10 Solarpunk Books to Make You Stay Optimistic About the Future

Solarpunk books are a genre of speculative fiction that imagines optimistic futures where renewable energy and sustainable living practices are central themes. While the genre is still relatively new and evolving, several books embody solarpunk themes or are considered part of the solarpunk canon.

“The Overstory” by Richard Powers

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel intertwines the lives of characters with the natural world, exploring themes of environmental activism, interconnectedness, and the power of trees. While not a traditional Solarpunk novel, it emphasizes humanity’s relationship with nature and the potential for ecological regeneration, aligning with Solarpunk’s focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Buy The Overstory here!

“The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers:

This science fiction novel follows the diverse crew of a tunnelling ship as they travel through space. While not strictly Solarpunk, it embodies themes of inclusivity, cooperation, and the celebration of diversity, which are central to solarpunk ideology. The novel emphasizes the importance of community and mutual respect, envisioning a future where people from different backgrounds come together to navigate challenges and build a better world.

Buy The Long Way to a Small Angry planet here!

“Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World” edited by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro

This anthology is a cornerstone of the solarpunk genre, offering a diverse collection of short stories that envision optimistic futures where humanity has embraced sustainable technologies and practices. From stories of communities thriving in harmony with nature to explorations of innovative renewable energy solutions, this anthology showcases the creative possibilities of solarpunk storytelling. Authors featured in the anthology include Brazilian writers such as Fábio Fernandes and Telmo Marçal, among others.

Buy Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World here!

“Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow

Set in a near-future world plagued by income inequality and environmental degradation, “Walkaway” imagines a society where disaffected individuals choose to leave traditional civilization behind and build their communities based on shared resources and collaboration. As characters navigate the challenges of establishing a new way of life, the novel explores themes of post-scarcity economics, decentralized governance, and the power of collective action in shaping a more equitable future.

Buy Walkaway here!

“The Fifth Sacred Thing” by Starhawk

Set in a post-apocalyptic future where a sustainable society in Northern California stands in contrast to a tyrannical regime in the South, “The Fifth Sacred Thing” explores themes of ecological stewardship, social justice, and spirituality. Through the perspectives of diverse characters, the novel portrays the interconnectedness of humanity with the natural world and the resilience of communities united in their commitment to peace and sustainability.

Buy The Fifth Sacred Thing here!

“The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi

In a future, Bangkok ravaged by environmental crises and biotechnological manipulation, “The Windup Girl” follows the struggles of its characters against the backdrop of a society grappling with the consequences of unchecked corporate power and genetic engineering. Through its portrayal of a world on the brink of collapse, the novel raises questions about ethics, environmental sustainability, and the implications of technological innovation gone awry.

Buy The Windup Girl here!

“The Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson

Set in the not-so-distant future, “The Ministry for the Future” explores the efforts of an international organization tasked with advocating for the interests of future generations in the face of climate change. Through a mosaic of interconnected narratives, the novel examines the complex geopolitical, economic, and social challenges posed by global warming while offering hopeful glimpses of humanity’s capacity for innovation and collective action in addressing existential threats.

Buy The Ministry for the Future here!

“The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi

Set in a near-future American Southwest devastated by water scarcity and political corruption, “The Water Knife” follows the intersecting paths of characters caught in the struggle for control over dwindling water resources. As tensions escalate between competing interests, the novel explores themes of environmental justice, resilience, and the consequences of ecological collapse, painting a vivid portrait of a society teetering on the brink of collapse.

Buy The Water Knife here!

“New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson

In a future where sea levels have risen and Manhattan is partially submerged, “New York 2140” follows the lives of residents living in the altered cityscape as they navigate the challenges of climate change and socioeconomic inequality. Through its richly detailed portrayal of a resilient community adapting to environmental upheaval, the novel offers a vision of hope grounded in human ingenuity, solidarity, and the enduring spirit of urban life.

Buy New York 2140 here!

“Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler

Set in a near-future America plagued by social unrest, environmental degradation, and economic collapse, “Parable of the Sower” follows the journey of a young woman named Lauren Olamina as she navigates a landscape of chaos and violence. Drawing on themes of resilience, community, and the power of empathy, Butler’s novel offers a vision of hope amidst adversity, as Lauren strives to realize her vision of a better world through the creation of a new faith centred on Earthseed, a philosophy of adaptation and change.

Buy Parable of the Sower here!

Have you read any of the books on the list? What’s your favourite Solarpunk Book? We’d love to hear from you. 

Other things you might want to know:

What is solarpunk literature?

Solarpunk books are a genre of speculative fiction that imagines optimistic futures where renewable energy and sustainable living practices are central themes.

What is the genre solarpunk?

Solarpunk is a sci-fi subgenre and social movement that emerged from the internet in 2008. 

What is the difference between solarpunk and ecopunk?

Solarpunk focuses specifically on solar technological solutions and transformations. Ecopunk is fully open to sustainable technological developments.

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