A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?
Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith. Penguin Press, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-1-984881-72-4
“There is no urgent need to settle space” and “most of the pro-settlement arguments are wrong,” argue Kelly Weinersmith, a behavioral ecology professor at Rice University, and her cartoonist husband Zach in the wickedly irreverent follow-up to their 2017 collaboration, Soonish. They contend it will likely take centuries to overcome the logistical challenges—including the development of long-term waste management systems and laws to settle conflicts over sovereignty—posed by establishing a colony on Mars, the moon, or a free-floating space station. The Weinersmiths explore other critical issues, such as how to have sex in reduced gravity (“The physics will be a little tricky because every action has an equal and opposite reaction”) and generate energy (harnessing solar power on Mars would be complicated by the fact that “the day is about half as bright” as on Earth). They also gleefully tear down frequently cited reasons for settling space, suggesting that “leaving a 2°C warmer Earth for Mars,” which has an average surface temperature of -60°C, “would be like leaving a messy room so you can live in a toxic waste dump.” The cheeky tone is loads of fun, and Zach’s humorous illustrations of, for instance, contraptions proposed to facilitate zero-gravity sex, entertain. It adds up to a boisterous takedown of techno-utopianism. Illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/23/2023
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-241-45493-0