Before we were plunged into a seasonal pandemic-caused cycle of socializing and distancing, I loved reading dystopian science fiction. Tales about the future where everything was bleak—protagonists struggled in corrupt authoritarian intergalactic, corporatised ‘verses; climate change crated new territories to colonize; young adults became terrorists to survive zombie-infested lands.
Sci-fi written about terrible worlds where a little hope, a little determination was the only light. These scrumptious tales went beautifully with lazy mornings, an Earl Grey and bowls of snacks.
Then things changed – for me at least, maybe for you too.
The world today feels so tiresome. We use the word ‘cope’ in everyday exchange between friends. We’re facing challenges like climate emergency and covid, not sometime in the future, but right now, right here. Our world is shaping into the dystopian tales we imagined.
The future is now. And it’s anxious, frustrating and emotionally flux.
Perhaps that could explain why I’ve moved to writing (and reading) different sci-fi subgenres. I’ve gone back to the escapist genre of space opera
, a tried and well-loved genre of fantastical intergalactic empires, and heroic protagonists. And I’m also writing something we’ve consciously named solarpunk
(sometimes ecopunk) that explore green futures enabled by dramatic, doable technologies and anti-establishment protagonists.
My recent short story, The Songs that Humanity Lost Reluctantly to Dolphins
(published in English
) was part of a worldwide anthology of such hopeful stories which explore cities shared by humans, animals, insects, plants and machines. Though optimistic, my story was a bit sad, showing my dystopian roots, where a collective ‘us’ suffers because dolphins take over the world and our children. The story’s being discussed in a few classrooms across the world, which is kind of cool and surreal.
Other than bursts of short-lived positivity, my current WIP is all about escapism – an entertaining romper on a spaceship with a bunch of weirdos, travelling across the universe. Escapism, after all, is the best medicine for some of the anxieties I (and probably you) face. The novel is not there yet and I don’t know when it’ll be ready to face the world.
But like the writers of solarpunk, I have hope and resilience.
I hope you have it too. Keep working on that idea, my dear pal. I want to leave you with some inspiration, and some leads to encourage you to write and create.