Step into a world where eco-consciousness meets imagination, and sustainable futures bloom with the brilliance of a thousand suns. Welcome to the enchanting realm of solarpunk literature, where stories unfold beneath canopies of green, and innovation harmonizes with nature. In this curated journey, we invite you to explore 18 solarpunk books that transport readers to utopian landscapes, where solar panels glisten on rooftops, wind turbines dance with the breeze, and a greener tomorrow is not just a dream but a vivid reality.
As we navigate the challenges of our planet’s future, solarpunk literature emerges as a beacon of hope, offering narratives that blend sustainability, optimism, and innovation. These novels are more than just stories; they are visions of what our world could become—a place where eco-friendly technologies, community resilience, and a deep reverence for the environment converge to shape vibrant and thriving societies.
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Join us on this literary odyssey as we uncover the beauty of solarpunk through 18 handpicked novels. From towering eco-cities to rewilded urban landscapes, each book invites you to envision a future where the sun powers not only our energy needs but also our collective aspirations for a sustainable and harmonious coexistence.
So, fasten your seatbelts, fellow readers, as we embark on a journey through the lush tapestry of solarpunk novels, where the pages are alive with the promise of green innovation and the limitless possibilities of a sun-kissed tomorrow!
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.
A Psalm for the Wild-Build – Becky Chambers
It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.
But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’s new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.
To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist’s gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.
Pacific Edge: Three Californias – Kim Stanley Robinson
2065: In a world that has rediscovered harmony with nature, the village of El Modena, California, is an ecotopia in the making. Kevin Claiborne, a young builder who has grown up in this “green” world, now finds himself caught up in the struggle to preserve his community’s idyllic way of life from the resurgent forces of greed and exploitation.
Ectotopia – Ernest Callenbach
Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem. The perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor. New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.
Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda. Energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged and his cynicism replaced by hope. Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.
New York 2140 – Kim Stanley Robinson
New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson returns with a bold and brilliant vision of New York City.
As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.
There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear — along with the lawyers, of course.
Then there is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home. And who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.
Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all. And even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.
Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler
This acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel of hope and terror from an award-winning author “pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale“. (John Green, New York Times).
When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers. From pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions.
Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more. The birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.
Walkaway – Cory Doctorow
Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.
But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be. Except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.
After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life. Food, clothing, shelter. All of these from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.
It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.
The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil. The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. Amid this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.
Way Station – Clifford D. Simak
Enoch Wallace is not like other humans. Living a secluded life in the backwoods of Wisconsin, he carries a nineteenth-century rifle and never seems to age. A fact that has recently caught the attention of prying government eyes. The truth is, Enoch is the last surviving veteran of the American Civil War and, for close to a century, he has operated a secret way station for aliens passing through on journeys to other stars. But the gifts of knowledge and immortality that his intergalactic guests have bestowed upon him are proving to be a nightmarish burden. For they have opened Enoch’s eyes to humanity’s impending destruction. Still, one final hope remains for the human race . . . though the cure could ultimately prove more terrible than the disease.
Orion Shall Rise – Poul Anderson
On a post-nuclear Earth, visionaries who dream of reaching for the stars attempt to revive the forbidden technology that destroyed their world.
Centuries ago, humankind was nearly destroyed in a nuclear apocalypse. Many generations have passed since that terrible time, and the remnants of civilization have re-formed into separate, vastly different societies. The dominant culture of a widely diminished Earth, the ecologically sensitive Maurai hold fast to their belief that “non-green” science is an unacceptable evil. But the reborn dream of space flight harbored by a forward-thinking few could herald the revival of the nuclear technology that once ravaged the planet and its people. The powerful Maurai Federation will take every step necessary to prevent doomsday from dawning again.
Emergency Skin – N.K Jemisin
Winner of the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.
What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.
An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out ages ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.
Island – Aldous Huxley
In “Island,” Huxley presents readers with the fictional paradise of Pala, an idyllic island in the Indian Ocean. Here, the inhabitants have created a harmonious society that combines Eastern philosophy, scientific advancements, and a deep reverence for nature. Pala stands as a counterpoint to the dystopian visions often portrayed in Huxley’s earlier work, offering a compelling exploration of an ideal society.
Join protagonist Will Farnaby as he embarks on an unexpected journey to Pala. Initially driven by his own personal agenda but ultimately transformed by the island’s profound wisdom and compassionate way of life. As he interacts with the island’s inhabitants, including the enigmatic Dr. Robert MacPhail and the captivating Susila, he witnesses the integration of ancient wisdom and modern knowledge. And the transformative power of love and understanding.
The Ministry for the Future – Kim Stanley Robinson
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
“The best science-fiction nonfiction novel I’ve ever read.” —Jonathan Lethem
The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of the year, this extraordinary novel from visionary science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson will change the way you think about the climate crisis.
Zahrah the Windseeker – Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
In the Ooni Kingdom, children born dada—with vines growing in their hair—are rumored to have special powers. Zahrah Tsami doesn’t know anything about that. She feels normal. Others think she’s different—they fear her. Only Dari, her best friend, isn’t afraid of her. But then something begins to happen—something that definitely marks Zahrah as different. The only person she can tell is Dari. He pushes her to investigate, edging them both closer and closer to danger. Until Dari’s life is on the line. Only Zahrah can save him, but to do so she’ll have to face her worst fears alone. Including the very thing that makes her different.
Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers – Sareba Ulibarri & More
Solarpunk is a type of optimistic science fiction that imagines a future founded on renewable energies. The seventeen stories in this volume are not dull utopias—they grapple with real issues such as the future and ethics of our food sources, the connection or disconnection between technology and nature, and the interpersonal conflicts that arise no matter how peaceful the world is. In these pages you’ll find a guerilla art installation in Milan. A murder mystery set in a weather manipulation facility. And a world where you are judged by the glow of your solar nanite implants. From an opal mine in Australia to the seed vault at Svalbard, from a wheat farm in Kansas to a crocodile ranch in Malaysia, these are stories of adaptation, ingenuity, and optimism for the future of our world and others. For readers who are tired of dystopias and apocalypses, these visions of a brighter future will be a breath of fresh air.
The Fifth Sacred Thing – Starhawk
The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.
Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.
To call these things sacred is to say that they have a value beyond their usefulness for human ends. They themselves became the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. No one has the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy.
All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance: only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.
To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. Honor the sacred is to make love possible.
We dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this, we’ll dedicate our lives.
Other Genres To Try if you like Solarpunk Books
If you enjoy solarpunk books, which typically focus on environmentally sustainable futures, renewable energy, and optimistic visions of society, you might also find interest in related genres that explore similar themes or offer complementary elements. Here are some genres and sub-genres to consider:
Epic Fantasy: Epic fantasies traverse expansive kingdoms, showcasing heroic quests, mythical creatures, and intricate political landscapes. Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson masterfully paint vivid universes that echo the imagery of a solarpunk future.
Cyberpunk: Dystopian futures, high-tech worlds, and morally ambiguous characters are the hallmarks of cyberpunk. This genre is spotlighted by authors like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. This will cater to those who relish the technologically advanced settings common in solarpunk.
Steampunk: For readers who appreciate the fusion of technology with historical elements, steampunk offers tales set in a Victorian-era backdrop powered by steam and clockwork innovations. Authors like Cherie Priest and Scott Westerfeld present worlds where adventure and invention intertwine.
Hard Science-Fiction: Hard science fiction emphasizes scientific accuracy and feasibility. If you appreciate the technological aspects of solarpunk, you might enjoy hard sci-fi novels that explore advanced technologies and their societal impacts.
By exploring these genres, you can discover a variety of perspectives on environmental sustainability, futuristic technologies, and the potential for positive change in the face of environmental challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Solarpunk books?
Solarpunk is a genre of speculative fiction that envisions optimistic and sustainable futures. Rooted in the response to the often dystopian narratives of cyberpunk and other genres, solarpunk explores worlds where society has successfully embraced renewable energy.
What are the beliefs of solarpunk?
Its themes may reflect on environmental philosophy such as bright green environmentalism and social ecology. As well as punk ideologies such as anarchism, socialism, anti-consumerism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-capitalism, civil rights, commoning, and decentralization.
Is Solarpunk the opposite of Cyberpunk?
For the most part, yes. Cyberpunk often visualizes the future as a overtly technological society, whereas Solarpunk focuses mostly on more modern, eco-friendly approaches to a technological future.
Whether you’re a seasoned solarpunk enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, the novels within its embrace beckon readers to dream of cleaner, greener tomorrows. So, as you close the pages of these books, may you carry with you not just the stories of characters navigating solar-powered landscapes but also a renewed sense of hope for the possibilities that lie ahead.
In the world of solarpunk, the sun never sets on the potential for positive transformation. Let these novels be both a guide and an inspiration.