Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Is This Hopepunk?

My new novel is out today, and I think it’s best described as a dystopian murder mystery. But it’s awfully optimistic for a dystopian story, and as a mystery it’s sort of a hardboiled cozy. So I wonder if it, and maybe all my books, should be called ‘hopepunk’.

You may not have heard that term before, and it may sound nonsensical to your ears, since ‘punk’ tends to be associated with a rejection of the status quo, a radical rebellion against the prevailing culture. But these days, with all the gloom and fearmongering coming at us from every side, optimism and hope are very much ‘punk’.

It’s difficult to pin down exactly what it is, but whether you call it a new subgenre of SF or a wider movement, hopepunk was first identified as a reaction to ‘grimdark’, the popular fad in modern fiction for everything to be bleak, cynical, and depressing – taking the view that the world is cruel and corrupt and people are nasty and self-serving. But while hopepunk pushes back against that perspective, it’s not about a rosy, utopian view of human society. It acknowledges the reality of evil without dwelling on it.

Instead, hopepunk focuses on flawed heroes trying their best to do the right thing and help others however they can with a positive attitude. Understanding that they may not make much of a difference in the end, but acting on the belief that being loving, doing right, and fighting for truth are worthy pursuits in and of themselves. That if you can help one person have a brighter day today, you’ve accomplished something beautiful. And that if more of us tried a little harder to think of what’s good for others as much as ourselves, to make a little difference when and where we have the opportunity, maybe that would change the world.

So yes, my stories are certainly hopepunk.

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