As the Metaverse and AR become firmly established, human creativity will be unleashed on a level never seen before. Solarpunk is a positive vision of the future, grounded in our existing world, emphasizing the need for sustainability, self-governance, and social justice. This is the world Matterless intends to help build.
High Tech, Low-Life
I’ve loved cyberpunk since I was old enough to pop Blade Runner or Tron into the VHS. Chrome and neon, a digital void full of possibilities, dark skies and darker plots painted a future so vivid and different from what I could see outside my window.
In 2012, when I heard CD Projekt Red was working on Cyberpunk 2077 I was incredibly excited. Seven LONG years later, it had finally arrived. I was ready to serve justice to some corpo-rats on the tip of my thermal katana. And yet… As I played through the game, I realized — I didn’t like it.
While the sub-optimal gameplay didn’t help, what hit me most was the now uncomfortable neon color palette, the tech-fueled consumerism, and the corporate oppression vibe. It was bringing me down.
The dystopian theme of cyberpunk is supposed to be a stark critique of corporations running rampant, and humanity becoming dehumanized one polished, cheap bionic implant at a time. However, the game itself (and the genre in general) ends up fetishizing a sleek metal aesthetic and implants as some kind of fanboy transhumanist wish-fulfillment trip.
Most importantly, the punk part got lost somewhere in the kitsch; all the punk genres have a strong political message. With steampunk, it’s a class struggle in a Victorian setting. Atompunk satirizes old government propaganda of safe and abundant nuclear energy. Cyberpunk imagines a society where hackers strengthen their limbs with carbon bones and mantis-like blades hidden inside seemingly normal-looking bodies — while buying spare parts on the cheap.
Like any genre that goes mainstream, cyberpunk is getting recycled. Its images are being polished, its motifs repeated until the original message disappears. And make no mistake, the ideas of those eighties sci-fi writers were clear — future shock is alienating, and the powerless can find strength by co-opting technology for their own ends. As far as speculative fiction goes, cyberpunk is a bummer.
I want a world where the future is not so bleak, and the corporate endgame does not spell doom for everyone. It is my deeply held belief that this vaporwave, digital void, eighties fashion-inspired, I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude is tedious, repetitive, and worst of all, limiting.
And yet, somehow, cyberpunk ended up becoming shorthand for the entire aesthetic of the Metaverse.
Lost in the endless, flickering neon of Night City, polluted rain beating down on me, with none of its core messages to be found, I realized this world wasn't vivid at all. I quietly quit Cyberpunk 2077, the game, and the genre. If this is what represents the 3D internet of the future, I’d rather take a walk in the park instead.
Futurism Of Hope, Not Fear
Why is this so important?
Because art has a tremendous influence on us.
Storytelling shapes how we see the present and how we envision the future.
Art and stories shape our ideas of what we are, AND what we can become. In turn, the way we portray fictional futures creates an impact on current culture and our collective imagination. Pop culture is being constructed through this feedback loop.
If all we see is a bleak cyberpunk reality, and all its heroes are cynical lone wolves, it becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. It becomes the only way we know how to imagine the future. I believe there can be so much more.
So, if we’re to move away from that and forward, what direction should we go?
For that, let me ask you — do you wish you could help the world around you become less polluted? Do you want to create a kinder, more sustainable future?
If you do, then the answer is clear. You, dear reader, are like us. You are a solarpunk.
Eco-Centric, not Ego-Centric
Solarpunk is a growing genre of speculative fiction focusing on community and technology powered by renewable energy. It tells of a future grounded in our existing world, emphasizing the need for sustainability, self-governance, and social justice.
The “solar” part is all about renewables; solar, wind, geothermal. The “punk” in solarpunk is about rebellion, innovation, open-source technology, and collective action.
Imagine a future where we are building tech ourselves, coexisting with animal companions, and growing gardens at the same time. Where we are manufacturing the future with a thoughtful craftsman’s touch.
This future starts here and now — and we are building it from and with nature — Solarpunk is a movement as much as it is a genre: it is not just about stories, it is also about how we can build it.
Post-apocalypse? No, Post-scarcity
Where cyberpunk explores a world of corporate greed running rampant and dehumanized society full of cheap bionic implants, solarpunk emphasizes the fulfillment of both nature and human communities, and collectives thriving in a mutually beneficial relationship with nature.
This is one of our guiding principles here at Matterless. We want to tell a transformative story. One of personal growth, supported by technology and care, blossoming into a shared social experience. One of rejecting unsustainable living.
If you look out the window and think to yourself, “It’s not green enough, I wish I could do something about that,” you are a solarpunk.
If you want to see animals treated more fairly, you are a solarpunk.
If you want to know your neighbors better, build something, and be a part of your local community, you are a solarpunk.
Ultimately, if you care about carbon neutrality, making nature net positive every year, then, you guessed it, you are a solarpunk.
So… now that you know what you are, what are you going to do about it?
-Damir First, Matterless Chief Evangelist