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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Ursula Heise argues in “Martian Ecologies and the Future of Nature,” that Mars in science fiction should be read as “a thought experiment ultimately meant to be bent back onto Earth itself” (2011: 465), but this same perspective is useful in considering the colonization and terraforming of planets and other extraterrestrial bodies more generally. However, as a “thought experiment,” terraforming in science fiction frequently seems to be a biopolitical and technopolitical way of conceptualizing and responding to the anxieties induced by climate change in ways that broadly displace climate anxiety onto other, non-Earth planets and allow for the sense that these anxieties are at once remote and solvable. These logics, which draw from myths of American colonialism and the “western frontier,” respond to an increasing sense of fragility on Earth by imagining that, through technological intervention and expansion, the root causes of climate change do not actually need to be addressed because we can simply offset damage to the Earth through the acquisition and transformation of new planets/moons/asteroids. In my research I will examine space colonization narratives, with an emphasis on terraforming, in order to explore how these logics develop, what underlying cultural logics they speak to, and what impact they have on how climate change is understood and addressed. I will do this by examining primary texts such as Robert Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky and conduct a review of secondary/theoretical materials in order to analyze these texts and explore the way in which these fictions are informed by and inform material realities.

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