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. - Wikipedia
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. - Wikipedia
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 1, 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 latter.
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 in cyber.
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.
the 20-minutes into the future. virtual reality, increasing authoritarianism, climate change, pollution, wars, influencers, the psycedelic renecanse drones, private armies, china vs usa vs russia, schenzeng, facebook, bitcoin, silk road, cypherpunk, state run hacker operations (see stuxnet), drm, chinas creditscore system, smart phones, increasing wage gaps, late stage capitalism,capitalist realism, the "gig" economy, ccc & defcon, hackerspaces, the infosec industriy, the snowden revelations, 2016 us presidential elecion,iphones, tiny houses, biohacking, housing market going to hell worldwide, copyright laws, gentrification, g8 hamburg, the pirate bay, ransomware, the panama papers,capitalist realism, militarization of police, the right to repair movement, farmers buying ukrainen hackers to mak their tractors work, rojava, techwear, apple, analog and digital minimalism, fake news and massive disinformation operations, driverless electric cars, GNU/Linux + all the bsd flavors, the popularity of mr robot, cannabis normalization, alexa, google home, siri, hong kong protests, NSA, privatization of the commons, amazon, telecomix, rain forests on fire, tinder dating, revenge porn, deepfakes, 4chan, arabiska våren, crypto wars 2.0, private survalience companies, increasing total state survalience, anonomous, designer drugs, survalience capitalism, the death of physical news papers, pokemon go.
the list goes on...
Our current world is a strange place.