Terraforming the Inner Planets

There’s a great discussion going on now on Goodreads in the “Apocalypse Whenever” group about whether or not you would go help terraform Mars, say, or Venus. Most of the conversation revolves around family, of course. No one would want to go if it meant leaving loved ones behind.

But if we make the leap from the immigration patterns of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries to the not-really-so-distant future, of course families will travel together. The trip just needs to be made more comfortable — more “earth-like” — when traversing such distances. Oh, it will be challenging at first, of course. Just like the leaky sailboats and ox-drawn conestoga wagons that drew people from the old Old World to the old New World. But after a few generations, it will be made more comfortable. Maybe even as comfortable as a flight across country.

Of course, only the well-off will be able to travel that way. Others will have to take steerage. But I fully expect the “steerage” of the 23rd Century to involve fairly comfortable quarters on board a ring city spinning just enough to throw the passengers down against the outer ring wall — or “floor” — with centripetal force. It’s an old design, really, and quite simple. Russian, 1930s. But it is a much more likely and accessible technology than any sort of imaginary “gravity plates” might be. Add a really good ion engine, like the Chang-Diaz, and in a hundred years, you’d be able to spin from Earth to Mars every 2 years or so, on the Great Perigean Arc, along with other rings and private yachts taking the same wave. There’s safety in numbers, after all.

I am a proponent of terraforming, even if it means re-making Mars and Venus in our own Earthly image. I know, I know, humans haven’t been such very good stewards of the Earth, so why should we encourage them? Frankly, I don’t think we can stop it. Given population pressures and the inevitable coming climate change, terraforming is likely to happen, sooner or later. It just depends on if we can keep our act together long enough to tackle this mission, before we descend into barbaric water wars.

If we can survive and continue our technological pace for just another one or two hundred years, we might be able to pull this thing off. And another world or two is just what we need. Even if we can only maintain habitability for a few million years, even humans may not be able to destroy all 3 worlds in that time. And it just might give us enough time to shoot for the stars.

Book 4 of my Water Worlds series, “Gen,” concerns this very topic. My goal was to portray life on Mars a few hundred years hence in a believable and accessible way, and I think I’ve got it. Along with a terrific sci-fi adventure on top of it. Look for “Gen” some time this spring.

And thanks for reading!

H.S.

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About HSStOurs

H. S. St. Ours is the author of the Water Worlds young adult science fiction, apocapunk adventure series. He lives and writes in Maryland. "Water Worlds is a saga of the terraforming of the planets of the inner solar system, as seen through the eyes of generations of young women. I wrote this series especially for young women, because I believe there is a paucity of good SF for them in particular."
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