Astrotopia: The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race


Product Details

$24.00  $22.32
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
6.35 X 9.26 X 0.79 inches | 1.03 pounds

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About the Author

Mary-Jane Rubenstein is professor of religion and science in society at Wesleyan University. She is coauthor of Image: Three Inquiries in Imagination and Technology, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and the author of Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters; Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse; and Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe.


"The NewSpace era is marked by growing excitement and worry. The most significant issue moving forward is how to prevent destructive practices from crystallizing as the space endeavor grows. The first thing to do is to dispel the myth from the reality, and this book is one attempt to do that. For this field to advance, we need more critical perspectives that are forward-looking and suggest a pathway toward alternative hopeful and inclusive space futures."--Timiebi Aganaba, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, College of Global Futures, Arizona State University
"This book is a must-read for anyone who believes that the space race is a romantic enterprise defining humanity's destiny. Alas, as Rubenstein argues with wit and urgency, the space race is a reinvention of the worst colonialism has to offer, a mythologized narrative of exploitation and hubris poised to turn outer space into 'another theater of greed and war.'"--Marcelo Gleiser, Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy, Dartmouth College, 2019 Templeton Prize Laureate
"Astrotopia is an adventurous ride into outer space. Rubenstein masterfully places our desire to travel the cosmic seas within a historical and religious context, which is illuminating. Sublimely entertaining, Rubenstein brings levity to such a complex subject matter. To understand the future of the space industry, Astrotopia is a must-read."--Ingrid LaFleur, founder and director, The Afrofuture Strategies Institute
"Rubenstein lends fresh energy to a familiar debate about the value of space programs, dreams of mining the solar system, and colonizing the moon and Mars."-- "Kirkus Reviews"
"Astrotopia is superb and will fascinate anyone curious about the current space fervor."-- "Booklist"
"A singular perspective on space technology, with unexpected comparisons to colonialism that will make readers think twice about the future of humanity on other planets."-- "Library Journal"
"A timely book that makes an important and well-argued point: that the new space race, indeed much like the old one, is driven largely by a combination of an instinct for capitalist exploitation and colonization coupled to a quasi-religious impulse drawing on some of the worst of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Astrotopia ought to stimulate some much-needed debate."--Philip Ball, author of "The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination"
"One of the most philosophically sophisticated, mythically impactful, contemporarily relevant, and wickedly funny books I have read in a very long time. 'Influential' is a grotesque understatement. 'Game-changing' is more like it."--Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of "The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge"
"Astrotopia is a timely and lively read that helps us see the old myths behind NewSpace. Rubenstein exposes the religious and imperialistic roots of our outer-space plans, challenging us to rethink our motivations and justifications for our dreams of leaving Earth. Anyone who has ever asked why we are so intent on going to Mars and elsewhere, and especially those of us who consider ourselves space enthusiasts, should read this and ask whether we're really satisfied with the futures being drawn up for us by astro-oligarchs or whether there may be other, and better, options."--David Grinspoon, coauthor of "Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto"
"A gung-ho approach to speed would violate the considerations of space ecology promoted by Rubenstein in Astrotopia: The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race. Rubenstein, while expertly dismantling some overblown claims of companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, proposes a gentler mode of space exploration that refuses to rehearse the violent history of colonialism on earth. In a way her vision recalls Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock's Prime Directive: to avoid interference with other life forms. The original Star Trek series began in 1966, only months after the death of Sergei Korolev. Perhaps it still has something to teach us."--Steven Poole "Wall Street Journal"
"Rubenstein succeeds in highlighting both the debate over whether future space exploration and exploitation should be led by government or entrepreneurial entities and the manner in which neoliberal, private-sector emphases have come to dominate the thinking of a particular segment of the pro-space community. Her criticisms of this phenomenon--part of a growing body of literature in environmental studies, Afrofuturism, and anticolonialism investigations--are on point."--Roger D. Launius "Science"