13 Dec

HOPEPUNK? WTF is that?

Yeah, that’s what I thought when I stumbled across the term the other day.  I am no literary scholar, but I figured this much out without having to Google it: following on cyberpunk and steampunk, it’s a sub genre of sci-fi, and works labeled as such  must instill hope.

The term was coined in 2017, in response to Trump taking up residence in the White House. From what I gather, my new book, THE RIFF N RAFF REBELLIONS VOL 1. can rightly be labelled hopepunk.


I started writing my book in 2010, as I watched the ignition of the Arab Spring .


Interestingly, there would be no Trump presidency if not for the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring begat Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street was a miracle of sorts. There’s no way a small mob of stinky hippies pitching tents on a green space in the epicenter of crony capitalism should have caught fire the way it did. No way it would have happened when I was protesting everything (I hasten to point out that  I was never a stinky hippie!).

Marx said that two things are needed for a revolution: the objective conditions,


and the subjective readiness.


These must exist at the same time.

Any wannabe revolutionary will tell you that the objective conditions are always there. The subjective readiness is a little harder to figure out. If you give ’em an inch, they will take a mile, but how many miles will they take before people say NO MORE?

The subjective readiness was there in the early autumn of 2011 when the Arab-Spring-inspired Occupy movement started. The Mairkan public had been raped by Wall Street (2008 super nova of Fanny May and Freddie Mac. Obama fueled the fire by bailing out the banks, who fueled it even more big handing out bonuses to their execs; they didn’t just fiddle while Rome burned, they partied hard. That’s why Occupy exploded.


That, and the fact that we are no longer solely dependent on mainstream media for our news of the world.

Occupy got so much traction that the mainstream media could not ignore it. Occupy woke Trump’s core, the trampled-undefoot victims of globalization. They started looking for a champion. Call Trump an idiot all you want, but my bet is that he was fully aware of the gift presented to him by Occupy, and jumped on it.

Bernie Sanders’ core was also woke by Occupy. But Sanders is a socialist, which is the same thing as a dirty, Godless communist to most Mairkans, especially those who lived through the Cold War


And he’s a Jew, to boot (and, let’s face it, many Mairkans would love to boot a Jew, or two). So, Sanders was unpalatable to Trump’s people.

A Trump vs Sanders battle for the White House would have been far more fascinating than Trump vs Hillary. But without the Arab Spring, and subsequently Occupy, it would have been Jeb (EMPEROR BUSH III) vs Mrs. Clinton.

Clash of the empires, but prima facie meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

But that’s not how it went down, as we all know. What started when a kid in Tunisia got so fed up with the constant bullshit of the authorities that he burned himself to death in the streets lead to Trump’s victory march to DC. The Butterfly Effect writ large in the Age of the Internet.


The Law of Unintended Consequences. It’s a strange, strange world we live in, n’est-ce pas?

And now a new age stands ready to be born into the lit world. Hopepunk is, or can be, a ripple in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Four years before the term hopepunk was coined, Muhammad Yunus (2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner) called on the writers of the world to do our part in making a better world.

Yunus’ contention is that we create the societies we IMAGINE. Take a look at the major sci-fi works of the 20th century and tell me he is wrong.

dystopian book matrix

The creators of those works cannot be blamed for the fact that we have built the world they imagined. As some clever someone quipped, 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual.

If we IMAGINE the world we want, we will build it. That’s the hope of hopepunk. That’s our new job.

And hopepunk may be the hope of the lit biz, which is dying in a world where new generations don’t read books anymore. What the scions of the lit biz have to understand is that hopepunk can be a monster, which can not only bring new generations back to books, but help build a better world.

Those scions need to understand that they cannot dictate what hopepunk is. Hopepunk need not  be all Pollyanna. There can be some snarl to it (it is called hopePUNK, after all). Leaving contentious, inflammatory works out in the cold may well result in the promising genre being dismissed as little more than Sunday school sermonizing, albeit without having to run the risk of kids being molested by religious perverts (and please, let’s not pretend religious perverts don’t exist, for gawd’s sake).

In order to make the lit biz big wigs understand the point, I cede the floor to Ray Bradbury’s response to news that his classic, Fahrenheit 451, had been censored, little by little, with each new edition that had been printed:

“The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/ Republican, Mattachine/ Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme”

full quote here


Bradbury is vomiting in his grave every time he thinks of “sensitivity editors”, as well he should be.

As much as I believe that there is hope in hopepunk, I don’t really think the scions of the lit biz are gonna get it, let alone embrace it. If they take a fancy to it, they will try to neuter it. Still, we can hope. Strangers things have happened, right?


Or, we can get the job done without the lit biz. Occupy didn’t need mainstream media. We now have the tech to skate around the big lit biz people. And we can do it. Stranger things have happened, right?




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