Un-earthed: Terraforming Fictions

Un-earthed's first reading group session of the fall semester, on the topic of terraforming. 

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Conjurer of seasonal shitstorms, Elon Musk riled up the tempers of Twitter in 2019 when he proposed to “Nuke Mars!” The outburst of the entrepreneur in both space and green technology testifies to the contemporary discourse around the theme of terraforming, characterized by desire, science, and fiction. What the term terraforming offers that concepts such as geoengineering and climate change do not is a “constitutive role for the fantastic and the fictional in a time when any cultural or political event can be read in terms of its possible effect on the earth system” (Karen Pinkus and Derek Woods). But what exactly is terraforming? When are we terraforming? Is it scientific, fictional—or both? What is its origin? Why does terraforming become more plausible as alarm rises? Why does it so often serve as a narrative motor?

We will discuss these and related questions by drawing on Chris Pak’s recent book on terraforming while keeping in mind the foreword by Woods and Pinkus in their special issue on terraforming in Diacritics. An excerpt from the story The Purchase of the North Pole by sci-fi pioneer Jules Verne and the short essay “Terraforming Earth” by contemporary Kim Stanley Robinson will serve as examples of how writers deal with the idea of terraforming.

To download the readings, go to www.un-earthed.group


Tags: reading group, literature, terraforming, geoengineering, fiction
Published Aug. 22, 2022 2:47 PM - Last modified Aug. 22, 2022 2:53 PM