Why Solarpunk, Not Cyberpunk, Is the Future We Need Right Now

You don’t need to be stoned in a dorm room to imagine a brighter future

Pat Riley
Published in
7 min readApr 16, 2020


Artwork by Thomas Chamberlain — Keen
Illustration: Thomas Chamberlain-Keen

It should be no surprise that I’m obsessed with science fiction. Considering that I’m both a graphic designer and work in cryptocurrency, it’s practically required that I pay homage to the neon-soaked aesthetics of Blade Runner 2049, have a secret crush on Ava from Ex Machina, and geek out over pretty much anything Neal Stephenson puts out.

However, with a once-theoretical dystopia now apparently on our doorstep, we should be considering the trajectory of our civilization now more than ever. Suddenly, the megacorps, oppressive regimes, and looming global crises don’t seem so distant anymore.

Our favorite works of science fiction are now becoming realities that are impacting our daily lives.

And here we are, wrestling with the implications of our new reality staring into our screens and trapped inside our homes like the characters in Ready Player One.

Still from “The Music Scene” by Blockhead

Recent events have put us at a bit of a crossroads. We have an opportunity in front of us to continue down this path, or use this crisis as a wake-up call to pivot our future toward a world that is more equitable, safe, and empowering for all. We are the heroes of our own journey right now.

And while the news might inform us, it’s our fiction that inspires us to imagine what is possible.

Our worldview and idea of what is possible are largely shaped by the media we consume. You are what you eat after all. And while the news might inform us, it’s our fiction that inspires us to imagine what is possible. Science fiction has always asked the big questions, while simultaneously preparing us for what may be around the corner.

Where are we heading?

What problems might we create for ourselves?

And waitweren’t we promised flying cars?



Pat Riley

Designing for a Decentralized Future // Creative Director & Designer at BTC Inc // riley.io