait, there is more. They are trying to make this a reality today.
While I'm personally a bit too nihilistic and cynical to fully embrace
solarpunk I find it to be a much needed breath of fresh air in the
boring dystopia that is our world today.
End of rambling shower thought.