What is this?
Solarpunk Press is a new market for solarpunk short fiction. Right now our plans include two phases: Year 1, and Hopes and dreams. During Year 1 we plan to publish 1 story a month for 12 months, in audio and text form, available for free, starting October 2015.
I meant "What is solarpunk?"
Oh. Sorry. Solarpunk is, broadly speaking, near future science fiction that deals seriously with the major environmental and social problems of the 21st century, and approaches them with optimism. The aesthetic starting point for the movement is this August 2014 Tumblr post by Olivia of missolivialouise, which imagined a strong aesthetic relationship to Edwardian and Art Nouveau fashion. Ideologically, this September 2014 Project Hieroglyph article "Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto" by Adam Flynn set the map for the conversation.
Since then, both the aesthetics and the politics have diverged beautifully.
In the hyphenpunk tradition
Solarpunk is a response to pessimism and apocalypse in SF overall, but obviously it has a special relationship to the other -punk genres, the two most significant of which are cyberpunk and steampunk. In different ways, solarpunk is a reaction to both of these.
Cyberpunk, like solarpunk, was near-future SF dealing with the plausible consequences of existing technologies and social trends. And, as we hope solarpunk will be, cyberpunk was fairly prescient. As Kyle Marquis tweeted in 2013, "Unless you're over 60, you weren't promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia."
And when we arrived at the 21st century's cyberpunk dystopia, suddenly steampunk blossomed. And, look: there's nothing wrong with escapist adventure fantasy. Steampunk is loads of fun. But steampunk takes the industrial, capitalist, fossil-fuel economy and individualist ideology of the 21st century and re-casts it into a setting where it didn't cause everything to go wrong. (Or, it did, but it's a different "Everything went wrong" that doesn't address our real-life experience of poverty, war, racism, misogyny, climate change, and etc.)
Just as steampunk's pocket watches aren't steam powered, and cyberpunk's monomolecular wire isn't in any way "cyber," not everything in solarpunk is about solar energy. The "solar" in solarpunk points out one of the biggest mandatory large-scale projects for humankind's near future: switching to alternative, carbon-neutral or negative energy sources. Solarpunk worldbuilding has involved, so far, wind power, hydroelectric, geothermal, photosynthetic, and, yes, a whole lot of solar.
Since this community got started, people have been asking "What's so punk about solarpunk?" Stories about the belief that global problems are solvable seems to conflict with the popular conception of what 'punk' is.
We see the punk in solarpunk when we look at radical acceptance of cultural diversity; in the open and explicit rejection of the belief that people have to generate profit for a corporation in order to deserve life and liberty; in the choice to use illegal green energy while the police -- defending the economic interests of fossil fuel -- try to shut those systems down.
We see punk in the embrace of art and music; in the emphasis on accessibility in design; in the refusal to accept that the 0.01 percent are the only people with a say in the economy and the government.
We see solarpunk in the Occupy movement -- how people gathered together and rewrote the conversation about wealth in the world, and, for a while, fed people and gave them shelter and community.
We see values consistent with solarpunk in the legalization of gay marriage. In the fight to protect net neutrality. In the removal of the confederate flag from the state house of South Carolina.
We have been watching impenetrable barriers of politics and economics crumble by the force of the people's roar, and we believe that the only sensible thing to do with that information is to get louder.
Who are we?
We are T.X. Watson and Faith Roses Gregory. We're both enthusiastic fans of solarpunk as an emerging genre and we're excited to have a hand in building its body of published work. We're both white people from the US, and if this project goes well it'll be a priority for us to bring more diversity to our editorial staff following year 1.
T.X. Watson blogs at txwatson.com and watsons-solarpunk.tumblr.com. They graduated from Northern Essex Community College in spring 2015 with associate degrees in philosophy and journalism, and are currently studying Science Fiction and Fantasy as a form of Activism at Hampshire College. They're nongender; most conventional and neo-pronouns are acceptable.
Faith Gregory blogs at samesexgamgee.tumblr.com and watsons-solarpunk.tumblr.com. A genderfluid badass of exhaustion, hey graduated from Northern Essex Community College in August 2015 with associate degrees in political science and journalism and now lives in the Amherst area where she works in retail and laments their inability to afford the academy. She goes by she/her and they/them pronouns.