Engineering Others, Engineering Ourselves:

Patrick Dennis Murphy


The concept of terraforming, the engineered transformation of alien planets into habitats suitable for human settlement, has taken on new meaning in science fiction and contemporary culture as climate change has indicated that human beings are currently transforming this planet but without a clear plan for sustaining inhabitability. Literary depictions by Kim Stanley Robinson of both climate change and terraforming raise ethical questions about the engineering of this and other planets, while the science fiction novels of Joan Slonczewski raise ethical questions about engineering human beings to adapt to alien environments. Together, they provide ways of thinking about the intertwined ethical questions of engineering the biosphere and engineering the species in the context of human and environmental sustainability. In particular, some works, such as the novels of Karen Traviss, raise the issue of how much the human species might have to engineer itself to pay the price of its unplanned engineering of planet Earth.


terraofrming, science fiction, climate change

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@Journal of Ecocriticism. ISSN 1916-1549