Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World

Edited by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, trans. from the Portuguese by Fábio Fernandes. World Weaver, $14.95 trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-0-9987022-9-2
In a dark departure from the usual uplifting themes of the ecopunk genre, this Brazilian collection’s speculative exploration of technological primacy is anything but cheerful. Some of these awkward narratives are rife with translation errors and overburdened by their own ambition, sacrificing pacing and plot for forced exposition and abrupt but predictable twist endings. Telmo Marçal’s “When Kingdoms Collide,” Gabriel Cantareira’s “Escape,” and Carlos Orsi’s “Soylent Green Is People!” craft glossy utopian veneers that are pulled back to reveal ugliness beneath. Three are alternate histories: André S. Silva’s “Xibalba Dreams of the West” imagines a Brazil that was never colonized, Antonio Luiz M. Costa’s “Once Upon a Time in the World” is set in a retro-futuristic version of 1929, and Daniel I. Dutra’s “Gary Johnson” echoes gruesome and dehumanizing scientific experimentation on African-Americans in the early 20th century. Lodi-Ribeiro’s action-packed but emotionally anemic “Cobalt Blue and the Enigma” feels out of step with the rest of the collection, especially when compared to Roberta Spindler’s thoughtful and bittersweet standout “Sun in the Heart.” Though the goal of bringing Brazilian science fiction to Anglophone audiences is laudable, this anthology is a weak introduction. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2018
Release date: 07/24/2018
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