Red Mars Book Cover

The Politics and Privilege of Colonization: Shikata ga nai

Space exploration has always been driven by both the imagination of the individual and the political will of nations. When the United States decided to go to the Moon it was an inherently political endeavor, part of the Cold War arms race; however, the majesty of the journey itself inspired the imaginations of millions of people to dream of traveling far beyond the Moon.

Red Planets Cover

From Robots to Star Trek: Politics in Science Fiction

Have you ever thought about robots? I mean really thought about them. They are so prevalent in science fiction that it is easy to take the existence of robots for granted. But someone had to invent robots at some point, and for some reason. The answer can be found partially in the etymology of the word: the English robot comes from the Czech robota, meaning forced or compulsory labor. The term “robot” in its original use would be unfamiliar to modern audiences; it was first used by Karel Čapek in his work R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), a science fiction play from 1920.

David Quammen, Spillover

David Quammen at ASU: Spillover, Pandemics and Scientific Storytelling

David Quammen’s Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (W.W. Norton, 2012) is an eloquent book, weaving a compelling, scientifically-grounded narrative about the potential for emergent global pandemics. I have come to expect nothing less from Quammen, who throughout his illustrious career has elevated scientific journalism to a true art form. As a scientist […]