We think it's really cool that the first major solarpunk publication in English is a solarpunk/dragon genre mashup anthology, and we're totally happy to read and consider stories featuring dragons. But to be clear, we don't see solarpunk as being a fundamentally urban fantasy genre, and magical creatures are a hard sell. Some of the folks submitting seem to have gotten the impression that we're also looking for fundamentally dragon-based stories, so we thought we should clear that up.
Solarpunk is a genre of the anthropocene -- the era of Earth's environmental history in which the climate is affected by humans. This means two things: One, that we expect to see the consequences of human environmental impact up to this point. And two -- and this one's really important -- that we expect to see humans taking responsibility for, and control of, the climate. The major global problems posed by climate change are all at least marginally avertable, and we aren't interested in fiction that's about a failure to avert them.
The further into the future your story is set, the more progress should have been made toward averting environmental disaster. A story set five years from now can be about a small climate intervention movement; a story set fifty years from now needs to be a setting where major interventions have already taken place, because if humans are still treating the environment in fifty years the way we treat it now, we will have already failed.
We don't want to buy:
- Stories in which civilization has been ended by apocalyptic climate events
- Stories in which the sixth extinction is treated as inevitable and unmitigated
Partial failures are one thing, but we're looking for stories that make our readers feel like there's a possible future they can take action towards -- futures that feel achievable, and that feel worth fighting for. So, dealing with routine super-storms is one thing; the routine super-storms pushing all humans back to log cabins and ending the global community is another.
We subscribe to Charles Stross's one-way gate narrative of human history, paraphrased here by Elizabeth Bear:
Charlie presented the idea that history was a series of one-way gates; that every time we passed through one, it was a technological singularity from which there was no turning back. It was just that we adapted to these changes, and considered them commonplace: that the post-human future looked pretty human once you were in it.
We don't think it's likely that we'll reach -- and we definitely don't think any substantial portion of the global community would fight to achieve -- a future in which we no longer have electricity, high-speed travel, general purpose computing, the internet, etc. One of the major points of solarpunk is presenting futures that people can look forward to. That means if there's a problem with a major technology that your story seeks to resolve, it should be by improving the technology, or its support structure, or inventing new options to substitute its function -- not by persuading the global community to give it up. We feel we can categorically say we won't buy any stories that present an end to managed interior lighting, for example.*
We don't want to buy:
- Stories that depend on the absence of the internet to make sense
- Stories that depict travel as harder than it is now
corporate oppression stories should be about functional rebellion
govt oppression stories should be about functional community organizing and punk movement