Hopepunk and Futures of Hard Work

We need all sorts of stories, but we have a special need for hopepunk right now, because, in many people’s lived experience, this is one of those false-utopias which seemed great but has had its unforgivable underbelly exposed

Rowland coined hopepunk in July 2017 as the “opposite of grimdark.” Associated terms such as noblebright, solarpunk, greenpunk, or ecotopia join hopepunk to sketch out a body of imagined worlds which are positive but not utopias, because their positivity lies, not in the world already being excellent, but in the world moving toward the better thanks to the efforts of excellent people who work to make a difference. It is a subgenre tied to resistance: as Rowland put it punk = “fight the man” + hope = “we deserve a better world”. Hopepunk stories tend to showcase cooperation, collective action, resilience, partial victories as the world is moved toward, not to, a better state, ending with (re)construction underway and the world changing, not changed. The subgenre has also been described as weaponized optimism, and as rising from a culture of resistance, specifically anti-authoritarian resistance which swelled around the globe in the wake of 2016, connected with what Malka Older has called speculative resistance, the use of fictional worlds to encourage resistance by showing alternatives to the systems we have now (see podcast discussion).

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