I've been looking for speculative optimism reading material for quite some while, and found some stuff but not yet exactly what I want. This year must be an all-time market opportunity for an uplifting near-future story, where humankind finds a way to live comfortably and somewhat pleasantly within the confines of planetary boundaries. 

So far the best contender for this prize ("Auroora Lamminlaine Recognition Award for a Plausible Story Where Everything Does Not Go to Hell in a Handbasket") has been L.X.Beckett's Gamechanger (2019). It takes into account that it's not going to be easy and effortless to change our society and infrastructure into something sustainable. It's got detailed worldbuilding, including extrapolating gig economy and digitalisation. And yes, I've been asking why games are so rarely featured in SF stories, when they are such a large part of our world today. But it's got some issues too. First, I found out I can't stand hashtags in literary text. It's like little coctail sticks poking my eyeballs on every page. #justno. Secondly, there is a major "stop the press" plot thing that should change everyone's worldview, and ... nobody seems to care much. No-one is really interested in this mind-blowing thing. This makes it hard for me to understand the characters or anyone in the book. Admittedly there is a lot going on, but still. I mean, well, I don't even know if anyone's reading these ramblings, but just in case, stop reading now if you don't want spoilers, but aliens. You can't have first contact and then just be like it's an event just on the same level of importance as a regular all-human conspiracy. At least one character must be absolutely awestruck and abandon everything they are doing to start speculating about life in the Universe. If you want to win the Auroora Lamminlaine Recognition Award, that is. I hope this author keeps writing more, going to follow them, just wish they abandon the hashtags. 

There are a couple of solarpunk anthologies I've borrowed from library and am still reading, they are of uneven quality - some of the stories are quite simple formula of not-very-plausible green tech thing that saved us from catastrophe + young person finding their way in life, which leaves me unsatisfied. The best ones seem to either be more evocative, mood-based, poetic things or then something like a detective story set in an acceptably hopeful future. 

Other than literature, I actually enjoy speculative (green) architecture a lot. All these concept illustrations of skyscrapers dripping with green! They of course don't need to build a coherent explanation why this all works and how's democracy and where's the energy coming from etc. But on the up side, some of those concepts have been actually turned into reality. Just google Verde 25 Torino. That looks like a movie set but is really there. Someone is living within those green and rust walls. (I wonder who takes care of the plants? Is there a building gardener? Do the inhabitants take turns clipping and fertilising?) Perhaps we need to take the aesthetics route and build from there. 


EDIT: Writing this post in a beautiful non-commercial space with actual trees inside (Oodi library in Helsinki), where I had arrived on my rusty but trusty bicycle, after eating a subsidized vegan lunch, makes me quite hard to satisfy as far as utopias go. I think I live a fairly utopian life, only too bad the energy and resource underpinnings of our society are not long-term sustainable. I haven't been able to find even professional future scenarios about how a sustainable lifestyle is actually goign to look. Is it just so hard to envision, or is it actually impossible?