- If the COLONIZATION OF OTHER WORLDS is not to be restricted to those that prove almost-exact duplicates of the Earth, some form of adaptation will be necessary; the colonists might adapt themselves by GENETIC ENGINEERING, as in James BLISH's PANTROPY series, or cyborgization (CYBORGS), as in Frederik POHL's MAN PLUS (1976), but if they are bolder they might insteadadapt the worlds, by terraforming them. The term was coined by Jack WILLIAMSON in the series of stories revised as Seetee Ship (1942-3; fixup1951; early editions as by Will Stewart), where it is used in a minor subplot, but such a project had earlier been envisaged in Olaf STAPLEDON's LAST AND FIRST MEN (1930), where VENUS is prepared for human habitation byelectrolysing water from its oceans to produce oxygen. Stapledon's project was primitive (and unworkable); most sf stories envisage plant life being used to generate a breathable atmosphere on terraformable planets, just as it once did on Earth.As it gradually became accepted that the other planets in the Solar System could not sustain human life, terraforming projects became commonplace in sf, especially in relation to MARS. Stories like Arthur C. CLARKE's The Sands of Mars (1951) and Patrick MOORE's series begun with Mission to Mars (1956) envisage relatively small-scale modifications, but, as the true magnitude of the problem has become apparent, writers have been forced to imagine much more complex processes. Ian MCDONALD's Desolation Road (1988) tends to the frankly miraculous, butcompensates with some memorable imagery; its echoes of Ray BRADBURY seem slightly more appropriate than the echoes of Edgar Rice BURROUGHS in The Barsoom Project (1989) by Larry NIVEN and Steven BARNES. In the realworld, however, people have been hatching long-term plans ever since the idea of terraforming was first treated seriously by such nonfiction popularizations as Carl SAGAN's The Cosmic Connection (1973) and Adrian BERRY's The Next Ten Thousand Years (1974). Kim Stanley ROBINSON has begunto elaborate a trilogy of novels around his novella Green Mars (1985; 1988 dos), which will endeavour to describe a realistic series of procedures; RED MARS (1992 UK) begins the series, which is projected to continue withGreen Mars (no textual connection with the novella) and Blue Mars.Other writers have followed Stapledon in imagining the terraforming of Venus, among them Poul ANDERSON in "The Big Rain" (1954) and "Sister Planet" (1956). This project has recently become the subject of an ambitious andextensive series by Pamela SARGENT, begun in VENUS OF DREAMS (1986) and continued in Venus of Shadows (1988).The only other worlds in the Solar System which seem to be plausible candidates for terraforming are some ofthe satellites of JUPITER and Saturn (OUTER PLANETS). Ganymede is the favourite, featuring in Robert A. HEINLEIN's Farmer in the Sky (1950), Poul Anderson's The Snows of Ganymede (1955; 1958 dos) and GregoryBENFORD's Jupiter Project (1975). Jack VANCE's "I'll Build Your Dream Castle" (1947), about custom-terraformed ASTEROIDS, is decidedly tongue-in-cheek.The idea that the terraforming of worlds might be reduced to a matter of routine as mankind builds a GALACTIC EMPIRE is occasionally featured in sf novels, although generally as a throwaway idea. Elaborate descriptions of terraforming in such a context are rare, but David GERROLD's Moonstar Odyssey (1977) and Andrew WEINER's Station Gehenna(1987) both involve terraforming projects whose methods are more-or-less scrupulously sketched out. Some of Roger ZELAZNY's works assume that terraforming projects can be so routinized that "worldscaping" might become a kind of art form; his Isle of the Dead (1969) features a protagonist who is in this godlike line of work. The same notion surfaces in Douglas ADAMS's Hitch Hiker series and in the film Time Bandits (1981) dir Terry Gilliam, and technologically powerful worldmakers with a mischievous bent hover (unfathomably) in the background of Terry PRATCHETT's STRATA (1981). It is probable, though, that it is therealistic treatments of Sargent and Robinson which will set the pattern for the most significant future uses of the theme in sf.MJE/BS
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.