Terraforming: Ecopolitical Transformations and Environmentalism in Science Fiction

Terraforming: Ecopolitical Transformations and Environmentalism in Science Fiction

By Chris Pak
Book Description

This book explores the emergence and development of terraforming in science fiction from H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898) to James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar (2009). Terraforming is the process of making other worlds habitable for human life. Its counterpart on Earth – geoengineering – has begun to receive serious consideration as a way to address the effects of climate change. This book asks how science fiction has imagined the ways we shape both our world and other planets and how stories of terraforming reflect on science, society and environmentalism. It traces the growth of the motif of terraforming in stories by such writers as H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon in the UK, American pulp science fiction by Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, the counter cultural novels of Frank Herbert, Ursula K. Le Guin and Ernest Callenbach, and Pamela Sargent’s Venus trilogy, Frederick Turner’s epic poem of terraforming, Genesis, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s acclaimed Mars trilogy. It explores terraforming as a nexus for environmental philosophy, the pastoral, ecology, the Gaia hypothesis, the politics of colonisation and habitation, tradition and memory. This book shows how contemporary environmental awareness and our understanding of climate change is influenced by science fiction, and how terraforming in particular has offered scientists, philosophers, and many other readers a motif to aid in thinking in complex ways about the human impact on planetary environments. Amidst contemporary anxieties about climate change, terraforming offers an important vantage from which to consider the ways humankind shapes and is shaped by their world.

Hardback edition available from Liverpool University Press.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Terraforming: Engineering Imaginary Environments
    • Shaping Earth and the Solar System
    • Sf as Environmental Literature
    • A Disciplined Thought Experiment: Landscaping, Sf, and Terraforming
    • The Lay of the Land
  • 1: Landscaping Nature’s Otherness in Pre-1960s Terraforming and Proto-Gaian Stories
    • Terraforming as a Site for Environmental Philosophical Reflection
      • The War on Nature in Wells’s The Shape of Things to Come and John Russell Fearn’s ‘Earth’s Mausoleum’
      • Nature’s Otherness and Terraforming in Stapledon’s Last and First Men and Star Maker
      • Deism and Teleology in Stapledon’s Essays of Myth Creation
    • Pre-1940s Proto-Gaian Living Worlds
      • Proto-Gaian Scientific Romance: M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘When the World Screamed’
      • The Pulp Sf Proto-Gaian Cluster
    • The Decline of the Living World Motif in 1950s American Pulp Sf
  • 2: The American Pastoral and the Conquest of Space
    • The Garden of the World in Early 1950s Terraforming Stories
    • The Burden of Hope in the Garden of the Chattel: 1950s Consensus Dystopias
    • Moral Extensionism in Terraforming Stories of the Late 1950s and Early 1960s
  • 3: Ecology and Environmental Awareness in 1960s–1970s Terraforming Stories
    • 1960s–1970s Proto-Gaian Living Worlds
      • Terragouging: Time and the Forest
    • Terraforming in the 1960s–1970s
      • Terraforming and Ecopolitics in the Dune Sequence
        • The Garden in Dune
      • Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
      • Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed
      • Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia
  • 4: Edging Towards an Eco-cosmopolitan Vision
    • Building Critical Spaces: Pamela Sargent’s Venus Trilogy
      • Domes on Venus: Chronotopes of Enclosure
      • The Pastoral in Pamela Sargent’s Venus Trilogy
    • Frederick Turner’s Genesis: An Epic Poem
  • 5: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy
    • Gardens on Mars
    • ‘Stepping Back’
    • Visions Reflected Back to Earth
    • Closed Life-Support Systems, Soil, and Cybernetics
    • Eco-Economics and the Landscape as Mirror
    • Science and Nature
    • On Martian Myths
  • Conclusion
    • Coda
  • Works Cited
    • Primary Works Cited
    • Secondary Works Cited
  • Index
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