Solarpunk is a newly genre and subcultural movement of Speculative Fiction that focuses on craftsmanship, community, and technology powered by renewable energy, wrapped up in a coating of (Neo)Art Nouveau blended with Neo-futurist version of African and Asian art. It envisions a free and egalitarian world with a slight bend toward anarchy. Standing as both a reaction to the nihilism of Cyber Punk (along its subgenres like Steampunk or Biopunk) and a solution to a lot of the problems we face in the world, Solarpunk works look toward a brighter future ("solar") while deliberately subverting the systems that keep that brighter future from happening ("punk").
The genre started on Tumblr in 2014 when a single post swept bloggers into an excited frenzy.
Other aspects of Solarpunk include a quasi-Utopian setting, usually Twenty Minutes Into the Future, Near/Far Future or rarely Far Past (unintentionally Princess Mononoke as famous example), with the occasional Crystal Spires and Togas and sometimes Petting Zoo Animals (Bio(-genetic) engineered or not) to add weirdness or other unwanted proposed elements. Like the Tumblr community that fostered the genre, Solarpunk also tends to feature a high level of cultural awareness, gender equality, self-expression, and artfulness.
Contrast with Postcyberpunk, which saw the Cyberpunk movement and came to different conclusions. Postcyberpunk accepts the world we have and the systems that support it like globalization, industrialization, and exploiting resources in slightly-less-bad ways. Meanwhile Solarpunk aims to subvert those systems and replace them with ones that work better in the long-term through local communities, supporting artisans, and living sustainably.
And likely combine lighter and more utopic verisons of Biopunk (if used for good), Ocean punk and Skypunk themes and set in near/far future with rarely set in far past (again) with realistic (sci-)fantastic elements.Like any budding genre, the number of works is still low. However there are works that are distinctly Solarpunk, and many more works contain important Solarpunk elements or are Solarpunk without knowing it.
- Treasure Planet features a blend of Victorian and Art Nouveau styles with futuristic technology powered by golden solar sails. And also most people in movie are mixed of Normal humans (who are very small minority), Aliens and Anthromorphic animal-like aliens.
- The works of Hayao Miyazaki, while created before the Solarpunk movement began, have helped to shape the movement:
- Princess Mononoke: A village in the throes of industrialization clashes with the forces of nature (via mythical creatures), but they ultimately learn to coexist? Sounds about right in Muromachi period japan.
- Castle in the Sky: The city of Laputa features hanging gardens and overgrowth that's reminiscent of the urban farming movement of today.
- WALL•E: As the credits roll, we see that the newly-returned humans build a society that's a lot healthier for themselves and the world.
- Beasts Of The Southern Wild: The film plot starts with a local teacher warning about global warming and the rising sea levels, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The people in the Bathtub refuse to let a levee ruin their way of life, so they break it down. Then the city government forcibly removes them from the Bathtub, so they rebel even more. The film is steeped in environmentalism, anti-authoritarian characters, but the Bathtub manages to retain a sense of happiness with their way of life. With also ideas of movie setting uses Ocean punk and magical realistic elements.
- Zootopia (and the city itself) fits this aesthetic, Put most its have own subversion on genre with mainly Anthromorphic animals (instead have few or several them) in controlled (falsely) utopia that all its citizens (if vast majority seen so far from film) are clearly closeted racists/specieists in this universe of victims by Prey vs Predator stereotype concept or some cases just down straight Animal Jingoism. The city building design blends shiny Art Deco with (Animalistic version) African/Asian art style since they have almost all African/Asian animals. And beautiful architecture, sprawling design, and districts environmentally controlled through advanced civil engineering (via small homes for Rodent residents as examples).
- Citizens and main characters of Tomorrowland discuss this idea in near end of film as what if Humanity reversed direction from becoming dystopic self-fulling prophecy. They did manage through by killing the Anti-Villian and later getting other earthlings into their dimension universe. And also main characters themselves are also Androids in final scenes like Athena.
- The Summer Prince features a blend of tech and tradition in the tropics of a future Brazil.
- Wings of Renewal, an anthology of dragon-themed Solarpunk short stories.
- Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, which is set in a distant and seemingly post apocalyptic future, is written as an ethnography of the Kesh culture, whose agrarian (athough they’ve got Internet…in a book written in the ‘80s) classless society is depicted in sharp contrast with the warlike, stratified, and expansionist Dayao.
- In Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower, the Earthseed ideology employs a lot of garden metaphors along with actually encouraging its adherents to garden. (When you consider that Earthseed was born in part out of resource scarcity, both of the above make sense.)
- In Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, the future which protagonist Consuelo has the most contact with is the one in which the seemingly utopian (although the inhabitants admit that there are flaws in the system, and they haven’t eliminated war or capital punishment) community of Mattapoisett, which blends small-scale agrarianism with advanced green tech, exists. Oh, and there’s a war going on against a horrific (if only vaguely outlined) dystopia.
- Miriam “Starhawk” Simos’s The Fifth Sacred Thing is a tale of Magical Realism set in a Twenty Minutes into the Futureversion of San Francisco which the residents are in the process of rebuilding into a haven of green tech and sustainability. Oh, and there’s a war going on against a horrific (and far more clearly defined) dystopia.
- Joe Kimball's 2011 novel Timecaster has some proto-solarpunk elements. The setting is a demi-utopian, biofuel-driven future in which virtually every available surface is used for gardening; it's also a Free-Love Future whose politics are projected from present-day progressivism. However, the implications of this are contrary to solarpunk's natural-fiber aesthetic and to some aspects of its focus on craftsmanship. Because the demand for biofuel is so great, making durable goods or luxury consumables out of natural materials is seen as wasteful; wooden furniture is rare, paper is against the law, and even historical artworks are supposed to be gathered up and converted into fuel.
- We Happy Few is first past fictional example have signs that goes this direction in Retrofuturistic Atompunk theme way, even despite is right now set pretends being an real utopia in 1960s England.
- Game mod Portal Stories: Mel ending that civilization seems long deserted as protagonist Mel leaves ruins of Aperture Science made town is begins try find any life like humans or other earth animals (along with probably aliens due connections with Half-life games as canonized by Valve) left.
- Canon example that Portal series eco-futurist postmodern style and gameplay are likely inspried creating this movement little into video gaming.
- In Sonic CD, traveling back to the Past and destroying a robot generator in each stage will prevent the Bad Futurewhere the place is converted into a Polluted Wasteland by creating a new timeline where technology works in harmony with the environment to create a vibrant and colorful Good Future devoid of enemies.
- Numbani, the "City of Harmony" in Overwatch, featuring curved bronze skyscrapers and African tribal decorations, where humans and robots live together in peace.
- Technological utopianism as along other futurist/technological focused movements seen below are qualified here.