I’ve been envisioning green cities for the sequel to my science fiction novel Secrets of Zinder. The solarpunk movement has been a great source of inspiration. Instead of imagining a world torn apart by corporate greed, government corruption and environmental disaster, why not imagine a world where humans have evolved past capitalism into life-friendly social organizing?
Dark visions of the End of the World are influenced by American culture. Corporate privatization and offbeat politics combined with America’s Biblical literalists ranting about the apocalypse have given rise to a whole lot of American-flavoured post-apocalyptia that shows the more gruesome, dark and evil sides of people, like The Walking Dead.
As much as I am fascinated by the genre of post-apocalyptia, especially the Japanese art and literature influenced by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a lot of the contemporary shows and movies on Netflix and in Hollywood reflect where the United States is headed. That makes sense. When I watch The Walking Dead, I’m sometimes struck by the fact that my culture is similar in some ways, but also fundamentally different than the one I’m watching and things would just plain go differently in Canada. (My brother and I talk about this every time we watch a new episode… First of all, the zombies couldn’t walk in Canadian winter. Problem solved. Second, all the guns. Totally different, we basically don’t shoot each other and that’s the plot of every Walking Dead episode. When you think about it, there are tons of shows that don’t translate in Canadian: reality shows on TLC, Breaking Bad, etc.)
Canadians watch a lot of American television! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy The Walking Dead. The 100 is awesome. Sometimes I feel like watching a futuristic take on where my culture is headed though. This is why I am loving the solarpunk movement. These visions of carbon-neutral eco cities look more like the descendants of a city like Vancouver, for example, which enacted a zero-emissions building plan, Ottawa and Toronto’s Green Building policies, the province of Manitoba’s green building policy, and others. From the early 2000’s onward, Canada has been moving in greener directions. I optimistically envision a city that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists, where cancer levels are reduced, where there is plenty of public green space, and where transit is free and sustainably powered.
I’m writing these cities into my stories, and I am excited for solarpunk to take off and inspire lots of new speculative fiction.