‘Where my guides lead me in kindness, I follow, follow lightly…’ (Le Guin, 2000, p. 176)
Terra Two’s key aim is to help shape the first off-world human settlement through the lens of science fiction. American space agency NASA is keen to send humans to Mars in the 2030s; China and Russia both have plans to send crewed missions before 2050; and Elon Musk’s private company SpaceX intends to establish a permanent Mars base by the end of the current decade. It is my own feeling that we simply cannot leave the development of the first colony to the scientists alone; instead, we in the Arts and Humanities, especially those who are acutely aware of the warnings implicit in science fiction, must add our voices to this larger project in order to ensure that when we settle a new planet, we take an entirely new approach to our environment, to other species within our sphere of influence, and to one another. To simply transport contemporary attitudes and behaviours into deep space would be to create a mission doomed from its inception; when we go, we need to agree on a new set of principles, and we need to find a way to make them stick.
Contemporary science fiction, with its increasing focus on the environment as well as on cultural, ethnic and sexual diversity serves as a repository for the hopes and fears of our age, an age we might aptly entitle The Age of Disaster. For eco-philosopher Timothy Morton ‘the end of the world has already occurred’ (2013, p.7); James Watt’s blueprints for the steam engine marked the beginning of the industrial revolution, and so too, the beginning of geophysical disaster on a global scale—the beginning of the end of days. Many scientists suggest that the ‘tipping point’, that window in time where we might have been able to reverse the adverse effects of technological advancement, has now passed. Whether this is the case or not, as I see it we have two choices—keep on partying, western-style, while species across the globe face hunger and starvation, OR make a plan for a radical new way of living, one we can use to transform contemporary reality here and now on Terra One, and one we can take with us when we move to our first new home among the stars.
Science fiction readers and critics, we invite you to distil the wisdom found in your favourite texts for this moveable ark. Creative writers, visual artists, gamers and musicians, we invite you to reflect on science fictional texts or themes in order to help us visualise a future played out light years away from Terra One, our beautiful planet Earth. Historians, law-makers, politicians—we invite you to think about how governance will work in the first off-world community; what do our wisest sf writers and film-makers suggest we will need to do in the future to keep the peace? Spiritual and religious thinkers, philosophers, ethicists—please comment on the way we might harness our best, most compassionate selves within the new space. Scientists—how will we get there? What will we need to do to survive in a new environment? Whatever we do—it is certain that we will need a diverse range of abilities in order to get us through—diversity, and resilience.
Good quality contributions to Terra Two are welcomed from YSJ academic staff, postgraduate students, undergraduate students (see Undergraduate Launch Pad), and from guest contributors by invitation. The Terra Two editorial team will send out calls for contributions twice a year, and in addition, we will facilitate projects and collaborations to provide additional opportunities for submission.
New in 2019 – Science Fiction for Survival: An Archive for Mars! The editors of Terra Two received funding to produce a printed anthology which collects T2 work around environmental, social, and spiritual sustainability. Published by Valley Press, the collection includes six additional short works of fiction which have never appeared on the website. Science Fiction for Survival: An Archive for Mars was launched on the 16th of March at York Literature Festival in 2019. Contributors donated all royalties from book sales at the event to the Rwandan charity that champions girls’ education, We Are Limitless: http://wearelimitless.org/ Copies are available in the York St John library, or can be purchased online.
In the future, and when the opportunity arises, we aim to share our Ark for Off-World Survival with NASA , the UK Space Agency, and the European Space Agency. We hope it offers entertainment and insight to those far from home.
This site is dedicated to science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018), whose deep understanding of human beings, and her faith in what we can achieve collectively, has influenced me profoundly all my adult years. Pick any one of her novels, anthologies of short stories, essays or poems off the library shelf, and fly with her to transformative inner worlds…
Liesl E. King 14/3/17 (updated autumn 2022)
Caretaker – Terra Two: An Ark for Off-World Survival