edited April 2020 in Future

Apparently it's all the rage:

The name refers to solar power.

A 2014 manifesto tells us:

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance.

It even has a Wikipedia page! (I guess they didn't have to wait as long as we did getting an entry about dieselpunk approved.)

I like the gist of this, although I'm not sure this has much to do with cyberpunk, steampunk and dieselpunk anymore? I remember the long and divisive debates we had about the "punk" in "steampunk" - I would be careful about using that term.

Although here it might actually fit.

What do you think? Something that will catch on?


  • It's a cool character design concept, maybe for a few novels, but I don't see it becoming an actual thing.

  • Cool but too cute :)

  • I don't think it would be cute, but I can just see a 1950s style outfit in my mind incorporating solar panels. Alas, whilst I have the machinery necessary to make the garments, I don't have anything that would let me fashion miniature faux solar panels to attach to them. Maybe I'll just do a design sketch for the fun of it :)

  • More on solarpunk from Speculative Tertulia:

    As a movement, solarpunk is admirable. It cheerfully defies centuries of oppression and exploitation. Its values are twenty-first-century values.

    It imagines cities full of greenery, with clean air and water. Fashion made of natural materials, not plastic or synthetic fabrics. Art Nouveau art and music which rejects mass production.


    Still, I have reservations.

    As much as I love optimistic science fiction, solarpunk can be too utopian (although not as much as hopepunk).

    Yes, I want utopian visions of the future. And yes, I love happy endings. Still, too many ‘puppies and rainbows’ equals not enough conflict. And conflictdrives the plot and makes for exciting reading.

    Also, solarpunk can be too preachy.

  • I don't necessarily see Solarpunk in this cheerful utopian light. I can also see a more dystopian future where solar panels and wind and water turbines are some of the only ways to generate energy.

    As for the defiance of centuries and exploitation. I would like to counter that with a saying that is very common in the vintage style community: "vintage style but not vintage values". It's not because you take from a certain era you agree with everything that happened in that era. Every age has things to admire and thinks to despise. It's the same thing with every other manner of 'punk, I don't see how solarpunk is different in that regard.

  • Those remind me of that solar car race they normally do each year.

  • One could argue Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 is in this genre, with an optimistic view of the future. It also ticks every box of the phrase "fully automated luxury gay space communism."

  • More on solarpunk:

    Writers, illustrators, architects, and political radicals have eagerly embraced the nascent solarpunk genre as an optimistic alternative to the gloomy, polluted sprawls of cyberpunk and the "everything has a cogwheel" decor of steampunk. Additionally, many Afrofuturist creatives have adopted trappings of the solarpunk genre to build hypothetical worlds where futuristic technology mingles with traditional African architecture, artwork, and fashion, as is seen in the fictional country of Wakanda from Black Panther. In short, solarpunk is shaping up to be the new big thing - not just for books and movies, but for video games, too.

    The article also gives some solarpunk tropes and characteristics:

    • Mix advanced technology and sustainable urban ecologies with design motifs from centuries past: Art Nouveau buildings with stained-glass windows and rooftop gardens, bio-engineered tree-buildings, old-fashioned electric trolley cars and blimps, a revival of hand-crafted goods, augmented reality networks, and, of course, solar panels everywhere.
    • Solar symbolism and bright primary colors.
    • Reject the neon grime of classic cyberpunk and the white sterile corridors of classic sci-fi settings in favor of futures that are vibrant and hopeful, while still feeling tantalizingly plausible.

    I like the optimism of it!

    The author concludes:

    Many of the problems in the modern world can be solved; brilliant scientists, activists, and social reformers across the world have been innovating practical, compassionate solutions to problems like poverty, inequality, prejudice, police brutality, and environmental damage. [...] what better way to inspire people to work towards better worlds than by creating simulations of these better worlds for them to explore and experiment with?

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