In the last couple of years, organizations and companies have begun to view science fiction in ways that go beyond mere entertainment, and writers and thinkers point out that gender stories can be used as a practical tool to imagine futures. optimistic. One such organization is Arizona State University, which recently released an anthology that envisioned the future of solar energy.
The weight of light: a collection of solar futures is about “exploring solar-powered human futures,” and is part of a larger publishing program of the University’s Center for Science and Imagination, which has published similar anthologies on optimistic futures in space and climate change since 2011. The weight of light it can be downloaded for free in ePub, HTML, iBook and Mobi formats from the Center’s site.
In the introduction, publisher Joey Eschrich says the book was “inspired by a simple question: What would a completely solar-powered world look like?” With that question in mind, the Center organized a hackathon narrative in April 2018, and featured alongside authors, artists and various experts to “create technically grounded and inspiring visions of a future shaped by a transition to abundant and clean solar energy.”
After the event, each team continued to work on their respective projects, ultimately resulting in the anthology, which features stories from a variety of science fiction authors: Brenda Cooper, Andrew Dana Hudson, Cat Rambo, and Corey S. Pressman. The four stories envision how everything from big cities to small rural communities can deal with solar power in the future, and are accompanied by illustrations and a couple of essays that delve into the design of the world the authors described.
Taken together, the stories are a good example of this style of applied science fiction, which takes a complicated or technical subject and distills the basics in a format that allows the casual reader to enjoy and connect. At the very least, it’s a good book to check out over the weekend.