Guest post by Claudie Arseneault, author of the solarpunk novel Viral Airwaves.
Science fiction fans, get ready: there’s a new genre in town, and it’s called solarpunk.
I say new, but solarpunk has been around a few years already, at least. I discovered it some six months ago, and I fell in love instantly. Solarpunk is all about envisioning a positive future, deeply rooted in sustainability, community, and acceptance. Unlike post-apocalyptic and dystopian, it believes humanity can and will overcome its current struggle to build a better world. One where capitalism lays in shambles, and community and solidarity finally prevail over productivity.
Solarpunk is a movement as much as it is a genre: it’s not just about the stories, it’s also about how we can get there.
And what’s extra cool? Is that solarpunk is a movement as much as it is a genre: it’s not just about the stories, it’s also about how we can get there.
One thing that falls naturally from solarpunk’s premise is diversity. The community frequently talks about how to honor and integrate different cultures without appropriating them, and there’s a growing watchfulness for ways to create accessible environment.
So what about the LGBT community?
The general consensus is that differences in gender and sexualities would be celebrated. I’ve seen a lot of ‘of course they’re accepted’ and ‘LGBT+ couples are frequent and can adopt’ going around, but I don’t remember anything going deeper than that. And let’s be honest: imagining LGBT+ couples happily married and building nuclear families feels like the minimum. So, knocking down heteronormativity, that’s a good start.
Then you can knock down our friendly (nope) western gender binary. Gender is no longer assigned at birth. How do you go about that in a solarpunk universe? Maybe neutral gender names are given at birth (based on plants? A community-shared surname? Values?) and the child gets to choose name and gender later on. Pronouns are part of a normal introduction. There could even be several sets that are “flower-coded”, and an accessory with that flower is indication of the pronouns to use.
There’s a lot more that could go into the worldbuilding (heck more ideas in the comments are more than welcome). That’s part of the fun in solarpunk.
It allows you to imagine a truly positive and safe future.
Stories where we escaped that bullshit are vital. They’re not just fun. They help make the goal real and accessible.And considering how rife with tragic stories LGBT+ literature is? We deserve that escape. Some people protest that there is nothing punk in a hippie-green future. But here’s the thing: punk is refusing to accept false universal truths constantly pushed down our throats, and standing up together against them.
- Screw the whole big fish eats the small one.
- Screw being a productive member of society.
- Screw Man + Woman must a) fall in love, b) have sex, c) build a family as a model for happiness.
Stories where we escaped that bullshit are vital. They’re not just fun. They help make the goal real and accessible. These are the stories I want to tell—those with hope as a driving force, a form of resistance against today’s pervasive defeatism.
And Solarpunk is the perfect genre for it.