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Space Forces

A Critical History of Life in Outer Space

Fred Scharmen

$34.99

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Verso
01 April 2022
Many societies have imagined going to live in space. What they want to do once they get up there - whether conquering the unknown, establishing space 'colonies,' privatising the moon's resources - reveals more than expected. In this fascinating radical history of space exploration, Fred Scharmen shows that often science and fiction have combined in the imagined dreams of life in outer space, but these visions have real implications for life back on earth.

For the Russian Cosmists of the 1890s space was a place to pursue human perfection away from the Earth. For others, such as Wernher Von Braun, it was an engineering task that combined, in the Space Race, the Cold War, and during World War II, with destructive geopolitics. Arthur C Clark in his speculative books offered an alternative vision of wonder that is indifferent to human interaction. Meanwhile NASA planned and managed the space station like an earthbound corporation. Today, the market has arrived into outer space and exploration is the plaything of superrich technology billionaires, who plan to privatise the mineral wealth for themselves. Are other worlds really possible?

Bringing these figures and ideas together reveals a completely different story of our relationship with outer space, as well as the dangers of our current direction of extractive capitalism and colonisation.
By:  
Imprint:   Verso
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   363g
ISBN:   9781786637352
ISBN 10:   1786637359
Pages:   272
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University's School of Architecture and Planning. He is the Co-Founder of the Working Group on Adaptive Systems, an art and design consultancy based in Baltimore, Maryland. His first book, Space Settlements was published in 2019. His writing has been published in The Journal of Architectural Education, Atlantic CityLab, Slate, Log, CLOG, Volume, and Domus. His architectural criticism has appeared in the Architect's Newspaper, and in the local alt-weekly Baltimore City Paper.

Reviews for Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space

Intricately dissects seven foundational visions of humanity's future in space, from some of the most well-known and prolific engineers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and science fiction writers in history. Scharmen's keen eye for structures and systems lets him tease out the com-mon threads of conquest, domination, hope, and fear that drive us towards the stars. -Erika Nesvold, co-founder of JustSpace Alliance An episodic history of space exploration through the eyes of an architect focusing, not in the concept of conquer and dominion, but in the flawed yet captivating desire to reinvent life anew. Fred Scharmen brilliantly navigates through stories of inventing worlds, multidimension-al and a-hierarchical, lingering between reality and fiction. -Lydia Kallipoliti, Author of The Architecture of Closed Worlds As if from a vantage point somewhere in the endangered atmosphere, Space Forces reflects back a sense of what humans are so far by telling stories about their dreams of space travel. Mixed with their eccentric curiosities is their desire to make colonized property out of everything, their racist depravity, their clanking apparatus of national sovereignty, their extractivist hoarding, and their feverish dreams of capital accumulation. These are the little heroes of this little planet busy pursuing their rational plans to dominate it and those who might repair it. -Keller Easterling, author of Medium Design


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