To see the full course syllabus, go to the "Syllabus" page.
“Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” — Paulo Freire
Humans have been fascinated with our red neighbor, Mars, for centuries. It is not surprising, then, that as soon as science fiction developed as a genre, Mars and Martians became one of its first subjects. Since H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (1897), hundreds of novels and stories have been written about the planet, its inhabitants, their contact with humans, and human colonization of the planet.
While not as fanciful and action-packed, actual exploration of Mars has been ongoing over the past few decades as unmanned robotic missions to Mars took pictures, recorded various measurements, and extracted geological samples. Finally, in the past couple of years, both NASA and SpaceX have made announcements about their plans for human exploration and settlement of Mars by early 2030s.
To start thinking about these prospects, we will read one of the best science fiction novels dealing with human colonization of the planet: Red Mars (1993) by Kim Stanley Robinson. Through class discussions and written assignments, we will explore the various issues brought up in the book, and consider what colonization of Mars might mean for humanity.
Please note: In order to simplify referencing passages in class, please only buy the mass market paperback edition of the book published by Bantam Books/Spectra (ISBN 978-0553560732). The book is readily available from online book retailers as well as from the used book stores in the area. Unless you have a Kindle reader (not laptop or phone), please do not buy an ebook; only the Kindle ebook bought directly from Amazon has matching page numbers.