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Local author launches solarpunk novella at Lycoming College

Local author launches solarpunk novella at Lycoming College

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Phoebe Wagner, Ph.D., Lycoming College assistant professor of English, is releasing her debut novella. Titled “When We Hold Each Other Up: A Solarpunk Novella,” the book mixes the sci-fi, fantasy, and solarpunk genres. It is being published by Android Press, and comes out on Tuesday, April 18.

The Publishers Weekly review describes the book as “a valiant attempt at imagining a future beyond capitalism and environmental collapse” in Wagner’s “intelligent debut.” It praises the worldbuilding, and says that “Wagner’s fresh take on climate fiction offers both insight and entertainment,” citing that the novella shows “plenty of promise.”

“When We Hold Each Other Up: A Solarpunk Novella” is set in a post-climate-apocalypse world, and follows the story of Rowan, a young storyteller who strives to live in unity with the natural world. That world, however, is ruled over by magical beings called Harmonizers, and though they claim to want to restore balance to nature, they seem intent only on expanding their power. One day, a rogue Harmonizer named Eduardo appears and warns Rowan that the nearby Haven City is expanding and putting the natural world of Rowan’s home at risk. Together, they set out to warn other naturalists of the dangers of the growing city, all the while collecting others’ stories and facing the harm buried in their own pasts.

Beyond teaching, Wagner is an author and editor with a focus on the intersection of speculative fiction and climate change. She regularly publishes short fiction, and is the editor of three solarpunk anthologies, including “Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation.” Her debut novel “A Shot of Gin” will release in October of this year, and is being published by Parliament House Press. It follows Juniper "Gin" Cain as she survives in a world of vampires and radiated zombies while she struggles with a power she didn’t know she had.

“While I'm primarily known as an editor in the solarpunk subgenre, I feel it is just as important for me to write solarpunk stories to help address some of the gaps or holes I see in the growing genre,” said Wagner. “For instance, I'm always asked where's the "punk" in solarpunk, and I purposefully included skateboarding, mutual aid projects, and anti-establishment themes throughout the book in response.”

On the same day as the novella’s release, Wagner will be holding a book reading and signing in the Humanities Research Center, in the Academic Center on the Lycoming College campus. The event will begin at 4 p.m. and will be free and open to the public.

Whether English majors focus on literature or creative writing, their experience in many ways embody a union of writing and pleasure. The Lycoming English department is a tight-knit literary community where students marry their passions for writing and reading with their natural curiosity about the world around them. To learn more about the English and creative writing program at Lycoming College, visit: