This review was first published by Booklist on July 31, 2020.
Star Settlers is a cultural history of the human quest to conquer space. People have dreamed of travelling through the heavens for centuries, and the scientific advancements of the twentieth century have brought the possibility close to reality. Nadis seeks to understand the reasons why people want to expand out into space: as evolutionary imperative, as necessary for the survival of our species, and as spiritual quest. He traces the development of these ideas, from their earliest expressions in the seventeenth century to the present, and profiles many of the individuals and organizations who have pursued them. Some focus on colonizing Mars or the Moon, some want to build space stations, and some see humans filling entire star systems. Terraforming, ecosystem design, robots, AI, and transhumanism all have potential roles to play. The dream of space has been nurtured in science fiction, philosophy, spiritualism, and among the engineers and scientists of the Space Age. Ultimately, it’s not just a question of how we do it; it’s a question of whether we should.
But I also know you can’t fix structural inequity and intolerance by addressing individuals. If your strategy to overcome prejudice is to change the minds of prejudiced people, then you’re going to fail.
These convictions contradict each other. But I’m certain both are correct and necessary.
In his speech for the Book Award Celebration at the 2020 ALA Virtual Conference, Jerry Craft said:
“We can’t change the way the world sees us if we don’t first change the way we see ourselves.”
This perfectly encapsulates my division over this issue.
Black lives are not a problem to be solved or an academic text that can be studied. To recognize Black lives as ones to celebrate, empathize with and care about, here’s your antiracism work: read more fiction by and about Black people.
It brings to mind a story that has become core to who I am and how I see the world: