Friday, 22 December 2017


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Sunvault Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation
Editor: Phoebe Wagner/Bronte Christopher Wieland
Publisher: Upper Rubber Boot
ISBN: 193779475X  ISBN13: 9781937794750
Pages: 253
Reviewed by: Sandra Scholes

At the moment people are more aware of their surroundings and the possibility that our environment might become depleted in years to come. We have heard of cyberpunk now it is the turn of solarpunk to make its presence known.

Upper Rubber Boot publish anthologies of fiction and poetry. I previously reviewed 140 and Counting, which I enjoyed and Sunvault counts as being interesting enough to be new and what makes it special is each story is short and broken with illustrations and poetry.

Andrew Dincher's foreword says the solarpunk genre started way back with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Jules Verne and HG Wells making a mark with their writing as a social comment on what was going on in the world or what could. By the 50s ad 60s the top writers of sci fi wrote in the solarpunk genre with Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Alfred Bester having a sixth sense of what the future would be like years from now and not all of it was positive. Whether it was dystopian or showed the advancement of humans at the expense of our planet all possibilities are explored in these predictive stories. More well known authors are Samuel R Delaney, Philip K Dick and Harlan Ellison.

These writers looked at possinle worlds and how the future would advance or not. Delaney foresaw how hunans could be enslaved. Herbert's Dune has essential elements of how man can survive on a desert planet while at the same time predict the future using a substance called "spice" to excellerate precognition

Maura Lydon's The Herbalist is a simple yet interesting short which is to the point about a stranger visiting a place where nothing grows after a gas explosion apart from a Herbalist shop where plants flourish despite outside chaos. The stranger wants to cultivate some basil for a special pesto sauce. The way Lydon has placed the stranger in an alien environment is comforting to a certain extent as life can be nurtured in a hostile place. Boltzmann Brain by Kristine Ong Muslim is another where certain animal species are becoming extinct, documenting how many years it has been since they eventually died out. There are short messages that seem to broadcast to the ether as so far the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has had no one respond. I could almost feel the helplessness in Muslim's work and the despair with each broadcast.

Something I would like to mention I appreciated with Sunvault was the way artists were listed alongside authors as being just as important, and rightly so. I loved the following pieces; Hand Over the Future by Clara Ng, Facing the Sun by Bogi Takacs, Solar Flare by Christine Moleski, Through the Glass by Leigh Wallace and Radio Silence by Carlin Reynolds. Apart from the stories and art, there are poems that should not be left out. Please by Chloe N Clark, has a mother telling her children about Earth and to be patient with humans and how the world has changed. In The Seven Species by Alexsei Valentin has a sacred box a man carries round with him containing seed crops that could be cultivated to make the world green again.

There is a sense of the Ark of the Covenant about this poem and I liked its prose. Fairy Tales & Other Species of Life by Chloe N Clark where the distinction between fairy tale and reality is made clear. The fairy tales are gone never to return and people could rebuild the future using once upon a time as a form Of irony.

Sunvault - Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is the sort of anthology that has needed to come out for ages. It is diverse, forward thinking and makes us think about how the world could be as it has the potential to be positive.

Further reading from Upper Rubber Boot:

Books by Upper Rubber Boot you might be interested in:
*140 and Counting: an anthology of writing from 7x20 by Joanne Merrian ed, 2011.
* Johnny B: a short story by Phil Void, 2014.
* Hiss of Leaves by TD Ingram, 2012.
* The Sky Needs More Work by Covey Mesler, 2014.

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