When I first came up with the idea to center my work around Solarpunk (spawning from evidently far more popular Steampunk/Cyberpunk) it stemmed from the fact that – wait a minute, no one has yet to make a major work based off this uber-popular yet not totally abused source of energy yet, my golly gee, I’ve finally got a relatively original idea. Of course, it didn’t take long before a very micro Solarpunk movement made the rounds and I had to shed a couple of tears.
It’s not a totally bad thing. In fact, the advent of posts on Solarpunk has actually helped me round out the world I had in mind. It now goes beyond “steampunk-except-sun-replaces-steam.” The naturalistic ecological take on those subgenres has changed the world I was building. It’s no longer just a “steampunk-spin-off,” I mean, there’s a great deal of similarities: the airships, the victorian style, the automatons. But, you find those in Cyberpunk too, I think that’s more a staple of the “punk” sub-fantasy movement than it is “steampunk.”
I’ve never been an environmentalist either, yeah, I recycle, I don’t litter (hell, I feel way too subconscious littering, like someone’s going to snap and judge me for it) and I carpool (okay, that’s because it’s just way easier to get around with a bus in a huge city than it is a car… and I don’t drive). But it only made sense that in this world where the sun is venerated as a god almost, and where light is the most precious source of energy, that they would also sort of promote the other guys that get a great deal from the light, plants, animals, nature itself. So the world is kind of a hybrid of modern minimalism and naturalistic living.
Solarpunk goes beyond the visual aesthetics (and thank god because I don’t think my writing ability for describing an environment is just yet up to scratch). Though if this was a visual work, it’d definitely have brightly, vibrant colored palette. Solarpunk goes against the sort of grimdark mantra that’s taken over fantasy, the sort of gruff/dirty steampunk that we commonly see. And no, I’ve got no issue with that. G.R.R.M., Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, those are my favorite authors out there and my greatest inspirations.
Still, Solarpunk is a very optimistic look at the world. That’s not to say it’s a utopia because it’s not. There are bad people. There is darkness in the world (metaphorically and literally). In tentatively-titled-probably-going-to-change “Lumineers,” a lot of the characters have clashing philosophies (you might say those are my clashing philosophies) between idealistic views on the world and more existentialist, nihilistic, and selfish views on it. What keeps the protagonist going forward isn’t the knowledge that there’s a higher power and thus a moral order to the world, there probably isn’t one, but he still seeks to do right by it, to hold himself to moral standards, to seek to do good.
Now if I could just finish this goddamn book, maybe I’d beat the race to the first ‘big’ Solarpunk work. Eh. One can dream.