Computer rendering of the Curiosity Rover. Photograph: NASA/JPL-Caltech/PA
Second, whose destiny is it anyway? Who gets to go? D N Lee wrote a fascinating deconstruction of this in Scientific American where she makes a number of interesting points. Not least, how little attention this question has been given in the rather white and male race to conquer Mars.
The first objection she raises is to the idea that we’re “stuck” on Earth. “Stuck?! Why would we be stuck on Earth? Stuck implies left behind in a bad situation.” This is one bit I disagree with. As long as we’re on one planet, however good it is, we’re a single freak event away from joining the dinosaurs. Self-sufficient colonies elsewhere make for a good insurance policy. Her next point is critical though:
“I’m nagged by frames or narratives that are presented as universally attractive and necessary and heroic where the protagonists seem to mostly reflect Hollywood action movie casts and plots. *eye rolls*
“I began to question, first in my mind then out loud – whose version of humanity is being targeted for saving?”
To paraphrase Douglas Adams: “Space is white. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly white it is.” It’s also very male and European. Women in space-colony fiction have generally been presented as sexy walking vaginas, whose main purpose is to provide the male astronauts with a place to dock their penis at night. This being necessary in order to “ensure the survival of the species”.
If you think that attitude doesn’t exist in the real world, it’s worth recalling the comments of Prof Anatoly Grigoryev, a doctor and key figure in the Russian space programme. “Women are fragile and delicate creatures; that is why men should lead the way to distant planets and carry women there in their strong hands.”What if women on Mars turn evil?! Photograph: Everett Collection/REX/Everett Collection/REX
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