science fiction & fantasy punks
Editor: Phoebe Wagner
Open for Submissions: March 1-31, 2022
Length: 500 - 7,500 words
Payment: $0.08 per word for unpublished stories, $0.01 per word for reprints (paid upon publication)
SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED
Solarpunk grew as a response to the popularity of dystopias, particularly from the 1990s through the early 2010s. Now as a more established genre, this anthology seeks to understand this legacy by pairing cyberpunk and solarpunk in a single volume. While not pitting the genres against each other, these stories will juxtapose nihilism and hope, dystopia and utopia, neon and solar. The aims of a cyberpunk story and a solarpunk story might seem at odds, but they are united through adherence to punk thought and the ideals of resistance to corrupt and oppressive systems that are devastating the living world.
What is Cyberpunk?
Cyberpunk depicts the stark contrast between the haves and the have nots in technologically-advanced, dystopian cityscapes. These sprawling urban areas are usually ruled by a corporate dictatorship that controls the social systems in service to the interests of the wealthy. This technological advancement comes at the cost of ecological collapse, with green spaces or “natural” food reserved for the ultra-wealthy. While the upper classes might have access to the best tech, cyberpunk celebrates the scrapper, the hacker, the junk rat making their own technology to survive the next acid rain or virus sweep.
As a literary genre, Bruce Sterling and William Gibson are credited with solidifying the genre through their respective books: Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Bruce Sterling and Neuromancer by William Gibson. As an aesthetic, the movie Bladerunner crystallized the cyberpunk look of crowded, gloomy cities lit by neon and holographic advertisements.
Cyberpunk continues in music, video games, TTRPGs, fiction, and movies. Some popular contemporary examples include Infomancy by Malka Older, The City: A Cyberfunk Anthology edited by Milton J. Davis, The Matrix Trilogy by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the contentious Cyberpunk 2077 video game, and Blade Runner 2049.
As demonstrated in certain examples such as Blade Runner and Cyberpunk 2077, cyberpunk struggles to correct the racism of the past, as pointed out by George Yang in “Orientalism, Cyberpunk 2077, and Yellow Peril in Science Fiction.” Writers are encouraged to think critically about the aesthetics of cyberpunk. As writers continued to develop the genre beyond the hegemonic white male centered in the early stories, cyberpunk can grow into an inclusive, anti-fascist, anti-racist body of work.
What is Solarpunk?
Solarpunk literature approaches climate change as an opportunity for transformation and adaptation. These stories acknowledge that we are all feeling the impact of climate change now, and that further devastation and ecological collapse are coming. Solarpunks further recognize that the climate crisis is also a social justice issue and there is no environmental justice without racial and decolonial justice. So, a solarpunk story is not just about hope, it’s about radical optimism and revolutionary hope. Solarpunk inspires hope through action.
While solarpunk has been defined through several anthologies, books, video games, and art pieces, there isn’t a flashpoint piece of media to define solarpunk in the same way as cyberpunk. A solarpunk story can be high-tech, low-tech, science fantasy, near future or far future, human or more-than-human, and on and on! Even so, a solarpunk story can be defined as:
Acknowledging and engaging with the impact of the climate crisis and ecological collapse
Acknowledging and engaging with the fact that climate change is not just an environmental issue but interwoven and inseparable from social justice issues
Pointing toward hope, adaptation, and transformation to the climate crisis rather than dystopia, communities in solarpunk futures are at least striving toward a more utopian world.
For inspiration, please check out:
A successful story will:
Whether cyberpunk, solarpunk, or a story transitioning between the two, a successful story will utilize the genre, not just be placed in the genre. In other words, if your story could be told without the solarpunk/cyberpunk elements, then it’s probably not meant for that genre. Make sure the story you are telling must be told through that genre or else it wouldn’t work. For example, a story about a hacker isn’t inherently cyberpunk; a story about a drought isn’t inherently solarpunk.
While every editor has hopes for the submission pile, a few things that I’m looking for:
explicit anti-capitalism, especially in the solarpunk stories
stories that show how oppression is undermined/overcome/destroyed (the process, not just the endpoint)
community vs alienation
cooperativism vs individualism (or finding a balance between the two)
centralization vs decentralization
the balance between technology and nature
leaders/protagonists from marginalized communities (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, women, disabled, neurodivergent, immigrant/refugee, etc)
imagining the human and more-than-human (such as symbiosis)
Don’t forget the punk! Both solarpunk and cyberpunk are inherently -punk genres. While punk can manifest in different ways in a story (protest, DIY/homemade focus, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-fascist, community, music, aesthetic), there should be a punk aspect.
Your story doesn’t have to include these ideas, but feel free to draw from these topics.
Story Length and Payment:
I’m looking for short stories from 500 to 7500 words. All authors will be paid $0.08 USD per word upon publication for original fiction. Reprints will be paid $0.01 per word. Payments will be processed through direct bank transfer or Paypal. For international authors who don’t have access to Paypal, other arrangements will be made.
How to submit:
Submissions will open from March 1-31, 2022.
Send your story to solarpunkwagner[at]gmail.com with the subject: Submission: Title.
If the format is wrong, your work may end up in a spam folder, so be diligent. Please send files only as .doc, .docx, or .rtf.
Please format your manuscript according to Modern Manuscript Format.
Please write a cover letter in the body of the email that includes the title; whether it’s cyberpunk, solarpunk, or a transitional story; and the word count. Please note if the story is a reprint and where it has been published. Please mention any relevant information in your letter (such as if you studied hydroponics and your story includes hydroponics, that might be useful to know) and include an author’s bio. Do not describe your story in the cover letter.
Simultaneous submissions are fine, but if accepted, the piece must be withdrawn from submissions elsewhere. If accepted elsewhere, please notify us immediately. You may only submit one story during the reading period.
The response goal is thirty days, but depending on the amount of submissions, it could be longer. Please don’t query until after three months. Questions and queries should be sent to solarpunkwagner[at]gmail.com.