Edited by Sarena Ulibarri
World Weaver Press (2018)
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (5/18)
“Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers” is a collection of seventeen short science fiction stories that center around the future of renewable energy.
With global warming becoming an increasing problem for Earth, clean energy is a solution that needs to be pushed. This anthology’s authors explore not just solar energy as stated in the title, but hydro and wind power as well. While some stories dive deeper into the science than others do, each is just as accessible to a wide range of audiences. Every reader will come away having learned something new and a hunger to know more.
One of the easiest ways to explain a debated topic like clean energy is through fiction. Sometimes a person needs to step outside of their own life and observe one that is drastically different. Stories like Blake Jessop’s “New Siberia” shows readers Earth’s future generations forced to flee to another planet because their ancestors destroyed Earth. “It is hard to admit you’ve killed a planet… The shame erodes, even if it was your ancestors who did the damage, who taxed you without your consent and brought you into their collapsing biosphere to die” (Jessop 151). People today must be conscious of the problems they’re creating for their descendants.
Of all the stories in this anthology, my favorite by far is “The Heavenly Dreams of Mechanical Trees” by Wendy Nikel. In this story, trees have died out and been replaced with forests of machines. It provides a scary future in which humans rely on technology to produce a necessity like oxygen for them. The mechanical trees require much maintenance and are far more difficult to handle than the natural plants humanity destroyed. Nikel does a phenomenal job of crafting this scary world.
Not all these stories are so dark. Sam S. Kepfield’s “Amber Waves” paints a picture of a farm run by robotic harvesters and self-operated grain trucks through solar energy. Clean energy is not only efficient but can drastically improve productivity and create a higher standard of living. This is yet another important message for readers who may be skeptical on the merits of solar power.
I came away from this anthology with two points: clean energy is a far healthier alternative to fossil fuels, and it is far too easy for humans to destroy a planet. Both are important for their own reasons. “Glass and Gardens” edited by Sarena Ulibarri piqued my curiosity on global warming and climate change, inciting me into some research of my own. That’s the mark of a good book if I’ve ever seen one.