GLASS AND GARDENS: SOLARPUNK WINTERS
Edited by Sarena Ulibarri
World Weaver Press (2020)
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (05/20)
“Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters” is a collection of solarpunk short stories set in a brutal futuristic winter, born through rampant and out of control climate change. The selection of stories included in this anthology provide an optimistic glimpse into a future where humanity works together to rebuild civilization and tackle new problems that have arisen because of a new, harsher winter.
Each story brings something unique to the “Glass and Gardens” collection. Every author provides a different perspective on a wide variety of both current, real world problems, and future disasters that could be brought on by climate change.
“Glass and Gardens” is full optimism; that is the most striking aspect of this anthology. Despite the dramatic changes the Earth has undergone in these futures, the authors choose not to focus on doom and catastrophe. Instead, they explore the ingenuity of humanity when facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Rather than succumb and despair, their characters find courage and tackle their new obstacles using science and creativity.
Some of the characters in these stories survived the dramatic changes Earth has undergone because of climate change, while others were born into the new world and have known nothing else. While they all provide interesting takes on the future, many of them also provide compelling truths about problems that affect people in the modern-day world. For example, one of the early stories in this anthology, “A Shawl for Janice” by Sandra Ulbrich Almazon, follows a narrator wrestling with the transphobia of the past as she tries to fulfill a promise in the future.
Characters sometimes get lost in science fiction stories. The focus is on the science, rather than on the people performing it. That is not the case here. Science is certainly a huge part of this anthology, but at their cores, all of these stories are about people. In “Orchidaceae” by Thomas Badlan, the audience feels Joenia’s anger as she fights to continue her work and witnesses people making the same mistakes that led to her story’s climate disaster.
Other stories, such as Catherine F. King’s “On the Contrary, Yes” highlight the need and appreciation of the arts during times that are dominated by the sciences. The result is an engaging group of character-driven stories against the backdrop of a futuristic solarpunk winter.
“Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters” is a book for people of all ages with something for everyone to enjoy. With its wildly diverse set of narrators and different imaginings of a frozen future, science fiction fans and readers new to the genre will both get lost exploring the worlds presented inside. This anthology gives readers a small taste of the work by almost twenty talented authors, all providing an optimistic view of a potential catastrophe.