Episode 84: Sarena Ulibarri and Ed Finn on Solarpunk

This week, we’re joined by Sarena Ulibarri, Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press and a science fiction writer whose works include Glass and Gardens and Biketopia, and Ed Finn, the Director of the Center for Science and Imagination at Arizona State University, to talk about how solarpunk can shape our understanding of climate change, social issues, and the future. They discuss the immense potential of storytelling in defining an achievable vision for a more sustainable world through a version of science fiction that offers a balance of realism and imagination. In fact, this imagination, Ulibarri and Finn argue, is one of our greatest tools; because issues such as climate change and various sociopolitical concepts have many solutions, applied imagination can help us explore the wide variety of potential solutions as an alternative to fatalism or denial. They also touch upon the unique optimism of solarpunk, particularly in how proposing a better future through the lens of fiction has the ability to excite and invigorate readers towards enacting change. They note that people’s innate desire to feel good means that we must create a new language for debating the immense changes coming our way. This kind of optimism might be niche now, but Solarpunk literature and culture models alternatives and recruits people who actively work to achieve them. 

A full transcript of this episode will be available soon!

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Some of Ullibarri’s works:
Glass and Gardens
Adventures in Zookeeping

Organizations, programs, and foundations mentioned:
World Weaver Press (Ulibarri is Editor-in-Chief)

Center for Science and Imagination at Arizona State University (Finn is Director) Projects include:
Future Tense, a collaboration between ASU, New America, and Slate magazine
Luna City
The Weight of Light
Cities of Light

The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop
Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Media mentioned:
Solarpunk Chobani commercial

Authors mentioned:
Jeff VanderMeer
Marian Womack, author of The Swimmers
Neal Stephenson, author of “Innovation Starvation”
Margaret Atwood
Kim Stanley Robinson, author of ”The Coronavirus and Our Future”
Raymond Williams
Francesco Verso

For more on Solarpunk:
Imaginary Worlds Podcast: “Solarpunk the Future”

Trajectory of “Punk” artistic movements:
Punk Rock

Check these past episodes we referenced:
Episode 45: “Radicalized” with Cory Doctorow
Episode 64: Japanese Science Fiction with William O. Gardner
Episode 65: Design Fiction and the Pandemic with Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tešanović
Episode 66: The Legacy of Octavia E. Butler with Damian E. Duffy, John Jennings, and Shelley Streeby
Episode 36: Korean Science Fiction: Imagining other worlds

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry, Colin and the How Do You Like It So Far? account! You can also email us at [email protected].

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