Hopepunk: Articles, Resources and Recordings

Intrigued by hopepunk and want to explore further?

Alexandra Rowland’s essay One Atom of Justice, One Molecule of Mercy, and the Empire of Unsheathed Knives is the definitive starting point, expanding greatly on the original Tumblr post where she coined the term.  The essay is collected in The Stellar Beacon, our  semi-pro ‘zine supporting the Return to the Stars, a hopepunk space opera RPG.

But, in a short time, hopepunk has inspired a bunch of other commentary you can check out:

Articles and Essays

Vox, Aja Romano, 12/27/19 Hopepunk, the latest storytelling trend, is all about weaponized optimism this explainer,  while arguably smoothing off some of the sharp political edges from hopepunk, greatly increased the discourse about the topic.  It also has a great list of things to read and watch.  “Through this framing, the idea of choosing hope becomes both an existential act that affirms your humanity, and a form of resistance against cynical worldviews that dismiss hope as a powerful force for change.”

Wall Street Journal, Ellen Gamerman,  3/13/19 ‘Hopepunk’ and ‘Up Lit’ Help Readers Shake Off the Dystopian Blues is a good overview and provides the sort of interesting publishing industry data you’d expect from the business paper of record: “Demand for dystopian fiction aimed at young people, the category’s largest group of readers, fell in recent years. Print sales for young-adult dystopian novels declined to 850,000 last year from more than 5 million in 2014”

Washington Post, Charlie Jane Anders, 1/30/19  Kamala Harris is wrong about science fiction  An op ed in response to a call to act on “science fact, not science fiction.  “Fact-checking and spreading the truth are a never-ending battle of vital importance — but they’re not enough to inspire people to do the hard work of rescuing the future. And because science fiction is the literature of problem-solving, our made-up stories about science and innovation can play an important role in helping us to regain our faith in our own ability to create change ”

Yes!, Miles Schneiderman, 4/23/19 Inside Science Fiction’s Compassionate Revolution “I think that’s one of the reasons that hopepunk is something so many people are responding to with such hunger and eagerness, because this is the story that they’ve been lacking.”

Slate, Lee Konstantinou, 1/15/19 Something Is Broken in Our Science Fiction used sudden discussion about hopepunk as an excuse to talk about his hobby horse “absent the understanding that history isn’t made by individuals but by social movements and groups working in tandem” If he thinks the whole “protagonist” thing has been a bit of dead end since it was introduced Gilgamesh, he ought to whip up a serviceable replacement.

Cora Bulert 1/17/19  Science Fiction Is Dying Again – The Hopepunk Edition reacts to the Slate piece “But Lee Konstantinou’s problem isn’t so much with science fiction micro-genre nomenclatura, instead his main complaint is the old familiar stand-by, frequently skewered in these pages, that “other people are doing science fiction wrong”.  The author also notes that “Now it’s certainly possible to have issues with the proliferation of -punk suffix subgenre names, though that fight was lost ages ago. I keep a master list of punk suffix genres with explanations and examples on my PC that’s a whopping 24 pages long.” in an earlier essay that questions the stories that grimdark tells itself “Do you know what else is a middle class thing? Grimdark. Because some of the most eager fans of grimdark are/were young white men (and occasionally women and non-binary folk as well) from middle class backgrounds, in short the sort of people for whom the world was not very grim at all compared to more marginalized folks.”

Hopepunk even got coverage in America, the Jesuit Review (2/1/19 Jim McDermont): What is hopepunk and why is it so quintessentially Catholic?   “That is the point and opportunity of hopepunk: the Spirit does not follow the rules we set down. Grace rebels and God thrives not in some impossible sanctity but in the actual mess of our humanity.”

Radio Interviews and Podcasts

NPR 1A 12/10/18  Do Get Your Hopes Up…Rocking Out With Hope Punk

Our Opinions Are Correct podcast 1/3/19  Can science fiction still give us hope for the future?

Imagination Taking Power podcast 1/14/19    Alexandra Rowland on hopepunk, grimdark, story and imagination

CBC Tapestry 3/10/19   A guide to hopepunk: What to read, watch and listen to when all seems lost

Sprout growing out of concrete


Other Resources

Hopepunk is a one of Merriam-Webster’s  Words We’re Watching

Cat Rambo, the current president of SFWA shares “Hopepunk Thoughts Plus A Reading List” which includes list of upcoming works!

Comicosity Mexi Gremillion, 3/29/19 Comic Love: Introducing “Hopepunk” to the Comics Scene

Nikita Mor Being Soft Is Not A Weakness, It’s What Makes You Strong

Nebula Award Conference, Making hopeful art in hopeless times panel 5/17/18 livetweets

4th Street Fantasy, 2018   Grim Times, Bright Tidings panel  livetweets

“”The load-bearing part of the term [hopepunk] is ‘punk.'” Jennifer Mace

““I think an operational definition of ‘hopepunk’ would be ‘come back to Omelas with pitchforks and torches.’””

Polygon 11/23/18  10 great podcasts that are unabashedly positive

Rewire, Gretchen Brown, 2/20/19 4 Ways You Can Be More Hopepunk Today

This RPG net thread captures, riffing off of Alex’s original Tumblr post, contain a lot of early fun discussion about what fits into the catagory: Building a list of “HopePunk” storytelling

And there is an interesting metafilter discussion of Alex’s One knives essay.


Solarpunk is an important recent  SF precursor to hopepunk, and is worth knowing more about:



Strange Horizons Claudie Arsenault  4/23/18 CONSTRUCTING A KINDER FUTURE




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