These days, cyberpunk seems to be everywhere. There’s the game that everyone’s talking about, of course, but the subgenre that’s defined by gritty neon-lit cityscapes and corporate dystopia seems to be everywhere these days. But if you’d like some hopeful notes to your science fiction, there are some alternatives, like the relatively new subgenre that is solarpunk.
Solarpunk is seen as something of a direct response to cyberpunk, envisioning green cities that exist in harmony with nature and people who work together to solve problems, rather than struggling under corporate oppression. The subgenre isn’t strictly utopian, many solarpunk stories deal directly with issues like climate change and resource scarcity, and try to show how people might deal with those problems.
Solarpunk hasn’t been around very long, the name only having been coined in the late 2000s, and slowly growing in popularity through the 2010s. That said, there are numerous science fiction works pre-dating this time that are consider to be proto-solarpunk, including works by authors like Ernest Callenbach, Ursula K. LeGuin, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Octavia Butler.
If you interested in learning more about solarpunk, the science fiction and fantasy podcast Imaginary Worlds has an episode that serves as a great primer on the genre. You can also check out Dream Forge Magazine, which is covered in the episode, a mostly-online periodical that’s currently one of the main publishers for new solarpunk stories.
I hope you all have a great day!