Guest Blog by Shel Graves
When World Weaver Press announced the table of contents for Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters, I wrote about some of my inspirations for "Set the Ice Free" on my blog. These included:
Read more about those here.
However, there were also scientific inspirations powering my optimistic science fiction story. I read about:
· Bioluminescence — I asked, "What if we could capture the energy in the light inside living things?" and learned that we've started to do that: "Nanotechnology Used to Harness Power of Fireflies," Science Daily, June 15, 2012 via Syracuse University.
· Kinetic energy and piezoelectricity -- I asked, "What if we could capture the energy of falling raindrops." and learned we're starting to do that: "Harvesting Raindrop Energy Experimental Study," Smart Materials and Structures, Vol. 17 via IopScience. My Solarpunk Summers story "Watch Out, Red Crusher!" has piezoelectric walkways, too.
· Perovskite solar cells— In this case, my motivation was artsy. My color palette for this story was black, red, and gold and I wanted a matching energy source. My friend who works in solar pointed me to perovskite solar cells, an innovation gaining popularity due to their efficiency. More via energy.gov.
From these explorations, I imagined more. My favorite ideas in "Set the Ice Free":
· Clothing powered by kinetic energy. Imagine wearing thin clothing that heats as you move. As a person who works outdoors at a farm sanctuary, I loved the idea of thin, flexible gloves that warm your hands when you clap. I hope someone is working on making these!
· A culture of making energy. In my story, it's a cultural norm and societal expectation that everyone will create energy where possible (not just conserve it). It's rude not to carry an umbrella to capture the power of raindrops because even if you don't need the energy created someone else might.
· A free flowing power-generating waterfall (no dams!). The waterfall in "Set the Ice Free" generates additional energy by churning bioluminescent algae and falling on strategically placed drums. It's beauty and power. I live in Washington State, which is the nation's top producer of hydroelectric power. But the four dams on the lower Snake River are decimating salmon runs and contributing to the starvation of our resident orca (who feed primarily on Chinook Salmon). So I imagined a powerful waterfall without dams and, again, a cultural component of a ritual of power-gathering that brings the community together.
I love that World Weaver Press highlighted this quote from Set the Ice Free, "In her mind where she was free to imagine as her heart desired, space was filled with golden sails, balmy as the drowned islands of Nana's old Earth."
This is me saying that fiction is just that and solarpunk (emphasis on the punk here) writers and readers don't want science and realism to create walls, borders, and barriers as to what's possible in our fiction — just as we don't want the current reality to determine our future.
We're learning more about our world and its possibilities all the time and can be in a state of exploration and innovation. We can be inspired by what we are learning and, in turn, our imaginations can inspire exploration and change.
Our energy for discovery is renewable. That's solarpunk!
Shel Graves is a reader, writer, and utopian by the Salish Sea. She works at Pasado's Safe Haven on a mission to end animal cruelty. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. She's at shelgraves.blogspot.com, @Utopianista on Twitter, and @Sheltopia on Instagram.
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.