Hard science fiction is a genre of science fiction in which the fictional settings, events, and technology conform to scientific and technological laws and facts. This mixture of science and fiction creates a rich site for the development of new speculative ideas and theories in the twentieth century. One example is the idea of terraforming, wherein a planet's environment is re-engineered to support human life. Early ideas about terraforming emerged from 1930s-1960s hard science fiction. By the early twenty-first century, the idea of terraforming had been the subject of over two-hundred scientific journal articles and six different conferences sponsored by NASA and other agencies. This dissertation examines the history of the idea of terraforming; describes its cultural history; and relates that history to twentieth century American scientific, technological, and cultural developments. It argues that terraforming hard science fiction and terraforming science overlap in ways that challenge perceived boundaries of science and fiction. In doing so, this dissertation illustrates how hard science fiction can be factored into the history of science and technology as a vernacular space outside the perceived dichotomy of science and non-science.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2010. Major: History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Advisor: Robert Seidel. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 227 pages.
Schmidt, Peter Allon Jr..
Terraforming: an investigation of the boundaries between science and hard science fiction..
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