Multispecies Cities – Solarpunk Urban Futures Anthology

Multispecies Cities – Solarpunk Urban Futures by Edited by Christoph Rupprecht, Deborah Cleland, Norie Tamura, Rajat Chaudhuri, and Sarena Ulibarri
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Cities are alive, shared by humans and animals, insects and plants, landforms and machines. What might city ecosystems look like in the future if we strive for multispecies justice in our urban settings? In these more-than-human stories, twenty-four authors investigate humanity’s relationship with the rest of the natural world, placing characters in situations where humans have to look beyond their own needs and interests. A quirky eco-businessman sees broader applications for a high school science fair project. A bad date in Hawai’i takes an unexpected turn when the couple stumbles upon some confused sea turtle hatchlings. A genetically-enhanced supersoldier struggles to find new purpose in a peaceful Tokyo. A community service punishment in Singapore leads to unexpected friendships across age and species. A boy and a mammoth trek across Asia in search of kin. A Tamil child learns the language of the stars. Set primarily in the Asia-Pacific, these stories engage with the serious issues of justice, inclusion, and sustainability that affect the region, while offering optimistic visions of tomorrow’s urban spaces.

Who says that cities can’t teem with biodiversity?
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Efe had spent her entire life on a small boat in the ocean in “Old Man’s Sea.” While diving for food and supplies, she was surprised by one of the many dangers that awaited anyone who wandered into the wrong territory. I was mesmerized by her resourcefulness and smiled at each plot twist. While I learned enough about her life to put all of the pieces together, this was definitely a world I’d love to revisit in a sequel someday. There were so many layers to life in this version of the future that could be explored in much greater detail, especially when it came to the identity of the old man referenced in the title.

Some of the stories in this anthology would have benefitted from more development in my opinion, and “The Exuberant Vitality of Hatchling Habitats”was one of them. It followed Xueli and Camila as they worked on a biodegradable sculpture for a school project. I was intrigued by their reasons for creating it but wished the narrator had gone into more detail about how it worked and why this art display attracted so much attention from outsiders. The entire concept never quite gelled together for me.

In “A Life with Cibi,” the narrator described what it was like when humanity invented a new mobile food source that was mobile and could speak but had more in common with plants than animals. I was fascinated by the idea off walking up to a Cibus and asking to slice off a part of its body for my lunch. These creatures were engineered in such a way that they were healthier if humans pruned them regularly. The narrator gave a tantalizing glimpse of how human culture changed as a result of this invention. It was a great deal of fun to follow those thought processes to their logical conclusions and wonder what else this society might come up with next.

Multispecies Cities – Solarpunk Urban Futures was an eclectic and creative anthology that I’d recommend to anyone who loves the science fiction genre in general.

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