Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures

Why should we go to space? To learn more about the universe and our place in it? To extract resources and conduct commerce? To demonstrate national primacy and technological prowess? To live and thrive in radically different kinds of human communities? Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities takes on the challenge of imagining new stories at the intersection of public and private—narratives that use the economic and social history of exploration, as well as current technical and scientific research, to inform scenarios for the future of the “new space” era.

Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities provides fresh insights into human activity in Low Earth Orbit, journeys to Mars, capturing and mining asteroids, and exploring strange and uncharted exoplanets. Its stories and essays imagine human expansion into space as a kind of domestication—not in the sense of taming nature but in the sense of creating a space for dwelling, a venue for human life and curiosity to unfurl in all their weirdness and complexity.

The collection is free to download in EPUB and MOBI e-book formats, as a PDF, and through Apple’s iBooks Store. You can also purchase a print-on-demand copy at cost for $20.09 (plus sales tax and shipping) from Blurb. The price covers printing costs only.

Having trouble downloading the book? Drop us an email at imagination AT and we’ll help. Profanity-Free Versions: A version of the book with all of the profanity in the narratives bleeped is available for kids, parents, educators, and anyone else who would prefer a profanity-free reading experience. Download the profanity-free version in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF

Stories by: Madeline Ashby, Steven Barnes, Eileen Gunn, Ramez Naam, Carter Scholz, Karl Schroeder, Vandana Singh

Essays by: Jim Bell, Lawrence Dritsas, Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Emma Frow, Roland Lehoucq, Andrew D. Maynard, Clark A. Miller, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Steve Ruff, William K. Storey, Sara Imari Walker, G. Pascal Zachary

Interview with: Kim Stanley Robinson

Edited by: Ed Finn and Joey Eschrich, with guest editor Juliet Ulman

Team Coordinator: Alissa Haddaji

Assessment Coordinator: Mateo Pimentel

This project was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under grant number NNX15AI31G. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.



All illustrations by Maciej Rebisz. Click to view full-size images.

Low Earth Orbit

Illustration for Carter Scholz's story "Vanguard 2.0." A spacecraft with a mechanical arm protruding from it, capturing a the tiny Vanguard orbiter.

Illustration for Steven Barnes's story "Mozart on the Kalahari," showing a spacecraft docking at the circular Disney Orbital Platform.


Illustration for Karl Schroeder's story ""The Baker of Mars," showing an augmented-reality overlay on the Martian surface.

Illustration for Madeline Ashby's story "Death on Mars," showing a giant drill on the Martian surface.


Illustration for Ramez Naam's story "The Use of Things," showing an astronaut grappling on the surface of an asteroid, along with several small mining robots.

Illustration for Eileen Gunn's story "Night Shift," showing an asteroid in full view, being mined by billions of nanobots.


Illustration for Vandana Singh's story "Shikasta," showing an orbiter circling a planet, mostly in shadow, with its sun in the background.