Reviews

Review: Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation

35235851Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation edited by Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland

Genre: Solarpunk, Science Fiction, Anthology
Published: August 29th 2017 by Upper Rubber Boot Books
Purchase: Publisher | Amazon | Book Depository
(Note: The publisher link has plenty of indie buying options for US&Canada people.)
LGBTQAI+: Several stories have LGBTQAI+ protagonists or side characters, e.g. dust by daniel josé older, you and me and the deep dark sea by jess barber, and others

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is the first anthology to broadly collect solarpunk short stories, artwork, and poetry. A new genre for the 21st Century, solarpunk is a revolution against despair. Focusing on solutions to environmental disasters, solarpunk envisions a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom.

Edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland, Sunvault focuses on the stories of those inhabiting the crucial moments when great change can be made by people with the right tools; stories of people living during tipping points, and the spaces before and after them; and stories of those who fight to effect change and seek solutions to ecological disruption.

It was very fitting to name this anthology Sunvault, because it was truly a vault of little treasures. A collection of short stories, poems, and even drawings about the sun, plants, water, and different methods to live in peace with our planet. In them, you can find dozens of creative inventions, from solar-powered giraffes to green children. You can find activists who risk their lives and freedom for others, and people who are just trying to live in this world. You can also find the characteristics and people of many different cultures.

There were almost 40 pieces of stories, poems or drawings in this anthology. Some of them were more difficult to read, with science or cultural references that I didn’t quite understand. But there were also stories that made me cry, and stories that made me scared, or hopeful for our future – or all of the above.

First, the anthology opens with a Foreword: On the Origins of Solarpunk, as well as an editor’s note, which was pretty useful, given that (other than a few very short pieces of writing) this anthology was my first “longer” introduction to solarpunk.

Solarpunk, a new movement in SF that examines the possibility of a future in which currently emerging movements in society and culture such as the green movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and certain aspects of Occupy Wall Street coalesce to create a more optimistic future in a more just world. – Foreword

Solarpunk emphasizes innovative interaction with both our communities and our environment; socio-environmental thought and creation, rather than merely survival in a decaying world, inspire the solarpunk attitude. – Editor’s Note

It would take forever to review every single story, so I’m going to talk about some of my favourites.

  • the boston hearth project by t.x. watson (this story was about a group of people basically doing a heist to take over a building and turn it into a homeless shelter, and it was amazing)
  • speechless love by yilun fan, translated by s. qiouyi lu (I appreciate that this was a translated work, and the story itself is great as well – it takes place in a world where people live in hoverships because the planet surface is not habitable)
  • radio silence by carlin reynolds (this one is a drawing so I can’t say much about without just describing the whole thing, but I love it and the title is so fitting)
  • solar powered giraffes by jack pevyhouse (this is a seven-line poem and I absolutely love it)
  • pan, legs resting by sireesha reddy (another amazing drawing)
  • last chance by tyler young (this story is about humanity destroying two planets, so when they get to the third one, they name it ‘last chance’, and they come up with a pretty cruel but hopefully effective way to save this one.)
  • the desert, blooming by lev mirov (one of my favourite things about this story was that there were no pronouns or gendered words used for /anyone/, only their names. and yet it wasn’t distracting at all and it took a while to even notice)
  • the seven species by aleksei valentín (this one is a great poem)
  • boltzmann brain by kristine ong muslim (I can’t even explain why but this one made me cry)
  • the reset by jaymee goh (a scientist makes a machine that sets the Earth back 30 years so there is time to counteract the destruction of the planet, only it goes wrong and everyone still remembers those 30 years even though they were physically reset. I loved this concept from the beginning, but the little twist at the end made me cry.)
  • you and me and the deep dark sea by jess barber (two old friends and maybe something else deal with the loss of their girlfriend after the apocalypse. it’s also about a community surviving and holding together after the apocalypse. I loved that it was kinda small-scale but equally important.) They end up down by the ocean, slumped against each other, daring the water to come for them.
  • through the glass by leigh wallace (another beautiful drawing)
  • a catalogue of sunlight at the end of the world by a.c. wise (listen. I sobbed at this one. it’s about an old man staying behind on Earth as most other people live in spaceships for a new planet.) No one, not even a planet, should have to die alone.

It was difficult to narrow it down, but this is already a pretty long list. Just because something isn’t listed here doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. Ultimately, I think this was a great introduction to solarpunk because there are truly so many stories and little snippets, so everyone is bound to like at least a few.

I’m going to end with two funnier quotes:

  • “Liam, helping out by lounging around and looking pretty” (you and me and the deep dark sea)
  • “I’ve even adopted a cat. Or it’s adopted me. A little grey kitten I’ve named Predator X. They won’t have cats in space.” (a catalogue of sunlight at the end of the world)

My rating: 🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞/5.

~ Alexa

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