Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters edited by Sarena Ulibarri

Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters edited by Sarena Ulibarri
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (324 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

This anthology envisions winters of the future, with stories of scientists working together to protect narwhals from an oil spill, to bring snow back to the mountains of Maine, to preserve ecosystems—even if they have to be under glass domes. They’re stories of regular people rising to extraordinary circumstances to survive extreme winter weather, to fix a threat to their community’s energy source, to save a living city from a deep-rooted sickness. Some take place after an environmental catastrophe, with luxury resorts and military bases and mafia strongholds transformed into sustainable communes; others rethink the way we could organize cities, using skybridges and seascrapers and constructed islands to adapt to the changes of the Anthropocene. Even when the nights are long, the future is bright in these seventeen diverse tales.

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Athena and the other characters in “A Shawl for Janice” left their EcoTower to do a bird count in nearby forests and meadows that had sprung up from the ruins of small towns after the Change. Ms. Almazan did a wonderful job with her world building here. I truly felt like I’d been transported to the future, especially once Athena’s reasons for volunteering for this bird count were revealed. There was so much character development in those plots twists that I wished I could remain with Athena to see what she did with her life next.

While I enjoyed every story in this anthology, there were a few of them that I thought would have benefited from including more details about the worlds they were set in. “Snow Globe” was one example of this. It followed Okwi Bearheart, a park ranger who was struggling to connect with the citizens of Windigo. When a violent conflict threatened the safety of some of people who lived in that community, she had to act fast to try to help them. There was a lot going on in this plot, but the narrator didn’t give me enough details about any of it to draw me into what was happening. It would have been nice to get to know the characters better so I could have been more concerned about their fates.

“Recovering the Lost Art of Cuddling” followed Katie on a last-minute run she did to repair a neighbor’s composter before a dangerous blizzard hit their community. When the storm amped up and her journey didn’t go as anticipated, she had to figure out how to get herself and her sled dogs to safety before they froze to death. I was eager to learn if these characters would be okay. They were so endearing and well written that I couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to any of them. Their adventures were exciting from beginning to end.

I’d especially recommend Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters to anyone who wonders what the future might hold for humanity.

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