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24.09, Bookshelf

Towards a Viable Planetarity: The Terraforming Reading List

As Strelka Institute launches a new three-year research cycle, the team behind The Terraforming recommends a selection of literature which might help you to better understand the context of the program.

Applications for the new program directed by design theorist Benjamin Bratton are being accepted until October 31. Find out more about The Terraforming here.

 

The Terraforming

By Benjamin Bratton

Benjamin Bratton’s latest book lays the groundwork for the upcoming research project at Strelka Institute. Based on theories of artificiality, astronomy, and automation, The Terraforming envisages a total transformation of the Earth’s cities, technologies, and ecosystems. In the face of potential planetary catastrophe in the post-Anthropocene, Bratton’s book outlines a planetary design initiative for the next century, in the hope of prolonging the possibility of life on Earth as we know it. We recently published an excerpt of the book, which you can read here.

 

Placing Outer Space

By Lisa Messeri

This ethnography by Lisa Messeri examines the ways in which planetary scientists, deprived of the ability to set foot on their objects of study, conceive of planets as tangible spaces. Placing Outer Space posits the idea that interplanetary study and exploration is motivated less by a fascination with the alien than with a desire for what she calls “planetary kin.” Through the exploration of a variety of scientific practices, Messeri suggests that “outer space is becoming outer place.”

 

After Geoengineering

By Holly Jean Buck

While climate engineering remains a dystopian project, geoengineering is increasingly appealing as a temporary fix. By examining the morality of geoengineering and the kind of social upheaval such a measure would demand, Holly Jean Buck imagines possible futures after geoengineering. After Geoengineering asks the question, “what if people seized the means of climate production?”

 

Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment

By El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn

Divided into three sections—terrarium, aquarium, and planetarium—Geostories is formed of a series of architectural projections, which together constitute a way of examining pressing socio-ecological issues. Geostories unites spatial history, geographic representation, projective design, and material public assemblies in a manifesto on the environmental imagination that questions how we can make sense of an Earth in crisis.

 

Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the post-Anthropocene (AD Issue)

Edited by Liam Young

Machine Landscapes considers the purpose and nature of architectural space after human-centred design. Since most significant architectural spaces in the world are now designed with machines rather than people in mind, Machine Landscapes studies the possibilities of architecture without people.

 

Inventing the Future

By Nick Srnicek + Alex Williams

Inventing the Future envisages a life after capitalism. Refuting fatalistic conceptions of our high-tech economy, Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek sketch a postcapitalist space in which we are liberated from work and our freedoms are expanded.

 

Red Moon

By Kim Stanley Robinson

This science fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson tells the story of Fred Fredericks, an American working for a Swiss tech company who is tasked with traveling to the moon to deliver a communications device to a Chinese colony. Charting parallel political instability both on Earth and on the moon, this novel is a fascinating projection of humanity’s lunar future.

 

A Geology of Media

By Jussi Parikka

In A Geology of Media, Jussi Parikka argues that in order to understand contemporary media culture, we must examine the material realities which precede the media themselves. By highlighting the ways in which modern technologies are dependent on Earth’s geological formations, minerals, and energy, Parikka convincingly debunks the myth that modern media exists independent of its environment.

 

Xenofeminism

By Helen Hester

Helen Hester’s Xenofeminism reimagines the emancipatory potential of feminism in an increasingly complex technological context. Technomaterialism, anti-naturalism, and gender abolitionism form the foundation of Hester’s study which argues for the facilitation of alternative models of reproduction.

 

Broken Stars + Invisible Planets

By Ken Liu

These two collections of Chinese speculative fiction showcase some of the most exciting science fiction writers working in China today. Ranging from short stories to novellas to essays, the writing featured in these collections defies the constraints of traditional science fiction sub-genres, engaging with deeper ties to Chinese culture.

 

Half Earth

By E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson argues in Half Earth that the environmental crisis is too large to be solved at an individual level and suggests that we seek a solution on an appropriate scale. Half Earth proposes a radical answer to impending environmental disaster: turn half of the Earth into a human-free nature reserve.

 

Star Maker

By Olaf Stapledon

This science fiction classic by British writer Olaf Stapledon describes a possible world in which progressive unity between civilizations and planets is achieved by the gradual merging of minds. Asking probing questions about extraterrestrial civilization, collectivization, and the relationship between creation and creator, Stapledon’s novel remains prescient over 80 years after its first publication.

 

Space Settlements

By Fred Scharmen

In 1975, NASA employed a team of scientists, architects, urban planners, and artists to design speculative space habitats for millions of people. In Space Settlements, Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill examines these speculative plans for life in space as viable architectural and spatial proposals.

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