7 reasons why solarpunk is the most important speculative fiction movement in the last 20 years
  1. It’s hopeful. Solarpunk doesn’t require an apocalypse. It’s a world in which humans haven’t destroyed ourselves and our environment, where we’ve pulled back just in time to stop the slow destruction of our planet. We’ve learned to use science wisely, for the betterment of ourselves and our planet. We’re no longer overlords. We’re caretakers. We’re gardeners.
  2. Scientists are heroes again. And not just physicists and astronomers. Knowledge of biology and earth sciences matter, they’re the building blocks for a future on Earth. Scientific literacy isn’t just for academics – it’s part of daily life. People know how the things they use work, and if they don’t, they can access that information. 
  3. It’s diverse. Solarpunk is rooted in using the environment, so it looks different in different places. Alternative energy is best when specific to place (I imagine geothermal, wind, tidal, and hydroelectric energy sources are still used in certain places) so no overarching government system is needed. Communities can organize themselves, taking their own location and needs and history into account. Brazilian, Inuit, Egyptian, Pacific Northwest, and New Zealand solarpunk can all look very different, but be unified in resourceful, intentional, low impact living.
  4. Individuality still matters. In a post-scarcity society, ingenuity and self-expression are not sacrificed on the altar of survival. With solar power there’s no reason not to go off grid, if that’s what you want to do. Communities can self-organize. You can find a community that suits you, or go live by yourself if that floats your boat.
  5. There’s room for spirituality and science to coexist. Solarpunk is rooted in a deep understanding and reverence for natural processes. There’s room for spirituality there, be it pagan, Buddhist, Sufi, Transcendentalism – anything. There’s so much to explore, from nature worship to organized monotheistic religions, and how they interact with solarpunk.
  6. It’s beautiful. The most common solarpunk aesthetic is art nouveau, but again there’s room for diversity, incorporating art styles from multiple cultures in respectful, non-appropriative ways. The most important aspect of solarpunk aesthetic is the melding of art and utility. The idea of intentional living is strong in art nouveau, but it’s not the only art movement with that philosophy.
  7. We can make it happen. Now. Earthships. Permaculture. Aquaponics. Algae lighting. Compostable products that turn into fields of flowers. Buy Nothing organizations. Tiny, beautiful, efficient homes. Solar power cells you can see through. That’s all happening now. Solarpunk is within our grasp, at least on a personal level. I’m not saying there aren’t still big, ugly infrastructures devoted to unethical consumption, but we can start to tear them down. We can build a solarpunk world with stories and small changes. And small changes lead to big changes. That’s the real beauty of solarpunk. It’s not a post-apocalyptic power fantasy. It’s not a wistful daydream, or an elite future only for physicists. It’s something we can work towards right now. It’s tangible.
The fact that colonialism is so central to science-fiction, and that science-fiction is so central to our own pop culture, suggests that the colonial experience remains more tightly bound up with our political life and public culture than we sometimes like to think. Sci-fi, then, doesn’t just demonstrate future possibilities, but future limits—the extent to which dreams of what we’ll do remain captive to the things we’ve already done.

Fiction Week

lsjohnson submitted to medievalpoc:

I’m sure you’re already aware of the anthology being put out by Crossed Genres called Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, but the Table of Contents is up now and I suspect that some of the stories therein will fit your framework admirably.

Thank you for this marvelous blog! You have made me aware of many blind spots in my educational background, and given me direction in overcoming them. My writing is much, much better due to your work. I am truly grateful.

Thank you so much and


Why tell stories from the margins of history?

We want to take a step toward righting an injustice that goes back to the dawn of time: some types of people are deemed more worthy of protagonist roles than others.

We believe that all people are the heroes of their own stories. We want to provide solidly grounded historical fiction to modern readers, who may have only encountered myths, fragments, or garbled notions of how marginalized people lived (and died) in past times—or may never have learned anything about those people at all.

By foregrounding marginalized people from the past, we hope to amplify marginalized voices in the present. Every story will make a statement that these voices deserve to be heard, and these stories are worth telling and reading.

Why make them speculative stories?

We want to reclaim speculative literature. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers frequently spin tales of intrepid conquerors and feuding kingdoms that have their roots in real-world history of invasion and oppression.

This perpetuates the idea that certain people are unfit for heroism, and leaves many speculative fiction fans longing for protagonists they can identify with and stories that recall their own personal and family histories. Those fans deserve a book like this.

Speculative fiction is what we know best: Crossed Genres publishes speculative fiction, Daniel writes it, and Rose edits and reviews it. We’re passionate fans of genre fiction. And like anyone who puts together an anthology, at heart we’re simply looking for the kinds of stories we’ve always wanted to read.

Our hope and belief is that you’ll be as excited by this anthology, and as eager to read it, as we are.


Seriously, they have a table of contents up with the authors, story titles, and settings!!! It comes out in MAY 2014!!!

Religious curses are so interesting because they reflect world-building more accurately that the other types of swears do.

So when Patrick Rothfuss’s character says “Shit in God’s beard,” you know beards are important to the culture of the guy who is swearing, and when N.K. Jemisin has one of her characters, a god, say “gods,” in a moment of frustration, a reader learns something about this world: there is more than one god, for example, and this particular god probably prays to a god higher than herself.

Swearing is about taking the name of something important in vain. You can learn a lot about a culture’s values by looking at the things it considers to be obscene.

That’s the best kind of (expletive deleted) world-building there is.

All social change is speculative fiction because we’ve never seen a world without poverty, never seen a world with total equality, never seen a world without prisons…therefore activism IS speculative fiction, it’s visionary fiction because we are writing a world we’ve never seen but a world we’d like to live in.

It’s hard and unapologetic but it’s hopeful because it can cause us to move; it wakes up and shows us that change is possible.

—  a quote from AN EVENING WITH OCTAVIA’S (Butler) BROOD, as summarized by author Crystal Connor (via Balogun Ojetade, blackspeculativefiction)
Capricious magazine Seeking Speculative Fiction Stories for Debut Issue - Pays $50/story

Capricious, a new magazine of literary speculative fiction and commentary, will debut its first issue this September. Editor A.C. Buchanan is seeking literary and experimental fiction, as well as non-fiction essays about speculative fiction. 

The magazine aims to publish the literary/experimental/slipstream part of speculative fiction, including fiction that examines the connection between an environment and its inhabitants, stories about disability that elude the familiar tropes, and stories that explore gender.

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University of Iowa Libraries Begin to Digitize Decades of Fan Fiction
Every library has a sci-fi section, but not many can compete with the collection of speculative fiction that has been growing steadily at the University of Iowa (UI) in recent years. While the UI Libraries boast an impressive collection of works by notable authors in the genre, it’s not the focus of the UI’s universe-spanning sci-fi collections.

Blerd Bookstore Struggle + 10 Black Speculative Fiction Anthologies

Whenever I step inside of a bookstore, my first stop is always the science fiction section. Routinely, I’ll do a scan for my favorite Black science fiction authors, and nine times out of 10, Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Samuel Delany and other popular Black science fiction authors have been placed on the African-American literature shelves. This seems to send a very clear message to readers: Black authors who write science fiction are somehow “other.” These stories are not considered traditional science fiction or aren’t really science fiction at all; it belongs, instead in the special interest, ethnic, or diversity categories of the bookstore. The categories that usually take up the least amount of space in the room, as if we have fewer stories to tell.

Fiction Week!

Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction

In an anthology that spans from India in the west to Hawai‛i in the east, and as far south as Australia and New Zealand, 24 authors bring you an exciting range of tales set in the past, present, and future.

Discover characters like the Moon Rabbit from Chinese mythology, a kitsune from Japanese mythology, and the aswang from Filipino mythology.

Find out what arises when a struggling Malaysian student seeks help for her studies in Chinatown, and what happens when the garbage in the Pacific Ocean is seen as a valuable treasure.

Futures imagined stretch from amazing advances in technology to depressing dystopias.Read these stories and so many more in Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction.

Stories featured in this anthology are:

Available exclusively for Kindle on Amazon

TROPE OF THE WEEK: I hate my dystopic job!

Living in the hell-hole that is a dystopia – no matter if it’s capitalist or communist – means that your characters hates their job. They were forced into this position, but the government has been in control for so long that there’s no means of fighting it, so no one tries. Despite everyone hating their job, however, no one ever tries to rebel against even this small facet of the world. Well, not until your story begins, at least.

Why this can be bad: This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. While of course the dystopic government doesn’t want its people to rebel and may use fear to control a populace, fear can only go so far. After all, the characters in the dystopia also tend not to have any happiness or leisure outside of work, either, and if they do, then it’s not anything significant. History shows that unhappiness is the driving force in revolution, so if your people can’t even be happy in their jobs, they’re not going to stay there very long. That unhappiness will feed into other parts of their lives, and before long, that dystopia is out, even if it’s just replaced by a different one.

How you can fix it: For the most iconic examples, Brave New World and 1984 handle these issues in very different ways. BNW diffuses any unhappiness in the populace’s work lives by pumping leisure time full of drugs to keep citizens languid and content. If you can’t make your people happy at work, you can at least make it happy outside of work, right? Oceania of 1984, on the other hand, tries to grant some kind of fulfillment to its people (or we can infer that, at the very least). Winston, who is the most angry at and hateful of the government, manages to find pleasure and satisfaction in his government-assigned job rewriting history, despite hating that the government rewrites history. He finds an aspect of it fun, and so while he’s angry most of the time, there’s a bit of joy that can be found in his everyday life.

Bottom Line: A government, even a dystopic one, wants its people to be happy because a happy people will not rebel. Amend your world as needed.

Picture: Screencap from Dystopixelia by Kvantpant.


Deadline: December 1, 2015
Length: up to 10,000 words
Anticipated publication date: Fall 2016
Paid: Yes (rates to be determined)
Contact email: specfic@topsidepress.com
Submit work to: https://topsidepress.submittable.com/

Topside Press is accepting submissions for an anthology of short speculative fiction by self-identified transgender writers. Speculative fiction can include science fiction, horror, fantasy, alternate history or any fiction which envisions a world that is fundamentally different from our own.

Our goal for this anthology is to showcase the talent of a diverse range of authors and catalyze the next wave of meaningful, moving, and politically engaged speculative fiction.

About the Editors:

Cat Fitzpatrick co-edited Sybil Lamb’s 2014 novel I’ve Got A Time Bomb. Her zines include “At least It’s Short,” “You Have Ripped Your Dick Off,” and “I Walked Through The Desert.” She is a poet, essayist, and professor at Rutgers University-Newark.

Casey Plett is the author of the short story collection A Safe Girl To Love and wrote a column on transitioning for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She contributed to the Topside Press anthology The Collection: Short Fiction From The Transgender Vanguard and her work has been featured in Rookie, Plenitude, Two Serious Ladies, Anomalous Press, and other publications. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.

About Topside Press:

Topside Press is a small independent publisher that began publishing transgender fiction in 2012 with The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard. In 2013, Topside published the ground-breaking novel Nevada, by Imogen Binnie. Find out more at www.topsidepress.com.

Here’s one of the great circular conundrums of our time:

We need more characters of color/LGBT characters/characters with disabilities/characters that aren’t the default white, able-bodied cis male in speculative literature.

I, a speculative fiction author, am afraid of writing characters of color/ LGBT characters/characters with disabilities/characters that aren’t like me or from my cultural and social understanding because I might get it wrong, and if I get it wrong people will be angry at me and yell and also ruin my career.

I’ve seen and heard writers (mostly white) express some version of that at least a hundred times since RaceFail 09. They point to that discussion or any number of other public Fails since then and go: SEE?! You see? That’s what happens when we try!

There are a few things about this that need addressing. First, large, public Fails actually happen when authors don’t try. Second, the problem is rarely that the author tried and didn’t get it exactly, 100% right. It’s that they failed and then acted like an ass when someone pointed it out to them. Third, avoiding author Fail isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be.

Most importantly, the consequence of being ruled by that fear is that you aren’t helping with the first problem. And if I may be so bold, I think the issue of representation is far, far more important than individual fears of getting it wrong. I also know that it’s hard to tackle that first issue without also addressing the second. Luckily, I have the solution.

Next summer I’m teaching at the Writing the Other workshop/retreat alongside Nisi Shawl, Cynthia Ward, David Anthony Durham, and Mary Robinette Kowal. Tomorrow, registration for this workshop opens up. If you are the type of author who has been held back from addressing the issue of representation in SF by fear that you’ll get it wrong, this workshop will give you tools to help you get it right. There’s no guarantee that you will always, 100% get it right if you attend this workshop. I am confident that at the end of it you won’t be 100% ruled by fear.

Registration opens tomorrow, October 13th, at 12pm Eastern. The workshop fee is $500 and includes meals but does not include accommodations. Click over to the Eventbrite page to see all the details.

How many of you will I see there?

God’s in His Heaven, but the world isn’t right

Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (Dark Horse, $19.99).

This new edition of the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story (and later, radio play) “Murder Mysteries,” from the collection Angels and Visitations, is an example of how much an artistic collaborator can bring to the mix.

P. Craig Russell, who’s also drawn some of Gaiman’s Sandman series, as well as illustrating some of Bill Willingham’s Fables series, turns this story into a lyrical tale very much like the medieval mystery plays from which Gaiman takes his inspiration.

Where the mystery plays formed a tableau to illustrate a religious miracle, Gaiman puts an entirely new spin on the concept of a miracle: What if evil entered the world because God willed it? In this story within a story, we have the tale of the first murder, in heaven, of one angel by another, and the vengeance served the wrongdoer. 

But vengeance and justice are not the same thing, and there may be more than one murder mystery afoot here. It’s certainly the case that Russell has created a heavenly city that looks a great deal like a medieval cathedral. 

Also included is a lengthy interview with Russell, illustrated with panels from the novel, which explains how decisions were made about what to include and how the collaboration with Gaiman worked.

In all, a lovely edition of a classic story, good for both collectors and Gaiman fans as well as for casual readers of speculative fiction and graphic novels.


Fiction Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Fish Eats Lion: New Singapore Speculative Fiction
ed. by Jason Erik Lundberg

Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore
ed. by Amanda Lee and Ng Yi-Sheng

LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction #1

by Joyce Chng

The Promise Bird
by Zhang Yueran

I just wanted to drop a line from Singapore and say that there’s loads of speculative fiction here, being written and published in the English language here. (Not all of it is written by us - that last book, The Promise Bird, is a translation of a fantasy epic written by Zhang Yueran from China, but she set it in medieval Southeast Asia during the age of Chinese maritime exploration.)

Naturally, almost all of these books feature POC protagonists, because, um, we’re in Asia.

I’d like to say “all”, but there have sadly been Singapore authors who’ve aimed to get a more “international” readership”by writing fantasy novels starring white kids. 

Archibald and the Blue Blood Conspiracy
by Shermay Loh

The Seeds of Time
by Shamini Flint

This drives me nuts, ‘cos we’re inundated with loads of white-centric UK, American and Australian lit already. But please don’t send my friend Shamini hate mail - I really do like The Seeds of Time, and pretty much all of her other stuff (for adults and kids) is centred on Asian characters in a big way.

The Black Tribbles Radio show + The AfroFuturist Affair is CALLING ALL WRITERS AND STORYTELLERS OF BLACK SCI-FI & AFROFUTURISM for our Third Return to OCTAVIA CITY!

All throughout April 2015, Black Tribbles and afrofuturistaffair with Mythmedia Studios will turn over FIVE LIVE BLACK TRIBBLES RADIO SHOWS (broadcast on WHYY and GtownRadio.com) to the big event. Every show in April will feature original short stories, music, spoken word pieces and personal reflections on the influence the work of #OctaviaButler has had on the artistic community.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS for all artists, writers, screenwriters (wouldn’t a cool stage reading sound great?) and music/spoken word performers interested in showcasing their craft. Send an email to OctaviaCity@gmail.com letting us know what you wish to contribute to OCTAVIA CITY 2015. Submissions are due by March 20th.

Solarpunk is just as much a utopic fantasy dependent on invisible Macguffin as the Gleaming Atomic future of the 50′s and 60′s.  It’s fantasy is of 100% efficient, clean solar energy that cures all social ills.  This is as much a fantasy as a matter replicator on star trek or the clean and safe nuclear power of the Jetsons

.  Solarpunk’s defined by what’s missing from it’s sunny, stained glass worlds.   Namely, the means of production, the problems of energy storage, ignorance of class inequalities in access to technology, and the miraculous resolution of all social conflict.

Solarpunk is a ridiculous dream as it is now conceived..  If you’re attached to the aesthetic and don’t want to be disillusioned about your nice sun themed fashion lines don’t read on.  Or you don’t want to listen to a cranky person.

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Cicada magazine Needs Stories on ‘Witches’ - Pays 25 cents/word

Cicada magazine, a cultural arts publication for young adults, is inviting writers to submit stories for a forthcoming issue on Witches. This issue will publish folk and fairy tale retellings, explorations of the witch in history, works on the ordinary spellcraft of fashion, beauty, makeup, and the domestic (the hearth, the cauldron, the kitchen) as well as the spellcast by the arts. Also of relevance: the witch in nature: the garden, the dark wood, the night.

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