Kars's Reviews > Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation

Sunvault by Phoebe Wagner
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bookshelves: fiction, sci-fi, beyond-sci-fi

As with almost any collection of short stories, the mix here is uneven. The balance is still positive but only just, often the writing is somewhat amateurish. But I can forgive that.

The biggest issue I have with many of the stories is that they fail as "eco-speculation" on the political front. Most stick to a broadly liberal world view and many depict climate catastrophe as the consequences of individual moral failings. The benchmark for this kind of fiction for me is still KSR and what sets him apart is his willingness to speculate about alternative economic, political and social arrangements. For most of the authors here, that appears to have been too tall an order.

A few of the stories herein are quite affecting and sometimes even haunting, though. For that, I would still recommend this. Below is a list of those recommended stories:

* C. Samuel Rees, “Teratology” – somewhat reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy in its bleakness
* Santiago Belluco, “The Death of Pax” – imaginative treatment of kaiju as the future of humanity
* Lev Mirov, “The Desert, Blooming” – nice vignette of eco-reconstruction in action
* Jess Barber, “You and Me and the Deep Dark Sea” – I'll forgive this its hamfisted sexual politics virtue-signalling because it is still a successful depiction of people rebuilding a life in post-flood rubble
* Nisi Shawl, “The Colors of Money” – humorous, and the closest of all the stories to something depicting an alternative socio-political order, somewhat Le Guin-like in its feminism, exploring the never-ending struggle over fossil fuel
* A.C. Wise, “A Catalogue of Sunlight at the End of the World” – a twist on the well-worn generation ship trope, asking what it would be like to stay behind when the rest of humanity leaves a dying planet earth for better climes
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Reading Progress

September 18, 2018 – Started Reading
September 18, 2018 – Shelved
September 21, 2018 –
19.0%
September 25, 2018 –
38.0%
October 7, 2018 –
81.0%
October 13, 2018 – Finished Reading
October 15, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction
October 15, 2018 – Shelved as: sci-fi
October 24, 2018 – Shelved as: beyond-sci-fi

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