PROJECT UPDATE: PANTROPY

Another productive week this week. I presented two sheets on the concept of Pantropy. The idea was first developed by science fiction author James Blish (1921-1975) in a series of short stories published between 1952 and 1956; these stories were later collected in one volume called The Seedling Stars (1957).

Pantropy is an approach to space exploration and colonisation that differs significantly from the methods proposed by contemporary science-fiction authors. Blish put it best when he said: “You can change the planet to accommodate the colonists, or the colonists to accommodate the planet”. The 2001 paperback edition of The Seedling Stars also included the following paragraph on the inside of the jacket:

“You didn’t make an Adapted Man with just a wave of the wand. It involved an elaborate constellation of techniques, known collectively as pantropy, that changed the human pattern in a man’s shape and chemistry before he was born. And the pantropists didn’t stop there. Education, thoughts, ancestors and the world itself were changed, because the Adapted Men were produced to live and thrive in the alien environments found only in space. They were crucial to a daring plan to colonize the universe”.

The drawings below are my assessment of the barely habitable – or extreme – zones found in the Solar System; and a preliminary chart showing the potential ‘family tree’ for future adapted men – or women! While Blish restricted himself to purely biological methods – what we now think of as genetic engineering – the concept works equally well for an entirely mechanical or combined bio-mechanical approach.

Pantropy 'zones' within our Solar System
Pantropy ‘zones’ within our Solar System
The three strands of human augmentation: Biological; Bio-mechanical; or Mechanical
The three strands of human augmentation: Biological; Bio-mechanical; or Mechanical

The plan this week, while continuing to develop new skills, is to pick a location and develop one form of adapted man.

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